Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Emergency Medicine: Who Should Set The Standard Of Care?

According to the Standard of Care Project at EP Monthly:

The Power of Agreement

We can stop baseless malpractice suits before they get started. How? By having a majority of practicing emergency physicians go on record as to the baseline “standard of care,” beneath which is negligence.

This has been rolling for a while, and I’ve been late to blog it. That does not in any way mean I’m not 100 percent FOR it.

The idea is beautifully simple: The standard of care in emergency medicine (EM) should be set by practicing EM physicians, not case-by case in courts before lay juries with battling experts. (AAEM had the “remarkable testimony” series as a retrospective attempt to shame “experts” who gave, well, remarkable statements under oath, which to date has two cases in it.)

This has the very real advantage of being a clear, concise peer statement that this is/is not the standard of care.

I voted (while at ACEP). If you’re an emergency physician (and you have to cough up some information to determine your bona-fides before you can vote), go to the Standard of Care Project and cast your vote. They’ve set the bar at 30,000 votes, which is ambitious. It’s also worth it.

*This blog post was originally published at GruntDoc*

Hot Topic: Certification Of ER Doctors

Texas is at the center of a heated national battle over the training emergency physicians need in order to advertise themselves as “board certified.” Via the Houston Chronicle:

At stake is the welfare of patients requiring immediate medical attention. Leaders of the traditional board say allowing physicians without proper training to advertise themselves as board-certified would mislead the public. Leaders of the alternative board say the proposed rule change will undermine the ability of Texas’ rural hospitals to staff their emergency departments with board-certified ER physicians.

A final verdict may only come, given one board’s already delivered threat, in a court of law.

At stake also are the careers of a lot of practicing Emergency Physicians, many of whom I’m proud to call friends and colleagues. (And it’s not just docs at rural hospitals, they’re in nearly every ED in Texas, and your lesser state).  They practice high quality Emergency Medicine, and I have no qualms about the practice of those who are alternately boarded. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at GruntDoc*

Proposed SGR Fix: An Interesting Twist

This is something I haven’t seen reported on elsewhere, but according to the ACEP 911 Legislative Network Weekly Update, there was an interesting twist in the Democrats’ proposed SGR fix:

The latest plan increases physician payments by 1.3% for the remainder of this year and by an additional 1% in 2011. In 2012 and 2013, physician services would be separated into two categories, or “buckets.” One bucket would be for E&M services (including emergency department, primary and preventive care) and the other group would include all other services. The E&M bucket would increase at the same rate as the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) plus 2%, while the other group would receive a payment increase of GDP plus 1%.After 2013, the payment formula would revert back to the current SGR formula, which means physicians would face cuts in the range of 30-35% unless Congress intervenes.

So it’s another temporary fix, kicking the can past the next presidential election. But it’s the first one I have seen that attempts to address the gross disparity in reimbursement for procedural services compared to the cognitive services. It bypasses the RUC and almost every other existing mechanism for determining reimbursement under the MPFS.

I’m not sure what happened with this proposal. I don’t think it was in the version of legislation the House passed, so I think it might be dead. But the situation is so in flux that who really knows? If nothing else, it’s an encouraging sign that policymakers know the problem exists and are willing to throw out possible solutions. This one may be dead, but it’s a good start.

*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*

Lobsters Of Medicine

I’ve never cooked lobsters but was reminded of the trick to the recipe today: if you try to put lobsters into boiling water you’ll have a big fight and it won’t go well, but put them in cool water and slowly turn up the heat, by the time they realize there’s a problem they’re cooked.

I thought about this while turning sideways between gurneys in the hall to get through to the next patient of many.

The temperature in my ED continues to climb, but I’ve been here so long it just seems like it’s getting a little warm.

ED’s everywhere have rising census, increasing demands, physical plants that aren’t keeping up with the crush.

Coal mines have canaries.  Medicine has lobsters.

It’s getting warm, but there’s plenty of time.


Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »