Thursday, June 03, 2010

Before we revolutionize medicine via spending hundreds of billions on IT, perhaps we should first fix this problem

Before we revolutionize medicine via spending hundreds of billions on IT, maybe we should first fix a far more tractable problem.

From Health Beat and Maggie Mahar:

A New Survey Reveals What Most Hospitals Patients Don’t Know About the Residents Who Care For Them-- Part 1

Summary: Most hospital patients have no idea that the resident treating them could be coming to the end of a 30-hour shift. If he is exhausted, the resident’s judgment may be impaired. Yesterday, the union that represents some 13,000 residents and interns nationwide (CIRSEIU), the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) Public Citizen, the consumer advocacy organization based in Washington DC, , as well as sleep scientists at the Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep, announced the results of survey published in BMC Medicine, revealing how little the public knows about residents’ hours.

Sleep deprivation is likely to lead to errors; residents themselves acknowledge that lack of sleep has caused them to make mistakes that harm, and sometimes even kill patients. Exhaustion also affects how they feel about their patients.In 2008, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended capping shifts at 16 hours, saying that longer shifts are unsafe for patients and residents themselves. The Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the group that oversees the training of physicians in the U.S currently allows resident physicians to work for 30 consecutive hours up to twice per week. The ACGME has been reviewing the IOM recommendations and is expected to announce its decision later this month.

The problem: residents represent cheap labor. Some say that the ACGME faces an inherent conflict of interest because its board is dominated by the trade associations for hospitals, doctors and medical schools that benefit from the residents’ long hours.

Read the entire post at the link above.

There are fundamental social flaws in healthcare for which IT is most definitely not the solution. However, some of those hundreds of billions of dollars earmarked for IT might be better spent on additional clinical staff, so Residents can get a decent night's sleep.

-- SS


Anonymous said...

Cheap, tired, know it all labor combined with flawed IT systems with defective interfaces shouts out to the patients: bring a body guard.

best health supplements said...

Hospital patients really do not know the shifts of the residents. But the time of the shift should not be an issue. Though lack of sleep really influences one's judgment, they should make it a point not to be hindered by it. Ideally, they should think of their patients seriously and considerably.

MedInformaticsMD said...

Best Heath Supplements leaves a link to some commercial site with the asinine statement that "Though lack of sleep really influences one's judgment, they [medical residents] should make it a point not to be hindered by it."

I would normally delete the commercial link and comment, but I am leaving it as an example of a company best not to do business with and the dopes running them.