Sunday, November 3, 2013
I "vote" for Patient's Safety
As election-day comes upon us, it is hard for me to choose who I want to vote for. Campaign promises come and go but my issue is patient’s safety and no one wants to take that up. This year, I approached the county administration to support the Designated Medication Manager (DMM). This would offer a tool for the general public to understand how they can help each other reduce medication errors, dependency and misuse of prescriptions, vitamins and herbs. I was told that that for the county to support a DMM it needs approval from the medical society. The medical society’s role is not to protect the public, it’s to protect the physicians (who protect the public). So, we can be sure Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano is not going to protect the public unless it’s approved by the special interest.
Tom Suozzi on the other hand was approached when he was in office too. We asked him to get involved in patient safety. That too never happened. As long as $1.00 of Nassau County funds is going to healthcare costs, safety must be part of the conversation.
A recent meeting hosted at C.W. Post campus of Long Island University about the future of healthcare on Long Island didn’t address patient safety. The conversation didn’t turn to safety until members of PULSE of NY, a community based patient safety organization brought it up privately and interviewed some of the panel members.
There is a tremendous cost to the economy that can be reduced. Are you tired of hearing that 98,000 people die each year from preventable medical errors? Well good, because the new number is 440,000.
Costs of medical errors in the United States of $19.5 billion during the year 2008 according to the report by The Economic Measurement of Medical Errors Sponsored by Society of Actuaries’ Health Section.
Imagine that with each death there is the loss of an employee, now someone new needs to be hired and trained. A patient who misses work and needs a temporary replacement because of a hospital acquired infection, a second surgery or a missed diagnosis. Life insurance policy payments stop but are now distributed to the patient’s family. A misdiagnosis is costly when tests must be redone.
Patient’s health can get worse and not better when there is simple communication problems. Patient’s who don’t understand what the doctor meant when he said “come back in two weeks” or a patient who doesn’t take his medication because he forgot, didn’t understand instructions or can’t afford the pills for his chronic condition.
Medical errors are not about blaming anyone. We need the public to know how they happen and how they can be avoided. Medication errors injure 1.5 million people a year creating huge healthcare costs. A Designated Medication Manager can help change those numbers but it’s not important enough this year I suppose.