Monday, August 29, 2005

Preventing Deaths in Hospitals

It has been nearly 5 years since the Institute of Medicine published its report saying that nearly 100,000 preventable deaths occurred in US hospitals in a year’s time.  Various organizations, including the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), have taken on the task of reducing preventable deaths and injuries.  The IHI has recruited over 2,000 hospitals to focus on this issue.

We’ve found that too many patients and patient family members have not inquired about adverse events that may have had an impact on the patient.  Instead, they say “Well, it was his time to go.”, after a death.  Or, “It was an accident.  Those things just happen.”  Neither of these responses help hospitals in the long run.  Hospitals need to have mechanisms to report errors and safety problems that are anonymous and protect the reporter from disciplinary action by the hospital or by the lawyers.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Tort Reform

The people on both sides of the tort reform issue are still going at each other. It should be, many say, that the attention should be focused on the physicians and their patients. But somehow much of the attention is on the trial lawyers. Tort reform, for some, seems to be punishment for the lawyers.
These issues should be split, with one focus on improvements in the legal system and another on improvements in healthcare. Both can be improved.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Understanding Human Behavior

With all the craziness going on in the world, such as the evil-doers as our leader likes to call them, we ask "Why do people do such things?" This is at least partly in the realm of sociology, with which I usually associate myself.

Now that the tsunami has come along, we ask, "Why does Mother Nature do such things to us." Of course Mother Nature has been doing things all along, such as earthquakes. Mother Nature is another evil-doer some are saying. Others say that if we hadn't destroyed the local coast line that Mother Nature created in the first place, the tsunami would have been just a natural event and it wouldn't have hurt so many. So now we're back to people as the ultimate evil-doers.

In sociology, we ask not why things go wrong, but how is it that things go along as smoothly as they do from day to day and year to year. How is it that we can live as peacefully as we do with one another? That's what we need to explain.