Monday, August 29, 2016

Hsieh Forbes Column: How Government Quality Guidelines Hurt Transplant Patients

My latest Forbes piece is now up: "How Government Quality Guidelines Hurt Transplant Patients".

I discuss how federal government "quality guidelines" created perverse incentives to deny medical care to the sickest patients.

In particular, many transplant centers started dropping the sickest patients from their transplant waiting lists in order to keep their success rates up. Plus many hospitals rejected less-than-perfect organs out of fear of harming their federal government score cards.

As transplant surgeon Dr. Adel Bozorgzadeh said:
“If you have young guy who has a 100 percent chance of dying, but only a 30 percent chance of dying with a transplant, you would say, ‘What the hell, give the guy a chance,’” even if the operation might be risky, he said. “But if I make an argument like that, I will be under pressure from all these other stakeholders who would penalize me.”
The federal guidelines created a conflict of interest for hospitals, caught between their government paymasters and the patients they were supposed to care for.

For more details, read the full text of "How Government Quality Guidelines Hurt Transplant Patients".

(Related piece: "Doctor ‘Report Cards’ May Be Hazardous To Your Health.")




Tuesday, August 2, 2016

FIRM Website Problems Fixed

My  deepest apologies for the recent downtime of the FIRM website. And many thanks to my ex-wife Diana Brickell for fixing the DNS issues! I should be back in action soon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hsieh Forbes Column: Why I Don't Trust Government-Backed 'Gun Violence' Research

My latest Forbes piece is now out: "Why I Don't Trust Government-Backed 'Gun Violence' Research".

I discuss the anti-gun bias at the federal government Centers For Disease Control (CDC) and why we should be suspicious of calls for more CDC-backed research into "gun violence".


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

When Everything Is "Critical", Then Nothing Is

Another consequence of poorly designed electronic medical records (EMRs) is "alert fatigue":
Electronic health records increasingly include automated alert systems pegged to patients’ health information. One alert might signal that a drug being prescribed could interact badly with other medications. Another might advise the pharmacist about a patient’s drug allergy. But they could also simply note each time that a patient is prescribed painkillers — useful to detect addiction but irrelevant if, say, someone had a major surgery and is expected to need such meds. Or they may highlight a potential health consequence relevant to an elderly woman, although the patient at hand is a 20-something man.

The number of these pop-up messages has become unmanageable, doctors and IT experts say, reflecting what many experts call excessive caution, and now they are overwhelming practitioners.
Clinicians ignore safety notifications between 49 percent and 96 percent of the time, said Shobha Phansalkar, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“When providers are bombarded with warnings, they will predictably miss important things,” said David Bates, senior vice president at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
This can have real-life consequences:
In one instance at Children’s [Hospital of Philadelphia], doctors ignored relevant information about how a patient might respond to a drug, Shelov said, because it appeared alongside heaps of other superfluous notifications — warnings, for instance, about drugs that posed minimal risk of interfering with each other. Consequently, the patient received medication that induced a potentially lethal reaction.

The hospital caught the mistake in time, but the incident spurred a series of changes. A team of pharmacists, doctors and other clinicians have sorted through what triggered alerts in their system, turning off the ones they decided weren’t actually relevant or necessary. That has helped. But it’s still an ongoing battle, Shelov said. “It’s a little bit of trying to turn off the firehose.”
When everything is "critical", then nothing is.



Monday, June 13, 2016

Doctors And Handwashing

"What is doctors' compliance rate for hand hygiene procedures?"

As Tyler Cowen says:
According to a new study, when they know they are being watched it is 57 percent.

When they don’t know they are being watched, it is 22 percent.

What I find shocking is not the difference, which fits readily into the economic way of thinking.  It is that direct observation of doctors still does not get the rate above 57 percent.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hsieh Forbes Column: Three Tales of Health, Technology, and Freedom

My latest Forbes piece is now out: "Three Tales of Health, Technology, and Freedom".

I highlight recent stories on the "artificial pancreas", research into Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and patients ordering their own blood tests.

When people pursue important health goals, often the government helps best by getting out of the way.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Dad Of The Year

From the Wall Street Journal, "Tech-Savvy Families Use Home-Built Diabetes Device":
Third-grader Andrew Calabrese carries his backpack everywhere he goes at his San Diego-area school. His backpack isn’t just filled with books, it is carrying his robotic pancreas.

The device, long considered the Holy Grail of Type 1 diabetes technology, wasn’t constructed by a medical-device company. It hasn’t been approved by regulators.

It was put together by his father...
Unfortunately, the FDA isn't particularly supportive of such grass-roots endeavors.