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Ariella Brown

Analytics Startup Prescribes Fix for RX Errors

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Ariella
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Re: Oops, and oops again
Ariella   8/22/2014 10:27:31 AM
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@Broadway sort of like the "suggested retail price" stores put on only to show how their prices are so much lower? Or like the "regular" price that the stores offer 50% off? The thing is that even though the doctors know the insurance won't pay those amounts, they can and do charge individual patients that much. 

Broadway
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Re: Oops, and oops again
Broadway   8/21/2014 11:11:35 PM
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@Ariella, those bills where they tell you what the "price" was and what the insurance paid out are complete fabrications ... part of the opaque hoax that has been healthcare costs for a long time. Insurers and providers negotiate price well in advance. That's how healthcare prices are decided --- in a barter between big insurers and doctors. 

Ariella
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Re: Oops, and oops again
Ariella   8/21/2014 9:00:56 AM
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@SaneIT I agree. From both a moral and utilitiarian point of view, it makes sense to invest in a system that is proven to reduce preventable deaths. You can throw billions of dollars into researching a disease and make no discernable dent in the death rate. That is not to say it shouldn't be done, but clearly something like this gets you guaranteed results for saving lives. 

SaneIT
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Re: Oops, and oops again
SaneIT   8/21/2014 7:10:58 AM
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This is a very good point and I totally agree.  Not to minimize any disease or condition but if we can knock out one of the largest killers by improving the system why would we not put money and effort into that at a rate much greater than conditions that affect a relatively small number of people.  I've heard jokes that a cure for baldness will always be highly funded because there are so many people out there who want a cure, why can't we get that kind of backing for fixing a flawed system that results in significant numbers or deaths every year?

Ariella
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Re: Oops, and oops again
Ariella   8/20/2014 3:14:50 PM
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@PC perhaps, but I'm not certain getting the exact figures will necessarily help much. What if the prescription errors are not fatal -- just foolish and unhelpful -- like fertility pills given to a boy of 5 or contraceptive pills given to a man?  Even if they don't die, they're still not getting the right medication, and so may not get the treatment they need. And we're not talking about investing millions of dollars per person or even requiring people to take shots like we do for immunications against harmful diseases. It's a pretty easy safeguard on preventable errors that could be deadly. 

PredictableChaos
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Re: Oops, and oops again
PredictableChaos   8/20/2014 2:45:38 PM
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How many deaths does it take to make it important?

It's an emotional question and the answer is simple: "One is too many". If it's my father or my grandmother, that one death - due to a mistake in the medical system - is an heartbreak and a tragedy.

As a society, we must have a more data-driven approach. So it does make a difference if the true number is 200,000 or 2,000.  I realize we don't always allocate resources in direct proportion to causes of death, and that's okay too. But we should at least seek real data about how prevelent these issues are.

Ariella
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Re: Oops, and oops again
Ariella   8/20/2014 11:17:11 AM
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@PC I don't know. How many deaths does it take to make it important? If it's someone you care about, all it takes is one, doesn't it? With all the attention thrown on ALS with the ice bucket challenge, I took a look at the stats here: http://www.alsa.org/about-als/facts-you-should-know.html  Based on these numbers, you may say ALS doesn't deserve the attention because only about 30,000 American have the disease. We're talking small fractions of a percentage point for the whole population. And just working on finding a cure will take billions of dollars. Here we have technology that can save a substantial number of lives -- likely at least 30,000 each year -- just by making an investment that I'd venture to say hospitals can afford, especially if their own insurance rates drop as a result. 

PredictableChaos
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Re: Oops, and oops again
PredictableChaos   8/20/2014 11:07:00 AM
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Plus the report includes prescription errors, which may happen at the pharmacy. In those cases, the coroner may not be working in a forensic role, so may not even be aware that the cause was a medical error.

Bottom line - I believe it's a real issue, but the numbers seem a little too fuzzy.

Sometimes an issue is so important to the people investigating it that they (maybe even unconsciously) look at every bit of data to see how it can be used to make the issue important to the rest of us.

Ariella
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Re: Oops, and oops again
Ariella   8/20/2014 10:48:22 AM
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@PC sure, and there really may not be the resources to go over each thing in many of hospitals, which is how technology like this can prove helpful. Without an alert system, hospitals can brush off the deaths by sayibng,  people who check in usually have something very seriously wrong with them. The odds are against them to begin with, so you can't assume we're at fault if they die. There is some truth to that, but we have to still watch out for the preventable deaths that do occur far too often.

PredictableChaos
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Re: Oops, and oops again
PredictableChaos   8/20/2014 10:39:02 AM
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@Ariella

Understand you're the messanger. And the report may well be true - I've always felt that hospitals were a good place to avoid. At a minimum, you need a member of your family around to act as a patient advocate. Without that, in my experience, you risk being ignored or mistreated in other ways.

And certainly the hospital, which will be compared against other hospitals, has little incentive to put "our mistake" as a cause of death.

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