|Myth or fact: Test results are black or white. If they say you have a disease, you have it; if they say you don’t, you don’t.
Fact: medical tests are not as accurate as you might think. Often when a test indicates that you have a disease, you may need a second test to know if that’s really true. In fact, in the case of mammograms, about ten times as many women are initially told that they have breast cancer as actually do have it. Further, about one woman in a thousand is told that she doesn’t have breast cancer when she does. See Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot’s book The Numbers Game, or pp. 149-150 in Killer Cure.
May 31, 2010
|You may get a false sense of security from having a medical test. This week’s blog highlights some gaps in the testing process so that you know what pitfalls to watch out for.|
May 28, 2010
|Don Berwick, eminent Harvard-trained physician, has told stories about the high volume of medical errors, medication errors, fragmented care, and other grave problems in health care delivery that have caused grievous harm — in his own family: stories about the care received by his father, by his wife, and by Dr. Berwick himself. No one is exempt; big changes are needed throughout the health care system for health care to enable people to lead the lives they want.|
May 27, 2010
May 26, 2010
|In May, 2009 Berwick wrote an article in the journal Health Affairs titled “What ‘Patient-Centered’ Should Mean: Confessions of an Extremist.” I wrote a response, suggesting that he wasn’t being extreme enough, and that health care needs to adopt a new purpose: to enable people to lead the lives they want. His published reply: “I agree completely with Ms. Bewley. The value of health care lies in the production of health, itself. I recoil when I hear ‘throughput’ as a measure of productivity in health care. What better measure of results could we ask for than the one Ms. Bewley proposes: ‘to enable people to lead the lives they want?’”|
May 25, 2010
|If you routinely feel diminished in dealing with a health care professional, and your polite attempts to correct the situation don’t work, it may be time to look elsewhere for care.
May 24, 2010
Myth or fact? “Berwick is a Washington insider steeped in politics.”
Fact: Berwick is a pediatrician and a professor at the Harvard Medical School. He is also the highly respected founder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, which for more than 20 years has led the charge in many national efforts to get hospitals to stop injuring people who enter them. He is not a political insider in Washington.
|Don Berwick is President Obama’s choice to run Medicare and Medicaid, which collectively pay for about half of the health care in the U.S. A few comments by or about Dr. Berwick follow.|
May 21, 2010
|“When patients feel they might be having an adverse drug effect, doctors will very often dismiss their concerns. . . . Physicians seem to commonly dismiss the possibility of a connection . . . even for the best-reported adverse effects of the most widely prescribed class of drugs.”
Anne Harding, “Docs Often Write Off Patient Side Effect Concerns,” Reuters Health, 28 August 2007.