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Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Amazing Tolerance for Non-Management in Health Care

Here we are, more than a decade into the twenty-first century and much farther than that into the information age and our system of delivering health care still can’t keep reliable track of what medications a patient is taking.

According to an article that appeared in the March 11, 2011 issue of H&HN, the journal of the American Hospital Association, “Unintended changes in medications occur in one-third of all patients transferred between hospital departments and in 14percent of patients at hospital discharge, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.”

In any other line of work, such a record would be considered disgraceful and bordering on the scandalous. Yet with all the palavering and political maneuvering over health care reform, we hear nothing about the absence of management. To maintain consistency in a patient’s medication program may involve some operational complexity, but it is a simple thing to think about. Whoever in the health care delivery system is involved in prescribing a medication ought to know with almost 100percent certainty what drugs the patient is currently taking. With all the bright systems analysts and designers of computer applications that there are around, it ought to be possible in relatively short order to figure out ways of achieving such a goal.

But, of course, that would come to nothing unless someone was in a position to implement them. In other words, it would require some management.

Perhaps in due course, we will reach the point of expecting as much, even insisting on it. But, amazingly, we are not there yet.

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