You find out three weeks after being discharged from the hospital that a sponge was left in your abdomen during surgery. As of October 2008, the Untied States government through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, took a position that it should not have to pay for medical errors. it should not have to pay for the surgery you need to remove that sponge. And neither should you. Private insurers, like Aetna and Cigna, followed suit.
Medical errors carry high costs – the cost of treating the consequences of the errors, the human cost in terms of lost lives or lost function, and the effect on the reputation of the provider or facility, if the error becomes known to the public.
I have read hundreds of deposition transcripts of patients and their loved ones who filed suit after a medical error. The deposition invariably ends with a listing of changes in the patient’s life. Depending on the injuries or damages, I read statements like, “I can no longer go to work. I cannot help with household activities. I don’t sleep well. I feel useless.”
Prevention is always better than cure, in both preventing illness and in preventing errors.