A post-discharge study of 780 Medicare patients treated in hospitals in October 2008 found that "about one in seven patients (13.5%) experienced at least one serious instance of harm from medical care that prolonged their hospital stay, caused permanent harm, required life-sustaining intervention, or contributed to their deaths," USA Today reports in a column by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services. "Medication errors factored in more than half the patient fatalities in our sample, including use of the wrong drug, giving the wrong dosage, or inadequately treating known side effects."
I don't know that non-Medicare patients get treated any worse or any better than the Medicare patients. But this quality issue is a scandal that deserves as much, maybe more attention than the cost and access issues that got all the attention during health reform. What's the point of making sure someone has health insurance if when the person gets to the hospital the doctors are just going to give him the wrong medicine or the wrong dose of medicine?