The Arizona Daily Star provides us with some information about Patient Care Advocates, a company started recently out of Tucson, that provides skilled individuals who will help individuals increase their likelihood of navigating the healthcare process safely. A large part of the reason the company has a market for its services is worry about medical malpractice.
Dr. Allan Hamilton, neurosurgeon at the University of Arizona, says: "[h]aving a guardian angel to watch over you is critical if you are the patient and want to get out of the hospital alive. Most folks have no idea how prone the medical field is to mistakes." The services are not cheap but may be life saving. News to me was the discovery that some health insurers are paying for these types of patient advocate services. There’s wisdom behind that in light of the expense that occurs when malpractice happens. In that sense, patient advocate services are simply another type of preventative medicine.
However, one commentator states, "[i]t signals that people are losing faith that hospitals can provide safe care. It’s a clear statement that the system is broken, and instead of fixing it, you have to hire someone to get you through it safely. If this industry really takes off, this is not where we want to be." I'm not so sure. Maybe it's time we recognize that, skilled and careful as our healthcare providers are, another safeguard in the system will often be helpful in reducing medical errors.