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Medical Malpractice From A Consumer’s Perspective

A recent article in the Detroit News describes General Motors’ costs due to medical errors and inefficiencies and GM’s effort to force reform in the Detroit area. The real attention-getter in the article comes from the introduction:

Sam Shalaby is a car guy. He used to run a Delphi components plant in Dayton, and his language is still sprinkled with manufacturing terms 10 years after becoming the muscle behind GM’s health care efforts. He speaks of colonoscopies in terms of price per unit and extols the virtues of “brand management” for medical centers.

For a company man accustomed to having products recalled for minor design flaws, the error-prone American health care system is baffling. On an average day, General Motors Corp. estimates that one person it insures dies because of medical errors, and 40 are sickened by prescription drug mistakes.

The automaker loses about $4 million a day because of medical errors and inefficiencies.

GM data reveal massive differences in quality and price of medical care across regions of the country, and even between hospitals in the same city. What’s worse, hospitals sometimes make more money when they make mistakes because they profit from longer recovery times.

“If we ran an auto plant like they run hospitals, we’d be out of business,” said Shalaby, director of community health initiatives. “The medical system is so obsolete, no one understands how to make it work.”

The article is enlightening. If GM is losing $4 million a day due to errors and inefficiencies, what is the cost to the entire economy?

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