Wednesday, December 01, 2004

An Ounce of Prevention at Last

Some may remember my outstanding request to be notified whenever an article in the media about malpractice mentioned prevention as one of the solutions.

Well, I’m pleased to say that it has happened, and in the health care literature at that. Those who read as far back as page 56 in the November, 2004 issue of Hospitals and Health Networks will discover a short article by freelance writer Dave Carpenter titled Safe Deliveries.

Carpenter points out that Obstetrics has long been among the riskiest of the medical specialties when it comes to malpractice claims. The birth event presents a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong, with disastrous consequences. The cost of malpractice insurance for Obstetricians has gone up accordingly to the extent of driving more than a few of them out of Obstetrical practice altogether.

Carpenter’s article described a Defense Department project that is transferring safety techniques from airplane cockpits to hospital delivery rooms. Dr. Benjamin Sachs, who has helped to coordinate that effort, reports that applying the techniques in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston has reduced adverse obstetrical outcomes in that institution by 53 per cent over a four year period. Efforts under way at a number of other hospitals were also reported on.

The key seems to be to adopt a team approach. Obstetrics seems to be learning that the old “I’m in charge, just do as I say” method, long ago abandoned almost everywhere else, doesn’t work in medicine either.

It’s been too long coming, but better late than never.

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