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QUALITY: Betsy Lehman redux, patient safety crisis continues

I was gobsmacked when I heard this on the local news today. A patient at San Mateo Medical Center (San Mateo is the small county immediately south of San Francisco and north of Silicon Valley/San Jose) died after being given 10 times the correct chemotherapy dose. We all know that medical errors are a problem that still exists, but this error was exactly the same as that which killed Betsy Lehman, the health columnist of the Boston Globe at Dana Farber cancer center in 1994. Betsy’s death was part of the groundswell that ended up 5 years later in the IOM “to Err is Human” report.

Nearly five years after the report and ten years after the tragedy in Boston, it’s clear that this is still a frequent occurrence. San Mateo Medical Center will hold an enquiry, but it’s almost certain that a miscommunication between the nursing, medical and pharmacy staff, without adequate process or technology back-up systems, is to blame. And there’s been plenty of time for the health care system to call attention to that, but as Michael Millenson says it’s mostly been silence.

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Anthony Sassone
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(WHH) Blasts of Dry Air Eradicate Lice Parents around the world breathed a sigh of relief when the cure for lice was finally reported by medical researchers. According to “Pediatrics” and other reliable medical journals the method proven most effective is to blast the hair from the roots up with dry air. The method is similar to common hair dryers, only more air and less heat. About a half hour of dry air dessicates the lice and continued bi-weekly sessions keeps hair free of lice, without chemicals, pain or tears. A study outlining dry-air blasting was published in the November… Read more »

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A health journalist takes on lice issues and gets them right. Happens way too infrequently so this is a news item to keep. Here’s link and a few paragraphs from it. http://healthnewsdigest.com/news/article_4723.shtml Bear in mind that head lice are an annoyance, not a public health crisis. They rarely cause direct harm, and are not known to transmit infectious agents from person-to-person. However, since the head lice is closely related to Pediculus humanus humanus, the body louse, which does transmit such diseases as typhus, it is wise not to ignore the pathogenic possibilities of head lice. According to the Harvard School… Read more »