To the editor:
I’m visiting Lawrence for the holiday and felt compelled to write a response to the article by Karrey Britt (Dec. 26) on the book written by a radiologist, I hope readers of his book will be cautious with what they believe. He espouses tort reform, but that must be weighed against compelling evidence published in major medical journals that between 14 percent and 21 percent of hospitalized patients are harmed by serious, preventable adverse events.
Our country’s problem of high infant mortality, low life expectancy and inordinate medical costs per person are not myths. Our infant mortality and life expectancy are ranked about 40th among nations of the world. Our medical costs per person are double that of most developed nations. We have a failed health care industry by almost any objective measure.
The solution is not less government regulation, as the radiologist supposes. All medical systems that deliver better, less-expensive medical care than the United States do so under thoughtful, relatively efficient government regulation.
Unfortunately, Medicare and Medicaid leaders have lacked the courage to refuse to pay doctors and hospitals for procedures that have no benefit for patients. For example, it was not until January 2009 that Medicare quit paying doctors when they operated on the wrong patient. Furthermore, we have no standardized electronic medical record system as most other developed countries have. If we had this, the radiologist’s complaint about too much paperwork would be solved. The real solution to our health care woes is to better engage patients in their care so that they can purchase safe health care as informed consumers.