Rehabilitating Health Charities

Nortin HadlerFall is when I attend to charitable contributions. It is the season for writing all those checks in a timely fashion so that I’ll receive the paperwork needed to garner tax credits. My wife and I want to do what we can to soften the hardships of those whose ability to do for themselves is compromised. It is a moral obligation, explicit in the Old Testament: The giving of charity is a duty for the advantaged and the receiving of charity a right, even an obligation according to Maimonides, of the needy. Alms-giving is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Pope Francis embodies the Christian tradition.

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An Error about Mistakes

Paul Levy 1There are few neurologists I admire more than Martin Samuels, chief of service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.  So it truly pains me to see him engaging in a convoluted approach to the issue of mistakes.  Read the whole thing and then come back and see what you think about the excerpts I’ve chosen:

“The current medical culture is obsessed with perfect replication and avoidance of error. This stemmed from the 1999 alarmist report of the National Academy of Medicine, entitled “To Err is Human,” in which the absurd conclusion was propagated that more patients died from medical errors than from breast cancer, heart disease and stroke combined; now updated by The National Academy of Medicine’s (formerly the IOM) new white paper on the epidemic of diagnostic error.”

No, the obsession, if there is an obsession, is not about perfect replication and avoidance of error.  The focus is on determining the causes of preventable harm and applying the scientific method to design experiments to obviate the causes.  The plan is, to the extent practicable, implement strategies to help avoid such harm.

[T]here is actually no convincing evidence that studying these mistakes and using various contrivances to focus on them, reduces their frequency whatsoever.

Yes, there is convincing evidence (from Peter Pronovost’s work on central line protocols, for example) that the frequency of errors that lead to preventable harm can be dramatically, and sustainably, reduced.

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Something Completely Different

The Endless Page of Scroll Is Dead .. If you’re an observant reader you may have noticed that things are looking a little different around here. That’s because we’ve “upgraded” the site to a new version of WordPress (WordPress 4.2), a new theme, a responsive new layout and made a lots of other changes that will be appearing in your browser in the near future.

The big thing: from now on you’ll need to be a registered user to comment. The good news is that registering is insanely, mindbogglingly easy.* Click on the register link at the top of the page and give us a user name and a working e-mail.

You’ll be able to join in the online discussion on the site, submit blog posts to the editors for consideration, win cool stuff like tickets to live events in your area, get invites to exclusive THCB meet ups and networking events, send our editors press releases and announcements (if that’s your thing) and do other really fun and productive things that we haven’t thought of yet.

* On the other hand, this is the Internet and stuff breaks for mysterious reasons nobody really understands. If you have trouble registering, email us. We’ll set you up.

And needless to say: if nothing shows up, check your spam filter.


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