Here are a couple of facts that, taken together, add up to predictably bad news.
Although he didn't say it in exactly the following words, a leading health care executive essentially conveyed this message recently at a major health industry function: If you want optimal medical care, it often helps to be white, heterosexual, covered by company-sponsored insurance coverage and with a past history of satisfactory outcomes following interaction with health care providers.
Persons who believe that the use of illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine is of epidemic proportions in the United States and constitutes a health care problem of unprecedented magnitude should consider this fact: Overdoses of medications duly prescribed by doctors annually result in more users' fatalities than is the case with all deaths related to heroin and cocaine combined.
A variety of strategies have been proposed in the effort to curb medication error rates in clinics and hospitals across the United States. Now a new study claims to have a solution that will make a big dent in medical harm rates: education interventions for physicians.
"The medical community, in my humble opinion, is not taking this drug seriously."
A patient who takes a prescription drug trusts that the medication will work the way it's supposed to. After all, medications are regulated by the Federal Drug Administration, and drug manufacturers release them only after rigorous clinical testing to rule out dangerous side effects. But a new study, published in this issue of Annals of Oncology, suggests that some drug testing reports are biased and unreliable. The study analyzed what it called the "gold standard" of research tools for new drugs: the randomized clinical trial. Objective reporting of the results of these controlled experiments is essential so that physicians can trust the information they receive about the drug interactions.
Medical malpractice is hardly anything new or a novel development in American hospitals, but the problem in facilities across the country -- both big and small, acclaimed or otherwise -- persists to a troublesome and dangerous degree. It does so despite its clear recognition in the medical industry and well-considered systemic efforts (guidelines, checklists, surgical "timeouts," etc.) to tame it.
"I suspect that the bad guys have clocked onto the huge profits that can be made," says Andrew Jackson, the global security chief for the drug manufacturer Novartis AG.
A major concern of the medical industry -- something that is repeated over and over and has clearly not been dealt with as hoped for within the field -- is preventable medical error.
Medical mistakes in a number of California hospitals closely mirror those that occur elsewhere in medical facilities across the country. They are being publicized by that state's Department of Public Health, with the stated goal being "to reduce surgical and medication mistakes."