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Monday, July 26, 2004

Should I Laugh or Cry?
 
An earlier posting made reference to some adverse publicity incurred recently by the Emergency Room of South Shore Hospital in suburban Boston.  Prominent was the story of the lady whose appendix burst during her six-hour wait for care.

Whether for that or some other reason, the Hospital has of late embarked on an aggressive public relations campaign, part of which takes the form of open letters from senior doctors.  A recent one was on the subject of patient safety and signed by Dr. Marvin Lipschutz, Senior Vice President, Clinical Affairs.  It appeared in the July 18, 2004 edition of the Sunday Boston Globe and took up about 2/3 of a page.

To summarize, Dr. Lipschutz claimed that the hospital guarded patient safety by:

Having only well qualified doctors on its staff.
Having physicians in key specialties on site 24/7.
Maintaining a staff of 1,150 well-qualified nurses.
Partnering with leading academic medical centers.
Standardizing care and minimizing variations.
Participating in national programs of tracking best practices.
Fostering teamwork among caregivers.
Making use of modern technology.

Those who follow such things will recognize that standardizing care and minimizing variations (which got two sentences in the middle of the piece and shared a paragraph with tracking best practices) were the only measures that directly addressed the safety issue in its contemporary manifestation.  They will also be aware that the health care delivery system has been very slow to implement them.

So I don’t know whether I should be sad because they got so little attention, or happy because they were mentioned at all.


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