Thursday, October 30, 2003

30% of health care dollars wasted -- we need to see the data

I went to the Campaign for Better Health Care's annual meeting today and I joined up as a member (you might consider that too -- OK, that's my plug for them).

The most interesting part was Michael Millenson, a Kellogg prof, health care consultant and former Tribune health care reporter, talking about medical errors and the waste that flows from them. According to Mr. Milleson, doctors get it right about 58% of the time. The other 40-some percent of the time, they are wrong.

And then people get hurt.

The bad part is that Illinois state law isn't very good about public disclosing error rates. Other states are way better than we are.

So if you want to know whether Northwestern or University of Chicago or Advocate of Cook County has the lowest error rate for some surgery you are about to get, you can't find that out.

The hospitals know. The Illinois Hospital Association apparently has that data. But the public does not.

So, we need a state law to make that data publicly available.

Anyone want to help get that passed? Email me at (my new email address).

And another interesting part is when another doctor said that when people are unhealthy because they smoke or are obese, that costs us all. We all have to pay for them when they get cancer or get diabetes or whatever because they made the choice to live in an unhealthy way. And he called on people to really consider whether they ought to be obese (even saying "I see a little obesity in this room.")

So, maybe we ought to generate some stigma towards unhealthy lifestyles (like the way there is now a stigma towards smokers), because that drives up health care costs, and damnit, I don't want to pay higher health insurance premiums because you want to get fat and you won't take a walk every now and again.

There's something to it. If you don't think so, email me and I'll put that on my regular site at Boy, I'm just plugging everything in this post.

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