“Why Can’t Medicine Be Like Car Talk?”

Trisha Torrey sums it up niftily on her Patient Empowerment Blog at About.com.

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5 Responses to ““Why Can’t Medicine Be Like Car Talk?””

  1. This led to a Twitter discussion today on a new idea: let’s demystify what can be demystified, as Car Talk does. In fact let’s make a list of what is and isn’t complicated. The chat:

    Me: You’re absolutely right that Car Talk demystifies, as healthcare should.

    Trisha: perfect word, Dave: demystifies

    Tis true. But I haven’t used the word “demystify”. I like it, am going to adopt it and give you credit for applying it! thanks!

    Me: Well heck, that’s what YOU do all the time – demystify! It’s what your book does, too: “This ain’t that complicated, people”

    Re “demystify”: some topics, eg my cancer cells’ biology, is way deep. Others, eg look-alike vials & tubes, aren’t.

    [Look-alike vials was a reference to the near death of Dennis Quaid’s twins, who got a 1000x overdose of blood thinner due to such vials. Look-alike tubes was about this week’s NY Times piece on how look-alike tubes continue to harm and kill patients; importantly different tubes should look different, in the same way that diesel fuel nozzles are different from gasoline nozzles. Not complicated!]

    We could get some value from this – a “what’s mysterious, what’s not” table.

    It could be great fodder for the Journal of Participatory Medicine, too.

    And then we could chip away at the “Is Complicated” list.

    Man, this is brainstorm yum. Gotta capture this. @SusanCarr, you watching this thread? Big #patientsafety fodder.

    (Susan is editor of Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare magazine.)

  2. bev M.D. says:

    The lookalike packaging and soundalike drug names thing just drives me insane. It would be so ridiculously EASY to solve – simply don’t allow a new drug name to sound like an existing one (could be part of FDA approval process), and don’t allow stuff to be packaged identically or similarly, by federal fiat. (I don’t know the process well enough to know exactly how to do the latter but I’m sure a techie could do it in 5 seconds with a library of existing packaging.)

    Talk about patients dying needlessly, this may be close to the poster child example.

  3. Bev,

    The thing is, all this stuff about distinctive packaging and branding is absolutely routine in undergrad business courses. You DIE in retail if your product isn’t clearly different.

    The exception that proves our point is generics, e.g. “Wal-Phed,” the Walgreens generic for Sudafed. You make things look similar when you want people to NOT distinguish them.

    Presuming drugmakers and hospital admins have basic business competence, a case could be made that they’re aware of this and the related risks, and are doing it anyway. Is this therefore negligence?

    Hm.

  4. bev M.D. says:

    Dave, on the narrow issue that I addressed, I think the hospitals are blameless, as they do not name nor package the drugs/infusibles. My specialty was about as far from drugs as you can get, but I believe I am correct. As for the drugmakers, that is a legitimate question, but one wonders WHY they would subject themselves to obvious potential liability by making heparin bottles of vastly different dosages look alike, for instance.

    Making Walgreens’ generic look like a brand name’s SAME DRUG is a different issue, to me.

  5. Annie Stith (@Gr8fulAnnie) says:

    Hey, Dave!

    (Running behind on my reading. Arrgh! Do I read and learn for me, or take time to comment and hopefully help others, too?!?? Just kidding…)

    I like the things you find on the ‘net, especially this one. So many different things to bring up!

    I would LOVE to see salaried docs, including specialists at hospitals (like surgeons) IF AND ONLY IF they’re somehow on a pay for performance plan, with input from colleagues and patients as well as supervisors. (Not necessarily ins co’s.) Obviously, specialists would earn a higher salary.

    I would LOVE to hear a discussion between two docs about my Dx, treatment, etc., especially if it could be between a doc of conventional med and one of alt med. Then it could all be COORDINATED without risk of dangerous interactions. (Well, fewer, anyway.)

    In my instance, my docs DO explain things to me, because I nag them with questions until they do. (Actually, I’ve trained them. They talk to me in standard English, and in detail, from the start now.)

    Fortunately, both my main docs have senses of humor. I wouldn’t keep seeing them if they didn’t. And I really enjoy seeing them in person. One gives hugs, and the other just has this BEAMING smile when he sees me. (It also gets me out of the house, being housebound so often.)

    I think that’s all…

    Annie

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