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| Wrona DuBois, P.L.L.C.

The Office of Inspector General recently reported that as many as 15,000 elderly Medicare patients die every month. Really? How can that be?

The numbers translate to 13 percent of all Medicare patients experiencing an "adverse event" when they receive care each month. These events, such as surgical errors, infections and the like do not always result in death, of course, but the numbers are alarming nonetheless. The report notes that of the adverse events that are identified, 44 percent were avoidable.

The unfortunate upshot of this is that the medical consumer, and the elderly medical consumer in particular, does not have reliable tools to help them determine if they are seeking medical care from competent providers. This highlights the conclusion of many that health care in this country ranks among the worst in the world rather than among the best.

According to World Health Organization rankings of the world’s health care systems, the United States comes in at 37. We are behind those that you may suspect like France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Japan, the UK, Germany and so on. But we are also well behind some countries that you may not have even have on the radar screen. Think San Marino (3rd), Andorra (4th) and many other countries that most people would not consider contenders beating the U.S. in the provision of health care services. Slovenia at 38th and Cuba at 39th are right on our heels.

Something is tragically wrong with this picture, particularly when one considers the percentage of gross domestic product spent on health care. The U.S. typically spends between 13 and 15 percent of its GDP on health care and it is beat by just one country, the Marshall Islands, which ranges between 15 and 22 percent of GDP spent on health care. How can this much be spent with such little return on investment? I’m sure there are some valid reasons for the situation we find ourselves in, but there also have to be some answers out there on how to improve the situation. Any ideas?

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