The New York Times has an article on why bad hospitals stay in business (hat-tip TortsProf). The article suggests one reason is a lacking in Federal oversight:
Unlike some other nations, including France, the United States has no federal agency charged with hospital oversight. Instead, it relies on a patchwork of state health departments and a nonprofit group called the Joint Commission that sets basic quality standards for the nation. Hospitals are rarely closed or hit with significant financial penalties for hurting patients.
The article notes an important and tragic truth, almost ten years after a landmark Institute of Medicine report calling medical errors in our hospitals a pandemic, there have been little advances in erradicating medical errors. The medical profession is obsessed with limiting their liability without paying attention to a sad truth that medical errors kill more people than car accidents.
“We haven’t been forthright about the dirty little secret, the huge variation of quality and safety in the system,” said Arthur Aaron Levin, director of the Center for Medical Consumers, a nonprofit patient advocacy group. “It’s nine years later, and we can’t even tell you if it’s better,” Mr. Levin said. “How is that permissible?”
Our firm is inundated with calls from potential clients asking if they are a victim of medical malpractice. This is a problem that has been known for years and there has not been one concerted effort to solve it.