Monday, December 10, 2007

What Ails Healthcare

Anyone who wants to understand what ails our system of healthcare ought to get hold of a copy of the December 10, 2007 issue of the New Yorker magazine and read the article by surgeon Atul Gawande titled The Checklist.

In summary, the article is about how the use of checklists saves lives (and money) in hospital Intensive Care Units.

It is also about Dr. Peter Pronovost, a intensive care physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and his pioneering work in the development and use of checklists.

The Checklist is a well written article about an interesting subject. But what brought me up short was the following that appeared near the end of the article:

β€œI [Gawande] asked him [Pronovost] how long it would be before the average doctor or nurse is as apt to have a checklist in hand as a stethoscope (which, unlike checklists, has never been proved to make a difference to patient care). β€˜At the current rate, it will never happen,’ he said.”

When we fix that, we will have gone a long way towards reforming health care.

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