Avoid the emergency room
Fridays, weekends and holidays are always bad times to get a doctor’s appointment, and many people end up in an emergency department. Which costs a lot of money, even for those with health insurance.
What can you do to decrease your chances of needing emergency care or other expensive healthcare over the holidays?
An emergency physician recently posted some good tips on the healthcare blog KevinMD, and I’ve included a few of my own.
- Refill your prescription medications before the holidays.
- Participate in winter activities, such as skiing or ice skating, safely. Use recommended safety equipment.
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An ambulance ride is often a hidden (and costly) expense
Kaiser Health News just published an article about patients being stuck with outrageously high bills for ambulance rides.
One patient got a $3,660 bill for a 4-mile ride. Another was charged $8,460 for a trip from one hospital that could not handle his case to another that could.
Several years ago when my husband ended up in an emergency room (long story—read my About page), he needed to be transferred to another hospital that was about half a mile away.
The ambulance ride for that short trip cost close to … Continue reading
Cutting the waste
I’ve posted several times about the Choosing Wisely campaign.
Developed by Consumer Reports and the American Board of Internal Medicine, Choosing Wisely hopes to educate both physicians and patients, and cut back or eliminate unnecessary medical tests, procedures and treatments.
Over-testing and over-treatment are estimated to cost about $200 billion every year. I think that’s a conservative figure, as the financial—not to mention emotional—consequences of too much medicine can be difficult to quantify.
Bringing about change in our behemoth, for-profit healthcare system is a daunting task, and I’m always happy to see signs that it’s catching … Continue reading
How rudeness affects your healthcare
I just read an article in the New York Times by Perri Klass, MD: Rude Doctors, Rude Nurses, Rude Patients.
Rudeness all around!
Dr. Klass, a pediatrician, refers to a recent study published in a pediatric medical journal. The study looked at how rude or disparaging comments (by an actor playing the part of an infant’s mother) affect the performance of doctors and nurses.
The study’s conclusion?
Rudeness has robust, deleterious effects on the performance of medical teams. Moreover, exposure to rudeness debilitated the very collaborative mechanisms recognized as essential for patient care and
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“An American Sickness”
I love Elisabeth Rosenthal’s work.
She’s a medical journalist (an MD, but no longer practicing) who wrote a brilliant series of articles on the high cost of healthcare for the New York Times a few years ago.
Now she has a book on the same topic. Because, of course, our healthcare system with its punishing costs for services, drugs and insurance has not improved. If anything, it’s worse.
As a physician, Dr. Rosenthal has experienced first hand the perverse incentives—illness being more profitable than health, after all—and lack of price transparency in our healthcare system. Her book … Continue reading
A hospital puts profits over patient safety
First do no harm.
That’s part of every medical school graduate’s oath. It should be the motto of anyone working in healthcare.
But I just read a disheartening piece of investigative journalism in my local newspaper, the Seattle Times, about a hospital where I trained, worked, and received care. The story highlights how the perverse financial incentives in healthcare (do more, get paid more) undermine patient care and safety.
…the aggressive pursuit of more patients, more surgeries and more dollars has undermined Providence’s values — rooted in the nonprofit’s founding as a
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I just finished reading a really gripping and emotional story—Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by journalist Susannah Cahalan. (Soon to be a movie!)
As a twenty-something cub reporter in New York, Ms. Cahalan began experiencing strange, seemingly unconnected symptoms, such as forgetfulness, paranoia and the sensation that bugs were crawling on one side of her body.
The details of her weeks’ long medical journey—which she had to piece together from medical records, her parents’ journals, and the recollections of friends, doctors and nurses because she couldn’t remember most of it—are a pretty frightening look at today’s fragmented … Continue reading
Healthcare Not Fair is a satirical YouTube video series created by a real-life physician, Dr. Waqas Khan, to highlight problems within our broken healthcare system.
Their latest video takes a stab at electronic health records, EHR—or, as they call it, Electronic Hell Records!
Other videos by Healthcare Not Fair:
I just saw my primary care physician a few weeks ago, and I can relate to the fictional patient’s experience in the video. Receptionists really do keep their eyes glued to their computer screens!
My physician isn’t that bad, … Continue reading
An error of omission
A few weeks ago there was a lot of news about how medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the US, behind heart disease and cancer.
A medical error is defined as “an unintended act (either of omission or commission) or one that does not achieve its intended outcome.”
And now a Philadelphia paper is highlighting one very common mistake: when you and/or your doctor are not informed about a serious finding on a medical test.
The article explains that a well-known local musician (which is why this story is popular on … Continue reading
Hospital safety and medical mistakes
A friend forwarded an email to me. It was from a retirement blog he subscribes to, and this particular post was about what the writer, a doctor as well as a blogger, considers “The deadliest place you’re likely to visit this year…”
He’s talking about hospitals. And he’s not being overly dramatic, either.
He knows what many of us in health care know: hospitals can be dangerous to your health. One of my best friends is a physician. We have a pact that if either one of us has to go into the hospital, the … Continue reading