Monday, August 08, 2005


Where's the Safety? Where's the Quality?

A little blurb on President Bush's signing of the new Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 (as reported in OutPatient Surgery eWeekly), included these highlights. In addition to creating a "national medical-error database," the bill:

*makes error reporting by healthcare facilities voluntary, not mandatory
*allows data that's reported to the public to NOT identify specific patients, the health care providers who made the error or the people who reported the error.
*says that data cannot be used against health-care providers for lawsuits or by regulatory/accreditation bodies.

Whew! I feel safer, don't you? In this era of transparency and so-called heightened scrutiny, here's a law that allows hospitals, doctors and providers that make mistakes to hide behind them, admit only the facts and not face up to the responsibility and consequences of those errors. A "yet-to-be-named federal patient safety body" will set practice and policy recommendations.

Every child left behind...and every patient, too?

Do YOU feel safer knowing this?

Neither do I...


Surgery = Drugs = Consumer Doubts

Are you tired of hearing about the purple pill? The letdown of erectile dysfunction? The possible side effects of antidepressants ("can cause nausea, lack of appetite, sleeplessness or agitation, and your tongue might fall out")?

You're apparently not alone. A recent report from Find/SVP market reserach firm (quoted in PRWeek magazine) finds that consumers not only don't trust the TV ads they've bombarded with about prescription drugs, a slim majority of them wouldn't mind if the ads just disappeared.


Of all the sources of information that consumers consider to be the MOST reliable for prescription drugs, TV or radio commercials rank DEAD LAST (17%), followed by newspaper/magazine ads (18%), friends/relatives (31%), news articles or programs (42%), drug-company web sites (42%) and other health web sites (43%), the FDA's web site (62%), health-care professionals and doctors'-office brochures (63%, a tie), information leaflets inside the drug boxes (80%), their doctors (85%) and....coming in as MOST reliable...a pharmacist (87%).

In fact, consumers say they wouldn't mind being told about possible risks/side effects of drugs....IF the drug companies would just be honest about all possibilities and not try to hide or gloss them over the things that can go wrong (or, as I've noticed while watching TV ads, hide them inside dancing animated butterflies and woo-woo-don't-worry-be-happy music).

In a separate Harris poll, 51% of consumers aid they'd be OK if the FDA went back to its original stance and prohibited ads targeted directly at consumers (there was a time when drug companies could market only to doctors and pharmacists).

Just remember: if you're scheduled for surgery, you're GOING to be taking drugs of some kind. Make sure you know what you're taking, why you're taking it, what to expect, what to look for in terms of side effects and how much it'll cost.

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