"Patient 1 - Aug 2006: A suspected retinal detachment in Whangarei is referred to specialists at Auckland DHB.
Ten days later: No word from Auckland; patient asks Whangarei doctor to follow up. Auckland confirm they have the referral.
Feb 2007: Still no action from Auckland. Patient again asks doctor what is happening. By then the condition has worsened too much for the treatment.
Nov 2007: Patient's left eye is removed."It can be explained, at one level, by the following.
- Capture by providers, who get funded according to what bureaucracies recommend, and certainly not based on what consumers want;
- ACC protecting providers from being sued.
ACC, you see, is an absolute travesty. It provides a one-size fits all socialised insurance scheme, where you get what the scheme dictates - because you couldn't have chosen another provider. The insurer doesn't claim it from the incompetent or the incompetent's insurer (which is ACC too), doesn't hike up the premiums from the incompetent. The incompetent says sorry, and the victim loses an eye.
Yes, fantastic system, so low cost - except for the victim of medical malpractice.
Yes, in the USA it would take months for a lawsuit to proceed, maybe years with appeals. However, the incompetent ones would seek to settle, to avoid those costs, and the mere fact of having to face up to these costs directly changes behaviour.
It needs to be opened up to competition, at all levels, so that people can choose the cover they want, so insurers can charge premiums according to risk, so that the incompetent face their costs, and others do not.
In the meantime, it will be simply another "oh we're very sorry" to those who lose an eye, have cancer spread potentially fatally, and have another stroke.
At this election, ACC has barely a mention. National will consider re-opening the employers' account to competition, which wont touch this. ACT would open all of ACC up to competition, which would make a difference. Libertarianz would open all of ACC up to competition, privatise it and restore the right to sue.
So what do you think? Would competition in ACC be enough, or should health professionals face being sued for their incompetence? I don't mean the crazy subjectivist US tort cases where people sue for their OWN incompetence, but clearly establishing on the balance of probabilities that the other party has been unreasonably negligent.