Defensive Medicine Isn’t Safe Medicine

Recently, Gallup published the results of a study showing that a whopping 26% of our healthcare costs cover “defensive medicine.”  If you’re not familiar with this term, think about the times your doctor has ordered a test for you that seems a little on the “iffy” side – you’re not quite sure what the test is for, or you’ve been through it before, and it seems like a big waste of time to you. But you dutifully follow doctor’s orders because, after all, insurance is paying for it anyway. On the other hand, maybe you’ve insisted on a test that gave your doctor cause for pause. You didn’t want to go to the effort of getting a second opinion so you insisted – and your doctor relented, and then off you went… for a CAT scan, MRI, stress test, or blood work. In these scenarios, the undercurrent driving tests and procedures is fear – fear in your doctor’s heart that if any possible stone is left unturned, you, dear patient, will see your doctor in court. You must be wondering why this concerns us at campaignZERØ. What does defensive medicine have to do with patient safety? Here’s our take on the connection — When doctors feel defensive, they don’t have the luxury to feel introspective too. It’s a common-sense fact — the two emotions simply don’t coexist peacefully in a single caring soul. If doctors can’t be introspective, they can’t get to “sorry” when they make an error (as all humans do sometimes – despite very best efforts and intentions.) If doctors can’t get to sorry, they can’t learn...

Founder’s Note to Advocates

    When it comes to health care – especially in a crisis — conventional wisdom tells us,  “Get a second opinion and take someone with you.” So we often find ourselves accompanying our spouse or parents to doctors’ appointments and through hospital stays to be a second pair of eyes and ears, absorbing critical information it is so hard for patients themselves to process in a worried state.   This convention, this way to help those we love most, is great advice and we take a large measure of comfort in following it.  But think about it …   …How are any of us really trained to be effective health care advocates, an effective “Someone” for those we love?     Sure, we all know how to hold a hand, wipe a brow and occasionally fetch a nurse. My guess is that many of us also rely heavily on quick, prayerful barters with God.  (Please make her well and I will never skip Sunday mass to play golf again.) But in our hearts we know that if the chips are down, our role as a Someone is to be our loved one’s lifeline to the best possible care—someone who may even make the difference between life and death. A few years ago, our family of six siblings made a pact to be advocates for my father as he recovered from a hard-won lung transplant at a major academic hospital.  Grateful for our dad’s second chance after his diagnosis of incurable idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, our entire family gladly turned our lives upside down to take turns at Dad’s bedside...