Archive for the ‘Medical Care’ Category

Service of Harried Healthcare Staffers: Impact on Patient Patience & Security

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

Nurse at desk

A friend wrote this post and the timing was perfect. It took two days for my husband to receive a prescription last week when it formerly took hours. One misplaced prescription spawned countless phone calls because the pharmacist never got the first digital request. Before the “new and improved” system—I wrote in April about NY State’s electronic prescription law–often meds were waiting for him on his return from his appointment. Thank goodness it wasn’t a life-saving medication.

She wrote:

Have you noticed that the support staff in many doctors’ offices seems overworked?  Because they are, you may have been on the receiving end of deep sighs, harrumphs, blank stares, disconnected calls or worse. And because these things happen so frequently, I guess we have to learn to live with them. But when, within a 24-hour period, three harried-health-care-worker incidents occurred that not only inconvenienced me but also potentially put my identity, my health and my mother’s health at risk, I got angry.

Bloody Irritating

receptionist in dr officeThe first incident involved a blood draw at a hospital that consistently earns a top ranking on the U.S. News & World Report list of top hospitals in the country. The patient who had registered with the receptionist just before me gave her a hard time about something. I wasn’t really listening but I was aware that the patient had raised her voice before storming out. I was next in line, and as I approached the check-in desk I instantly decided to be extra-nice to the receptionist, who clearly was frustrated.  I made some upbeat small talk as I handed her my prescription, which was written in typical physician hieroglyphs. She narrowed her eyes and asked no one in particular, “Why can’t doctors write more clearly?!” Since she was having difficulty deciphering his handwriting, she summoned a colleague for assistance. I watched as the second set of eyes narrowed, and then a what-do-you-think-this-prescription-says guessing-game commenced.  I quickly offered to call the doctor to get the definitive word about the prescription—which, of course, is what the receptionist should have done–but I was ignored. So, because I was facing a time crunch, I proceeded to the lab, had blood drawn, and then headed home. By the time I reached my house, there was a message on my answering machine from the lab manager informing me that they had not drawn enough blood because they had misinterpreted the physician’s instructions. As a result, I needed to return to the hospital. Not only was that inconvenient, it also left me wondering whether their final interpretation of the doctor’s handwriting was correct or not.

Facts? What Facts?

Patient recordsLater that day, I brought my elderly mother to an appointment with a pulmonologist. Although this was the first time she was seeing this doctor, he is affiliated with the aforementioned hospital, where she’d had several admissions. This facility keeps a centralized database of patient records, which is accessible to all doctors affiliated with the hospital. Because the doctor’s staff neglected to send us paperwork in advance, I spent 20 minutes entering mom’s current health data. She takes lots of prescriptions, and the dosages and names change frequently. As a result, she always carries an up-to-date list in her handbag.  At the conclusion of the appointment the staff gave us a report with test results and other info. My mother glanced at it and noticed that some, but not all, of her current meds were listed, and the report included several mistakes in dosages. I knew I had not entered incorrect info on my mother’s paperwork, so I asked the receptionist how all these errors had happened. Did the old records override the new ones? Did someone choose not to enter the new info because they were too busy? I’ll never know because I didn’t receive a coherent explanation. What’s the point of providing a list of a patient’s current meds if the info isn’t entered into the patient’s records? More importantly, how can a doctor make sound recommendations to a patient if the doctor doesn’t have up-to-date facts?

Vanishing Act

medicare cardThe third incident occurred the next morning at a surgeon’s office. I had been there at least five times over the past four months for treatment of a complication following a procedure. At my April appointment I provided updated insurance information and watched as the receptionist photocopied my brand-new Medicare and insurance cards. By the time I arrived for my next appointment, in July, that info had vanished. There simply was no record of it. When I told the receptionist which of her colleagues had photocopied my cards, I was met with blank stares. I ask you: Where does this stuff go??? The incident was disturbing because those cards included everything needed to steal my identity. Although the receptionist reacted with a shrug of her shoulders and a “yeah, this happens every day” attitude, their carelessness was a big deal to me because it has the potential to cause significant consequences.

I get angry and concerned when mistakes are made by health care employees because there simply is no room for error in their industry.  Am I unrealistic, or do I have a right to feel this way? More importantly, what can patients do to ensure that no one involved in their health care cuts corners?

 

blank stare

Service of Words That Should be Changed or that Need No Embellishment

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Forbidden word

Pick Another Word

The people who selected key words in the following examples didn’t think of their impact on others.

  • Words have powerIn this first instance, the name of a clinic was selected from the point of view of health professionals. It didn’t have patients in mind. A friend, I’ll call her Nora, received a call from out of the blue from the “Survivorship Center.” At first she thought it was a scam and that the person on the line was asking for funds. She’d been going for checkups to the prestigious Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. During the call she learned that the nurse practitioner she’d seen for years was leaving the Institute and that she was now assigned to the Survivorship Clinic. Nora told me: “I don’t like being categorized as a ‘survivor,’ and I don’t want to be a card-carrying member of such a group. I’m not ashamed of having had breast cancer, but that I had it shouldn’t be part of my identity.” She was infuriated when she received a letter in the mail with the clinic’s name on it. She hasn’t blasted the news of her previous illness and resented that the postal worker saw the name of the clinic. She felt it was an invasion of her privacy. In a second call to this clinic Nora told the person she spoke with that she thought that the name was dreadful—even tacky. Her response was that Nora was free to go elsewhere.
  • Then there was a word I’ve referenced before: Relocatable. That’s what the Air Force called a certain type of housing back in the day. The word focused on how the structure might be easily moved with no regard to how it sounded to people asked to live in it. It had no appeal to those assigned to the punishing North Dakota climate known for minus 60 degree temperatures and ferocious winter winds. The word implied flimsy and evoked images of belongings flying in the air should a Wizard of Oz-strong cyclone hit. Many of the relocatables remained empty in spite of a base housing shortage.Redundancy

Redundant: You Are or You Aren’t

 

  • I sat up straight when I heard a supporter describe a political candidate as “very, very honest.” There are some words that need no embellishment. Honest is one of them.
  • Queen Anne-style armchair

    Queen Anne-style armchair

    With furniture, if a piece imitates an original, the word “style” clarifies what it is, as in “Victorian-style chest,” or “Queen Anne- style chair.” But a doctor, artist, PR person or bus driver is or isn’t.

  • In this context, early one morning last week Len Berman told his listeners about a UK-based company that is now set up to work in NYC to fight parking tickets. It bills itself as “the world’s first robot lawyer.” As the WOR-Radio co-host of “Len Berman and Todd Schnitt in the Morning” read copy about this service he hesitated after saying “A real lawyer” and repeated, “real lawyer?” then continued. I, too, would have paused. Is there an unreal lawyer?
  • Len Berman

    Len Berman

    Do certain words that name a service, organization or product rub you the wrong way or create a negative image? Do you think that let-it-all-hang-out TV programs, where people share the most intimate information about themselves, impacted the choice of the Survivorship Clinic’s name?

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks,” said  Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother, which I thought when I heard “very” matched with “honest.” Other examples? What about the reference to a “real lawyer?”

Claire Bloom as Gertrude

Claire Bloom as Gertrude

Service of Learning from Costly Medical Mistakes

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Whoops

Umpteen articles and op-eds have been written about malpractice lawsuits. I found Laura Landro’s Wall Street Journal piece heartening as she described how doctors are using the information to improve care.

This approach is clearly a benefit to physicians to alleviate the number of distracting and time-consuming lawsuits made against them but as a patient, I was glad that someone is learning from the mistakes to prevent future instances. I also hope this initiative is nothing new.

MalpracticeIn “Mining Malpractice Data to Make Health Care Safer,” Landro reports on a 2013 study that doctors spend “11 percent of a 40 year career with an unresolved, open malpractice case.” Scarier is the statistic that “250,000 deaths a year are due to medical error.” This, according to Landro, came from a recent article in BMJ that noted findings by Johns Hopkins researchers. Commonly the causes are misdiagnosis or “poor technique in a procedure.”

Landro broke out what doctors in a few specialties have learned:

  • Usually overweight mothers matched with larger babies can cause shoulder injuries to infants if they get stuck inside the mother. By identifying those who might be at risk for this set of circumstances, a hospital and doctor can address the option of a C-section early.
  • In the ER, one doctor noticed that “failure to explore a wound that was infected or contained foreign bodies was a key factor in many cases.” Now a doctor in that hospital must check a wound after a nurse or PA attends to it and before it’s sewn up. They noticed that this, alone, didn’t do the trick because sometimes they miss, say, a stingray barb. Therefore patients must be instructed to return to the hospital if they don’t feel well.
  • In cardiology, blood thinners cause problems because “patients haven’t been properly educated about the risks and didn’t understand follow up instructions.” And when more than one doctor is involved, each may think that the other one has taken care of communicating this information. The solution was to ensure all patients on blood thinners are “‘set up with effective management,’” wrote Landro, quoting Dr. Sandeep Mangalmurti, a cardiologist.knee PT
  • Follow up is also crucial in knee and hip replacement cases where patients don’t “adhere to a treatment plan or keep follow-up appointments.” A third of cases involved injury as a result. One doctor and his group use a mobile app to send reminders to patients about making appointments and follow-up procedures.

By the end of the article we read that improved communications between doctors and patients is paramount. To that I must add a loud “duh.” Isn’t this a tall order in a system in which patients see a doctor for minutes a visit and often a different doctor each time?

  • Doctor checkup reminderDoesn’t a lot of what the doctors found went wrong repeatedly seem like what common sense should have prevented?
  • Would you be less likely to start a medical malpractice suit if you felt the physician and his/her team had done everything possible to care for you or a loved one?
  • Have you ever felt that a health care professional treated you or a loved one indifferently—that you were lucky nothing tragic happened as a result?
  • Have you heard of initiatives that take advantage of such date, like these?

Doctor communicating

Service of Gentle Care at the Hospital

Monday, April 18th, 2016

Doctor greeting patient 1

If you need medical attention, it’s a blessing when you’re treated kindly. It might even make you feel–if not get–better.

Big Apple

I was taking in the scene at a bustling waiting room at New York Hospital (NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center) last week. Periodically technicians or doctors stood at the door and called a name. An elderly woman got up to eventually follow a doctor down the hall and close behind was a man.

But first the doctor greeted and shook hands with both and invited the man to join them. “Oh I’m just the escort,” said the man after acknowledging that it had been two years since he last saw the doctor. I couldn’t tell if he was trying to be funny with his escort service remark when he added, “I’m her neighbor,” which didn’t clarify much. The neighbor turned to the patient and asked if she wanted him to come with her. She said “yes,” and off they went.

The patient’s comfort was the objective. The greeting wasted little time; nobody was rushed, resulting in the best, most relaxing outcome.  Anyone in the waiting room who observed this moment was charmed.

Bean Town

Faulkner Hospital

Faulkner Hospital

After an accident where she broke two fingers, a friend needed an operation and was elated at the care she received. This was at Brigham and Woman’s Faulkner Hospital in Boston, known by the locals as Faulkner Hospital. For starters, still shocked by the fall and in pain, she appreciated that the doctor’s office called her to set up the appointment and gave her the next available date at the location nearest her home. Philip E.  Blazar, M.D., her doctor, was forthright, offering to show her as much as she wanted to see/learn about the breaks and was undaunted by peripheral health issues that posed potential hurdles.

Smiling nurseShe knew precisely what to expect because the pre-op team, from surgeon and nurses to fellows, anesthesiologist and assistants, explained every step and reassured her.

Residents came to her room one at a time, introduced themselves, explained their function and confirmed that she understood what they said. The person charged with making her cast did it quickly, with concern for her mobility, and the outcome was pristine. She left after the operation with all follow-up appointments set with the surgeon and a variety of occupational therapists.

Hospital staff was polite, detail-oriented and kind. Even the cleaning crew seemed happy. On every visit, if my friend or her husband passed anyone related to the hospital in a hallway, they’d ask if they might direct them to their destination. The receptionist seemed to keep track of patients to send husbands, wives or friends, coming separately, to the right floor.

Do you agree that how you’re treated is almost as important as the skill of the people who treat you? Have you observed or experienced similar recent examples to share?

Doctor greeting patient 2

Service of a New Twist on Identity Theft: A Hemorrhage in Medical Care

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

identity theft

Identity theft has spread from retail and banks to hospitals according to Stephanie Armour who reported the new contamination in her Wall Street Journal article, “How Identity Theft Sticks You With Hospital Bills: Thieves use stolen personal data to get treatment, drugs, medical equipment.

The only way that Kathleen Meiners, the mother of a man in his 30s with Down syndrome, could stop harassment by a hospital that claimed he’d had an operation was through the newspaper’s intervention.  Mrs. Meiners figured her son would quickly be off the hook after bringing him to the hospital so staff could see he’d had no procedure for a leg injury. But someone had to pay for the operation the identity thief had undergone so the hospital, ER physicians and radiologist continued to go after her son, eventually via collection agencies.

There’s more. With the thief’s medical charts “folded into” the victim’s, a person who doesn’t have diabetes might be shown to have it or the thief’s blood type might be listed as theirs. Mrs. Meiner’s son had no drug allergies but was listed as having some. Guess what? The victim can’t see the messed up medical records to untangle them because of privacy laws that protect the thief’s information.

Mrs. Meiners son isn’t alone. Armour wrote about a Florida woman who was charged for a foot amputation who showed up at the hospital to point out her two feet to no avail. A man learned someone had stolen all his benefits when he was refused a prescription refill.

Armour continued, “Fueling medical identity theft is the surge in electronic medical records and data breaches at insurers and health-care providers. Medical identity theft—in which someone fraudulently uses data to bill for medical services—affected 2.3 million adult patients in 2014 versus 1.4 million in 2009, according to a survey published in February by the Ponemon Institute LLC, a research concern.”

EmergencyTo help stem the tide, insurance companies have formed a Medical Identity Fraud Alliance and the FBI, Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] and the Justice Department are also investigating, according to Armour. And hospitals are getting into the act she wrote.  BayCare Health System in Florida asks patients if they want the veins in a palm scanned which is then “converted into a number that correlates with the patient’s medical record.” Other hospitals ask to see photo ID and are increasing digital security. Medicare cards distributed by HHS will no longer imbed social security numbers or show code according to a law the President signed in April.

“Unlike in financial identity theft,” wrote Armour, “health identity-theft victims can remain on the hook for payment because there is no health-care equivalent of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which limits consumers’ monetary losses if someone uses their credit information.” In Ponemon’s survey “65% of victims reported they spent an average of $13,500 to restore credit, pay health-care providers for fraudulent claims and correct inaccuracies in their health records.”

Armour reported that social security, Medicare and Medicaid numbers are sold on the black market for $50 vs. $6-$7 for a credit card number. The latter can be cancelled quickly hence the lesser value. “Sometimes, health-care providers are the perpetrators,” she wrote. “Federal prosecutors charged Dr. Kenneth Johnson with using Manor Medical Imaging, a Glendale, Calif. clinic, to write prescriptions for drugs and then sell them on the black market.”

Were you aware of this twist in identity theft? What can be done about it?

Identity theft 2

Service of Cost vs. Benefit in Healthcare: Who Decides?

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Photo rinehartclinic.org

Photo rinehartclinic.org

This New York Times article, “Cancer Doctors Offer Way to Compare Medicines, Including by Cost,” made significant—if terrifying–points in addition to how cost impacts what drugs a patient may get. Given their ineffectiveness, I wondered why those given as examples are prescribed in the first place.

If you or a loved one has a heart condition, don’t click away just yet: Reporter Andrew Pollack noted that cardiology societies are following in oncologists’ footsteps. And I wouldn’t be surprised if this trend soon affects patients with any and all conditions if it effectively cuts costs for insurers. 

Actor Robert Young playing Marcus Welby, MD

Actor Robert Young playing Marcus Welby, MD

Pollack wrote “Roche’s Avastin, when added to chemotherapy, had a net health benefit of 16 out of 130 possible points when used as an initial treatment for advanced lung cancer. Its monthly cost was $11,907.87, compared to $182.09 for the chemotherapy alone.

“Eli Lilly’s Alimta for that same use had a net health benefit of zero with a cost exceeding $9,000 a month compared to about $800 a month for the drugs it was compared to in the clinical trial.”

Later in the article Pollack spelled out the rating system: “Drugs for advanced cancer are given a score from 0 to 130. Up to 80 of the points are based on a drug’s effectiveness in prolonging lives, delaying the worsening of cancer or shrinking tumors. Then up to 20 points can be added or subtracted based on side effects. And up to 30 bonus points can be granted if the drug relieves cancer symptoms or allows a patient to go without treatment for a period of time.” 

Actor Hugh Laurie who plays Dr. House

Actor Hugh Laurie who plays Dr. House

Regardless of cost why would anyone prescribe a drug that benefits a patient from zero to 16 “points” out of 130?

Other news that was unsettling: “The release by the American Society of Clinical Oncology of what it calls its ‘value framework,’ is part of a change in thinking among doctors, who once largely chose drugs based on their medical attributes alone.” [The underline is mine.] Silly me: and I thought doctors still prescribe what they do according to how a drug helps a patient.

According to Pollack the average cost of cancer drugs runs $10,000/month and some as much as $30,000/month. This is information, Dr. Richard Schilsky said at a news conference, that some doctors don’t know nor do patients. Schilsky is chief medical officer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. [Why is this significant? Even if you've been paying for health insurance for eons and have hardly used a cent until you need to, you can reach the ceiling when off goes the insurance spigot.]

Pollack wrote that this value framework considers the cost to the patient and the health system.  I assume “health system” translates to government supported Medicare and Medicaid plans. 

Ingrid Bergman playing Dr. Constance Petersen

Ingrid Bergman playing Dr. Constance Petersen

As a result, Pollack observed, doctors are now put in the role of “being stewards of societal resources.” He continued, “That is somewhat of a controversial role for doctors, since it might conflict with their duty to the patient in front of them. But the oncology society said it did not see those roles as being in conflict.”

Other points Pollack made include:

  • A rep for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said the cost of drugs represents only 20 percent of treatment.
  • The cost of drugs is unrelated to how “novel it is or whether it prolonged life versus just shrinking tumors.”
  • In Britain, a drug is rated according to its “cost per extra year of life they provide adjusted by side effects and symptoms.”
  • Starting in June United Healthcare requires “oncologists to get prior approval from the insurance company for every cancer drug they administer. The company will then track what happens to patients and eventually provide information to doctors about how well each drug works.”

Summarizing the questions:

  • Why prescribe a drug that does little if anything to better a patient’s health or length of life?
  • Is a doctor who chooses a drug for a patient based solely on its medical attributes old fashioned and out of step and will he/she soon be forced out of work by insurance companies?
  • If a patient can scrape together the co-pay of a super expensive drug, can an insurance company refuse to pay its part? Then what?
  • Will United Healthcare only use its approval to track drug effectiveness, as Pollack suggests, or eventually will it control costs by refusing to pay?
  • Is the American Society of Clinical Oncology correct when it asserts that there is no conflict for doctors who are now made responsible for the country’s medical resources and their responsibility to their patients?
  • Unless people have unlimited incomes, most adults are aware of what they pay for food, beverages, clothing, shelter and only recently have they become aware of the cost of healthcare. Isn’t this a good thing?

  pills 2

Service of Medical Care Going the Extra Mile

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Extra mile

J. McCarthy, who posted a comment on my recent post, “Service of Little If Any Assistance: Physician Admin Staffs Fall Down on the Job,” followed up a few days ago with another relevant comment describing medical care that he had just received from several doctors and their staffs.  It warranted a post of its own, not just to present a fresh perspective on medical care, but also because the woman who wrote the previous post made the most distressing point about how horribly she had been treated by several of her doctors and their administrative staffs.

He wrote:

I’m referring to my previous advice, “Do what a specialist with a national reputation told me to do. ‘If you want to get a good doctor, get an old doctor.’ Old doctors tend to have competent staffs.” The following story about what led up to the unsolicited, unexpected phone call my ophthalmologist’s most solicitous, crack, long-time nurse just made to me, might be of interest to your readers.

happy patient 3On a visit for my routine annual eye checkup, I told the ophthalmologist about something strange that had happened recently with one of my eyes. He took it seriously and gave me an even more extensive examination than usual. After it, he told me that there was nothing wrong with my eyes, but that he suspected I might have a circulation problem. He asked me if I still was seeing my longtime cardiologist who coincidentally is his patient as well. I said yes, and he picked up the telephone and called him.

Three days later, I was in the cardiologist’s office. We go back 30 years, and even though he practically has my heart memorized by now, he thoroughly examined me. (He took my blood himself as he always does.) Next, he had his nurse, who has been with him since he opened his practice, hook me up to a bunch of machines and do a series of heart tests. I’ve known her as long as him, and trust her absolutely.

Happy patient 4The next day, the doctor called to tell me that the tests had turned up nothing new and that, as far as he could tell, I did not have a circulation problem. Then, he gave me two choices: Either I could see more specialists and take more tests to double check, or I could do nothing and see what happened. I chose to do nothing. My doctor agreed and said that he would follow up with our ophthalmologist. I was satisfied and thought that was the end of it, but it was not.

Nurse on phone 1What did theophthalmologist’s nurse call me about? Her boss wanted me to know that he fully concurred with thecardiologist’s and my decision. That was a call  that did not have to be made. It was going the “extra mile.”

Incidentally, both doctors accept insurance and are all well over 65. Their nurses both have been with them at least 20 years.

Have you heard of doctors who collaborate with each other and their nurses in this way? Or is medicine more like Washington where the executive and legislative branches clash, and our senators and congressmen and women don’t cooperate with each other? Do you have examples of medical admins in today’s “rush-rush” climate who make your day rather than ruin it?

Great communication

 

Service of Little If Any Assistance: Physician Admin Staffs Fall Down on the Job

Thursday, April 16th, 2015

Health admin staff 1

A friend, asked: “Have you done any posts about the outrageously discourteous way patients are sometimes treated by admin staff at doctors’ offices?”

I probably have, but neither recently nor covering any of these instances so I kept on reading as I trust you also will. I wish that her experiences were the exception. I fear that too many of us have similar ones to share.

She continued:  

health admin staff 2“I often wonder if these people are lazy, stupid, incompetent, or all three. Earlier today I brought Mom to a long-ago-scheduled appointment with an ophthalmologist. I called 30 minutes before the appointment to ask if the doctor was running on time with his appointments. I was told that he was. Mom and I arrived 10 minutes early, told the receptionist that we were there, then signed in on the clipboard. We spent the next 30 minutes watching patients who arrived after us get called in to see the doctor before us. When I checked the list we’d signed I found that four patients had signed in after Mom. When Mom asked the admin for an explanation, she was told there had been an emergency with a patient. That explanation may fly in a cardiologist’s office but I’m not buying it from an ophthalmologist.

“Although I wanted to walk out, we stayed so Mom could have her procedure. After it was complete and there was no longer a chance of alienating the doctor, I told him in so many words that his staff stinks. It’s unlikely we’ll go back. This won’t be the first time Mom or I have left a doctor’s practice, not because of an inadequacy on the physician’s part but because of incompetent staff.

Prescription“In another annoying medical-related incident, we learned that the results of Mom’s blood test, which had been performed March 25, still had not arrived at her cardiologist’s office as of March 30. We called the lab and learned that lab personnel had faxed the results to the wrong number. The transmission failed, of course, but apparently it didn’t occur to anyone at the lab to check the number on the test prescription or to call the doctor’s office and confirm it. Instead they did nothing whatsoever.

“Last week I received a bill for $240 for a simple procedure I’d had done in a dermatologist’s office. It was my first appointment with this doctor. I have a very pricey insurance policy that, in the past, always has covered this type of procedure 100 percent, so you can imagine my surprise at receiving this bill. Upon closer inspection I found a line that said: “No insurance information is on file at this doctor’s office.” Really? Was it my imagination that I spent 15 minutes filling out paperwork before the doctor saw me? Was I hallucinating when I handed the admin my insurance photocopiercard and saw her copy it on the photocopier?

“I try to give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to a lot of things but this lack of courtesy and common sense by admins in medical facilities makes me absolutely crazy. I’m sure I’m not alone.”

My friend asks for strategies on how you navigate through the oceans of incompetency in this industry. I’d like to know if you’ve experienced similar inexplicable glitches, if there seem to be more nowadays or, on the other hand, if the doctors you see are backed by teams of efficient, smart administrators?

 health admin staff 4

 

Service of It Must Be Good: It’s Expensive Part II

Monday, February 9th, 2015

placebo

The previous post covered wine, this one medical treatment.

What a Pill

“When patients with Parkinson’s disease received an injection described as an effective drug Getting an injectioncosting $1,500 per dose, their motor function improved significantly more than when they got one supposedly costing $100, scientists reported,” wrote Sharon Begley in “Expensive’ placebo beats ‘cheap’ one in Parkinson’s disease” on reuters.com.

“Underlining the power of expectations, the motor improvements, measured by a standard Parkinson’s assessment, occurred even though both injections contained only saline and no active ingredients.

“The research, said an editorial in the journal Neurology, which published it, ‘takes the study of placebo effect to a new dimension.’”

Of the dozen volunteers in the study, observed neurologist Alberto Espay, the greatest improvement happened for the eight who expected the expensive drug to be more effective. The other four, who didn’t anticipate benefits, showed little change, wrote Espay, University of Cincinnati, who led the study.

In your experience, what part of a successful treatment for illness involved the mind and what the medicine? If you pay a lot for a drug, treatment or physician, are you more confident that the results will be positive?

leaving a hospital

 

Service of Privacy II

Thursday, January 15th, 2015

watching tv late at night

In a holiday card a friend mentioned that she suffered from a condition I wasn’t familiar with. So I looked it up on Google, but I did so reluctantly. I figured that my SPAM file would soon be filled with remedies for the disease and that commercials about them would appear every time I opened Facebook, CVS or Amazon.

In The New York Times Metropolitan section Charles Ornstein wrote “Dying in the E.R. and on TV,” about a family shocked to learn that their father/husband’s last minutes on earth in an ER appeared on “NY Med.” His wife happened upon the program during a sleepless night about a year after her husband’s death. He’d been run over and doctors were shown trying to save him. They couldn’t.

no entry without permissionNobody got his or the family’s permission to film him nor were they aware that a film crew was in the ER. Even though the health department concluded that the hospital “had violated” the patient’s “rights and indeed, its own privacy policy” regulators “did not impose any sanctions on the hospital,” wrote Ornstein.

He continued, “Federal health officials are still reviewing whether NewYork-Presbyterian was obliged to get permission” from the patient “or his family before allowing a TV crew to film him.” The hospital’s lawyers argued in State Supreme Court that you need permission to share information after a person has been examined/treated but that the film was shot before. An appellate panel dismissed the case. The conduct “‘was not so extreme and outrageous’ to justify a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress,’ the judges wrote.”

Hospital erThe hospital also claimed that they didn’t identify the patient and nobody would know who he was. However a woman who knew the family called the patient’s wife and asked if she’d seen the program as she’d recognized her husband on the show. The wife and children said that they were traumatized.

The family wants the case to go in front of a jury as they feel that their peers would agree that “a wrong was done.” At the moment apparently there is no case. The dead man’s wife said that if there wasn’t a law to prevent such filming there should be one and she plans to make it her business to get one.

Would you want to be photographed in the E.R. without permission while out of it or subject a family member to the same, regardless of outcome of the treatment? Do you feel this instance was a breach of privacy? Do you think that the judges, who wrote that there was no “intentional infliction of emotional distress,” might say the same of anyone who has injured someone in an accident that clearly they did not mean to happen? Wouldn’t such a precedent remove the potential of millions of lawsuits in any number of instances?A law

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