medical care

  1. The problem that's seven times worse than reported

    To err is human... but to make a potentially deadly mistake and consider it just another normal day on the job, you'd have to work in a hospital.

    The newest numbers on medical mistakes are in, and they're uglier than ever: The Department of Heath and Human Services says six out of seven errors -- including potentially fatal blunders -- go unreported.

    Now, no one likes to admit to their mistakes... and in the past, doctors and nurses were no exception. They'd often fail to report their mistakes simply to cover their own butts.

    But DHS investigators say today's doctors, nurses and other hospital staffers are a different breed: They'll admit to those mistakes... if they could only figure out what constitutes a mistake!

    Believe or not, many don't realize when a patient has been hurt by botched medical care. And others make or encounter mistakes so often that they don't consider them mistakes anymore.

    It's just another day at the office.

    But recognizing those mistakes is supposed to be a key part of the Medicare process -- with hospitals that hope to cash Medicare checks required to report all patients who are harmed by their care.

    That includes patients hurt or killed by hospital-acquired infections, drug overdoses, wrong medications, bedsores, delirium from too many painkillers and more.

    To find out that doctors and nurses can fail to spot that six times out of seven is just astounding -- and that's not even the biggest problem here. The agency's inspectors also found that even when a mistake is recognized, it almost never leads to changes to prevent it from happening again.

    In the new study, independent doctors reviewed a small sample of patient records and found 293 who were harmed by their medical care -- with only 40 of those incidents reported to hospital management.

    Of those, only 28 -- less than 10 percent of the original total -- were investigated, and just five led to actual changes in either policy or practice.

    But that's just scratching the surface. All told, investigators say 130,000 Medicare patients are harmed by their care every single month -- some of them more than once.

    One recent study even found that 15,000 Medicare patients are killed by those medical mistakes every month.

    The sad reality is that if you're sick or injured, the hospital is turning into the last place you want to be.

  2. The patient made me do it!

    CT scans, X-rays, MRIs, ultrasounds -- you name it, people are getting them far more often than necessary, leading to extra stress and excess treatments.

    And in the case of those CT scans and X-rays, patients are being dosed with high levels of radiation for no reason at all.

    Well, docs now say they've noticed all this too -- and they've come up with a novel justification for it: The patients are making them do it!

    It's as if a patient might walk in with a gun and say, "doc, I have a headache -- give me a brain scan and give it to me right now… OR ELSE."

    Obviously, that's not happening… but a new survey finds that many doctors are basically afraid of their own patients -- and that's why they're ordering up all those tests.

    Researchers say their survey of 627 family physicians and internists finds that 42 percent believe their patients are getting too much medical care -- but say they have to go along with it… because 80 percent believe they'll be sued if they don't test the hell out of their patients.

    They have a point, to a certain extent. Many patients do walk in demanding meds, tests or both.

    But whatever happened to "just say no?"

    I think I know what happened to it, and it has nothing to do with lawsuits: "No" vanished when docs realized they could buy their own testing equipment and double-dip on their patients, collecting fees and co-pays for the office visit as well as the extra bucks for all those unnecessary tests.

    Some of them even admit it -- three percent of the doctors who took the survey said money influenced their decisions to order up all those extra tests.

    I'm sure the real number is much higher, and many of the docs in the survey even admitted that as well… sort of: Thirty-nine percent say OTHER doctors would cut back on those tests and scans if they didn't stand to gain extra money from them.

    In other words, "I'm honest -- but those other guys are crooks."

    No wonder the healthcare system is a wreck.

2 Item(s)