When Health Care Kills

By:  James Warren

The U.S. Senate hearing on health care had an unsettling title: “More than 1,000 preventable deaths a day is too many: The need to improve patient safety.”

But Joanne Disch, a University of Minnesota expert, said it would be more accurate to call it, “More than 1,000 preventable deaths — and 10,000 preventable serious complications a day—is too many.”

“I would respectfully suggest that the title of this hearing understates the problem,” she testified.

It is a sad reflection on our overpriced, at times incompetent health care that much data is as unreliable as one fact is clear: huge numbers of people needlessly die in hospitals and after they’re discharged.

The “hot” show in Congress Thursday was an inquisition of stubborn General Motors executives over their ignition switch fiasco. But more relevant to most of us was an exploration of preventable deaths.

Read more