Most people imagine that the more they pay for healthcare, they better the service they will receive.

However, that’s not how it works in practice.

Healthcare is not like any other ‘consumer’ service. You don’t 'get' what you pay for. You are given what your Government health department or private insurance company decides you will receive.

You have no idea how much your treatments really cost.

And nothing about the quality of the services you will receive.


A 4 Corners Program in August 2014 revealed that an Australian surgeon with known drug addiction was allowed to operate, despite posing a severe risk to his patients.

He was finally banned from a public hospital, only to continue practising in a nearby private hospital.

The only reason this doctor was finally stopped from performing neurosurgery on his unsuspecting patients, was his arrest for involvement in the death of two prostitutes who died while on a cocaine binge with him.


The hero in this sordid story was a member of the drug squad, who arrested the Doctor at his place of work, finally forcing the hospital to ban him completely.

This will come as no surprise to those who are familiar with Australia’s resistance towards transparency.

In 2011 a drug addicted anaesthetist who had infected 55 women with hepatitis C after injecting himself with their pethidine was finally convicted. He had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse. Once again the Australian Health Bureaucracy knew all about his dangerous behaviour, but failed to protect the public.

Were any of his patients given a warnings about his addiction problems?

No.


I have spoke to a nurse who had worked with this particular doctor over a decade before he was charged. She reported him to the theatre management and was told ‘forget it’.

In America the United Kingdom and Europe, hospital errors receive some public media attention.

In Australia, the emphasis is on cover ups,  secrecy and 'face saving'.

This leaves patients in the dark. The only people who know the truth are well paid hospital and government bureaucracies.


A four year report into the error rates of different private hospitals is currently being kept from the public. This is despite private insurers trying to convince both sides of politics it is in the public interest to see this data.

When Dr Armitage, the former CEO of Private Healthcare Australia took his well researched report into private hospitals to parliament, saying it should be released in the public interest, neither side of politics was prepared to support him.

Medicare also keeps a store of data about error prone public hospitals and the investigations into substandard or fraudulent health professionals.

None of this information is made public.

Meanwhile health care has grown into the largest employer in Australia.

Does this secrecy worry politicians who collect lifetime annuities and excessive superannuation packages?

Apparently not.


Hospital errors are not an aberrant occurrence, a one in a million problem or just bad luck.

They are a silent epidemic.

And they will continue until there is transparency about hospital errors and what is being done to stop them.

References

Cocaine-addict surgeon linked to sex worker's deaths, continued to operate on patients

Drug addict anaesthetist James Peters faces civil case from patients he infected with Hepatitis C at Melbourne Clinic

© Wikihospitals 2014