Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Epi Vs Narcan
These past few weeks the high cost of Epinephrine (or EpiPens) has made the news. It’s not that new. In March a story came out in ModernHealthcare about the high cost of this life saving drug. Around the same time I was working with teens who sat at my dining room table and we talked about patient safety and being an Involved and Informed patient. A young man at 16 years old with nu allergies questioned why Narcan is free to the public and his EpiPen is so expensive.
We know that many more people will die from drug overdose than allergies but isn’t that the system once again using “measurement” to decide who lives and who dies? If I had serious allergies and in my financial situation I might be hoping that prayer could work just as well.
Then I realized that if the pharmaceutical companies make a lifesaving medication, people who die from overdosing can come back and buy more medications from the pharmaceutical companies – look who gets rich off this.
What we really need is to encourage Jiff and/or Skippy and/or Peter Pan to go into the business of making EpiPens so those people who are allergic to nuts can eat them.
Saturday, August 20, 2016
Why John Walsh is Important to Patient Safety
I admire John Walsh. You may know him as a television show host finding criminals, The Hunt and years ago he hosted America’s Most Wanted. Or you may know him as the dad of a murdered child. He is both. And, 35 years after his son’s murder he still calls himself the father of a murdered child. That’s who he is. No apology.
I met John Walsh years ago when I was a guest on his talk show. (You can see I haven’t changed a bit) I asked him what makes him an “expert” in what he does. He is not a police officer, detective, or crime fighter. He is a dad. He said he learned everything he could and worked hard letting people know what he knew.
I admire that in a person. He believes in something and all these years later he is fighting for what he believes in.
I wish patient safety had a little bit of that support. Imagine if all the law enforcement would say “Mr. Walsh we don’t need your help we can do this”? Instead he is welcome as a partner in fighting crime. Why then is it so difficult for the healthcare professionals and the foundations that help fund their programs to recognize that medical errors and injuries that happen at the bedside need the support of a community willing to help?
I’m not sure I would call myself an expert. But, through PULSE Center for Patient Safety Education & Advocacy (Formerly PULSE of NY) I do have close to 1,000 hours as a bedside advocate witnessing errors, breakdown in communication and misunderstandings that might cost a patient their life and many, many hours working with people after an injury of death of a loved one. My volunteering as a board member with TheNational Patient Safety Foundation and The Joint Commission – both for over 10 years each, I understand how these “mishaps” can be corrected and how, if they are not taken seriously it is similar to playing Russian Roulette with a patient’s life. Patients and the family who say something and are ignored, rarely have a place to take that information to have the system fixed.
If it is true that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in this country, and there is no reason to doubt this, everyone needs to get on the same page and work together to not fight crime – but fight the system of errors which is left to only the often overworked medical professionals to deal with on their own.