Memo: Medical Safety Isn’t Hard
As I discovered from the responses to my post on tort reform yesterday, there is something of a sacrosanct atmosphere connected with medicine. Of course, having had really good doctors for the most part, I am generally respectful of the practitioners of medicine, too.
One good friend who also was a good doctor reminded us that calling doctors’ profession a “practice” had a lot of meaning. Each person, and each medical episode, is unique. In order to treat it, that particular doctor realized, usually a certain amount of uncertainty was involved. He also noted that if he found himself looking at something as just another episode of uninteresting routine, he should not continue practicing medicine.
One leading medical research projects involved imposing a check list before medical procedures could be performed. Dr. Pronovost of Johns Hopkins, who performed the research, encountered indignation and irascibility, but his findings show the acute need for such a step.
Peter Pronovost, a Johns Hopkins anesthesiologist who has convinced some of the country’s most prestigious hospitals to fight infections with a simple five-point checklist.His message: If health care workers took five steps as easy as washing their hands and wearing sterile gloves and gowns, they could virtually eliminate one of the most lethal infections among their sickest patients.
When a medical team introduces a checklist into its routine, he says, a nurse can remind a surgeon that he or she hasn’t done the requisite hand-washing—something that many nurses wouldn’t dare to do in a traditional hospital setting.
“In 1990, people wouldn’t have been talking about checklists at all. This whole approach to patient-centeredness and consumerism in medicine—those are all relatively new concepts,” said cardiac surgeon Dr. William Berry, a Harvard researcher who is working on the Safe Surgery Saves Lives Initiative with the World Health Organization.
Measures that work would appear to be exactly what would best serve the public. It’s the shame of the present dominant, right wing, element in our government that it does not try to do its job of protecting the public. Their method of reducing public safety by preventing suits against doctors looks increasingly like the sham it is
Check lists are not hard work, they are a basic safety measure. When their pride is getting in the way of treating patients, our medical personnel are incompetent.
Tort reform looks increasingly like the last refuge of scoundrels.