A Facebook friend from New Zealand, Marie Bismark, writes:
I enjoy reading your blog and was greatly impressed with the honesty and openness of your response to the wrong site surgery incident. As always, my first thoughts are with the patient - and I trust that your hospital has found a way to meet the needs of patients who suffer such injuries without needing to engage in adversarial legal proceedings.
I've always felt very lucky to live, and practice medicine in New Zealand, where issues of compensation are dealt with quite separately from issues of professional and organisational accountability. All patients who suffer a treatment injury caused by medical care are eligible for no-fault, government funded, compensation (with no need to prove negligence). Claims are usually decided within a matter of days, and the package of care includes financial compensation as well as free treatment, rehabilitation, home help, childcare, and so on. As part of a separate process, a health ombudsman can inquire into the quality of care that was provided and make recommendations for systems improvement, further staff training etc.
Not likely to happen here, I'd guess, given the political influence of lawyers and a strong desire on the part of many to insist on financial or other punishment as a form of recompense. (A timely coincidence: See the sentence used in the noun example on Wiktionary to help define "recompense".)