Sunday, July 21, 2002

JG writes:

While physicians and public health personnel have been squawking about "unintentional injuries" (newspeak for "accidents") from cars, bikes, and lawn mowers and how, in most instances, they're preventable/avoidable (often through the micromanagement of individuals' lives), it turns out an even greater--much, much greater--threat comes from them, their associates (health care workers), and their environs, particularly hospitals. The Chicago Tribune is doing a three-part series on the problem (Sunday: Thousands of hospital patients die from avoidable infections they picked up while under care; Monday: Following simple procedures could have helped save the lives of thousands of sick children; Tuesday: Dangerous antibiotic-resistant germs are spreading from hospitals to the community at large). Today's installment, "Infection epidemic carves deadly path: Poor hygiene, overwhelmed workers contribute to thousands of deaths," can be found here.

If the word gets out, physicians may regret that they banned the word "accident"!

The New England Journal of Medicine has relaxed its policy on conflicts of interest. It seems that it couldn't get review articles except from authors with financial conflicts.

Meanwhile, the NY Times reports:

Some medical specialties and geographical areas are suffering from a glut of doctors and hospitals, these experts say. Supply seems to drive demand. More hospitals in an area mean many more days spent in hospitals with no discernible improvements in health. More medical specialists mean many more specialist visits and procedures. ...

"When all is said and done," Dr. Berwick said, "the people who have been most serious about it rarely think we are underresourced. The evidence to my mind is so strong. More is not better, and it often is very, very much worse."

Physicians may regret lobbying for laws like mandatory helmet laws. They take the view that accidents are preventable, and laws are needed to prevent them. So what about accidental deaths by physicians and hospitals?

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