I don’t know what’s going on with American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) lately, but it’s disheartening. Their abdication of responsibility and engagement during the healthcare reform debate was depressing. Then there was a rigged poll designed to elicit a predetermined result. Now I see a bizarre op-ed piece in USA Today entitled “Opposing view on drug addiction: Don’t make us ‘pain police'” and authored by ACEP President Angela Gardener. An excerpt:
The patient-physician relationship is sacrosanct, demanding candor and trust. In the emergency department, trust is built in nanoseconds because patients and doctors do not have prior relationships. Knowing that any pain prescription will be entered into a large, public database might prevent patients from being truthful, or in the worst case, from seeking needed care. … As an emergency physician, I can assure you that the drug abusers who use the emergency room simply to get a prescription drug fix represent a micropopulation of the 120 million patients who seek emergency care every year in the USA. … Put bluntly, if legislators have money to spend, they should spend it where it will do the most good for our patients, and that is not on drug databases.
I really don’t know what to say, other than to wonder whether Dr. Gardner and I practice in the same United States in which abuse of prescription drugs is growing exponentially and in which “drug-seeking” patients are a part of each and every shift worked in the ER, where deaths due to overdoses of prescription medications are on the rise, and where diversion of narcotics is a serious and growing problem. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*
Emergency physicians are in a dilemma. Risk missing a diagnosis and be sued, or be criticized for overtesting.
Regular readers of this blog, along with many other physicians’ blogs, are familiar with the difficult choices facing doctors in the emergency department.
The Associated Press, continuing its excellent series on overtesting, discusses how lawsuit fears is a leading driver of unnecessary tests. Consider chest pain, one of the most common presenting symptoms in the ER:
Patients with suspected heart attacks often get the range of what the ER offers, from multiple blood tests that can quickly add up in cost, to X-rays and EKGs, to costly CT scans, which are becoming routine in some hospital ERs for diagnosing heart attacks …
… and the battery of testing may be paying off: A few decades ago insurance statistics showed that about 5 percent of heart attacks were missed in the emergency room. Now it’s well under 1 percent, said Dr. Robert Bitterman, head of the American College of Emergency Physicians’ medical-legal committee.
“But you still get sued if you miss them,” Bitterman added.
The American Medical Association’s idea of providing malpractice protection if doctors follow standardized, evidence-based guidelines makes sense in these cases. Furthermore, it can also help reduce the significant practice variation that health reformers continually focus on. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*
I recently spoke at the panel on transparency at Edelman’s New Media Academic Summit. Ben Boyd was the moderator and Ellen Miller from the Sunlight Foundation was my fellow panelist.
Reviewing some of the #nmas10 tweets from the audience, I figured I should provide some links for the anecdotes I mentioned:
Special thanks to Dr. Val Jones of Better Health for getting me involved with this group.
*This blog post was originally published at Blogborygmi*