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Cartoon: Electronic Medical Errors May Be Impossible To Erase

E-prescribing Has Similar Error Rate To Hand-Written Prescriptions

About 10% of computer-generated prescriptions included at least one error, of which a third had potential for harm, researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

This errors rate matched that of handwritten prescriptions, deflating at least one reason for the federal government’s incentives to switch providers to e-prescribing. The government had provided incentives for switching to e-prescribing; those turned to penalties for not doing so on July 30.

Researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study of 3,850 e-prescriptions received by a commercial outpatient pharmacy chain across three states over four weeks in 2008. A panel reviewed them for medication errors, potential adverse drug events, and rate of prescribing errors by type and by prescribing system. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

The Case Of The Lost Pager: A New Kind Of Medical Error?

It happens to every doctor at some time in their busy career: the missing pager. Usually, discovering the locale of the digital disrupter is quite simple: you simply page yourself provided, of course, that the contraption is not on “vibrate” mode.

And so it was with me some time ago.

The scene was a familiar one: rushing off to work, heading out the door while contemplating the upcoming caseload of the day with my mind wandering off to great medical thoughts when, suddenly, I reached to my hip to find that I had forgotten my pager.


So back to the house I go and scramble for the telephone. My wife, hearing the door opening calls back from upstairs: “Something wrong, dear?”

“No, just forgot my *@#$&#*& pager. No biggie.”

So I called the paging number and waited. (Why it takes so long for electrons to travel to space and back is beyond me.) Some time later I heard in the distance: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

Physician Almost Places Feeding Tube In Wrong Patient

Photo Credit

I barely escaped from an embarrassing situation recently in the hospital. I was consulted to place a feeding tube, called a PEG, in an ICU patient. We gastroenterologists are rarely consulted for our opinion on whether these tubes make sense, which they often don’t. We are recruited to these patients simply to perform the technical function of inserting the tubes, so that Granny, or Great-Granny, or Great-Great… , won’t starve. Multiple medical studies have demonstrated that providing this nutrition to individuals with advanced dementia doesn’t benefit them. In addition, while it may seem intuitive that artificial feeding provides comfort, this may not be the case. It may provide more comfort to the physicians and family than it does to the patient. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at MD Whistleblower*

Olympian Impregnated With The Wrong Embryo

Olympic winner and motivational speaker, Jim Stovall once said “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.” In September 2009, I wrote about a blog about Carolyn Savage, a 40 year old woman with a poor obstetrical history. Savage married her college sweetheart and had an uncomplicated first pregnancy. However, her second child was born prematurely. She had 4 subsequent miscarriages and ten years later she became pregnant through in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Because the Savages wanted a large family, they tried IVF again. Unfortunately, Savage was impregnated with the wrong embryo. To their credit, everyone rose to the highest level of integrity. The infertility clinic informed the Savage family as soon as the mistake was discovered and then gave them the option of terminating the pregnancy or continuing it. The Savage family then had to inform the rightful parents of the embryo that were not expecting to have a baby any time soon but was now faced with that dilemma. Savage ultimately delivered the baby and then handed it over to its rightful parent, the Morrell family. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway*

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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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