Today's OpEds: Opposing Views On Hospital Medical Errors; Lesson For Andy Harris; Dems And Abortion

Our View On Your Health: Preventable Medical Mistakes Take An Intolerable Toll
If a 747 jetliner crashed every day, killing all 500 people aboard, there would be a national uproar over aviation safety and an all-out mobilization to fix the problem. In the nation's hospitals, though, about the same number of people die on average every day from medical "adverse events," many of them preventable errors such as infections or incorrect medications. Where's the outrage? (USA Today, 11/18).

Opposing View On Your Health: Hospitals Take Steps To Improve
Every hospital is committed to providing patients with the right care at the right time in the right setting. ... Through the American Hospital Association, they work to share knowledge and put in place procedures that will prevent any practice that could lead to a bad outcome for a patient. But a misguided mechanism in the new health reform law that would financially penalize a flat percentage of hospitals every year will discourage the crucial practice of reporting, and learning from, unfortunate events (Rich Umbdenstock, USA Today, 11/18).

Andy Harris Learns A Lesson
Mr. Harris, a Republican and a physician who was elected this month to represent Maryland's 1st District, will surely chalk this one up as a painful object lesson in the "gotcha" culture of Washington, where reporters were eager to pounce on the health care reform opponent's apparent dismay that his new benefits wouldn't kick in until he'd been on the job for a month. But here's hoping that instead, Mr. Harris takes away a lesson in the problems millions of Americans face in getting and keeping health insurance, and uses that experience to inform his lawmaking. (The Baltimore Sun, 11/18). 

Keep Up The Momentum Against Smoking In State
Wisconsin needs to continue to support funding for smoking cessation efforts. Unfortunately, Wisconsin's program already was cut by 55% in the last budget, down to its lowest level ever. That is both shocking and sad. Any further cuts would be devastating (Dona Wininsky, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11/18).

Abortion Issue May Return
As Democrats continue to sift through the electoral ashes of the midterm meltdown, a number of longtime activists have begun to insist that the party needs to reassert more clearly and forcefully its commitment to reproductive rights. Their argument is that in key states where Democratic senators survived the prevailing anti-incumbent sentiment notably California and, much more narrowly, Colorado, Nevada and Washington voters who indicated the greatest concern with a candidate's stand on abortion provided the margin of victory (Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times, 11/17).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.