Floating Away Your Anxiety And Stress https://t.co/hdS7me3lkk
— NPR Health News (@NPRHealth) October 16, 2017
Nice article in STAT, a relatively new Boston Globe-affiliated publication devoted entirely to health care. Melissa Bailey reminds us that ‘candystripers’ used to sell cigarettes to patients to comfort them while hospitalized.
She goes on to point out 5 practices that will seem just as antiquated. Soon, we hope.
I think this is an excellent list. There are no doubt dozens more. (Why do we awaken people in the hospital so often?) What are your ideas for health care pet peeves you’d like to see abolished?
Recently the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved a device for market called “AspireAssist.”
The device is hooked up to an incision in your abdominal wall after each meal that allows you to drain 30% of your stomach contents directly into the toilet.
Harder to gain weight (and easier to lose it!) when you’re diverting a third of caloric intake from your body into the sewer system.
It works like a “G-tube” in reverse — the kind of tube that puts liquid calories INTO your stomach in the event you can’t swallow (i.e. you’ve had a stroke or some kind of oral surgical issue that won’t let you chew and swallow). Therefore it was deemed ‘safe enough’ because SO FAR it has a low complication rate.
But keep in mind to get FDA approval the manufacturers only had to show efficacy and safety in two small trials totaling less than 200 patients. This is a lower barrier to market than would occur if the new product were a medication. [Devices and medications are held to different approval standards at the FDA.]
As for whether AspireAssist is ‘ready for prime time,’ I share the healthy skepticism of my friends over at “Updates in Slow Medicine,” who wrote:
From the Slow Medicine perspective, removing food after eating directly from the stomach using an A-tube remains an experimental approach to weight loss, and we would only recommend an AspireAssist device to a patient of ours enrolled in an appropriate clinical trial.
With more clinical experience it’s possible this could be a solution for many folks struggling with obesity. But only when we know more.
When we talk about harm in the world of health care, we’re usually referring to patients and the facilities in which we provide care. These are the ‘typical’ things we hope to avoid, not only because they are bad outcomes, but because they now carry the specter of financial penalties when they occur:
But Gary Cohen of the advocacy coalition Health Care Without Harm takes a much broader view of the harms that health enterprises can cause. Founded in 1996, HCWH is now a multi-national coalition of health care enterprises, governmental and non-governmental agencies, and other advocacy groups.
Cohen and HCWH have had some amazing successes. In less than two decades, HCWH has been able to reduce the number of medical waste incinerators in the U.S from more than 5000 to fewer than 100. Why should we care? It turns out that burning medical waste pours tons of the harmful chemical dioxin into the environment.
Another example: The formerly ubiquitous mercury thermometer. They used to break all the time. Fun to play with the drops of mercury, but highly toxic. Neurotoxic, in fact. And when mercury gets in our water supply, the fatty fish we eat (salmon, swordfish, tuna, mackerel, even shark) slowly poison us — which is why pregnant women and children are advised to avoid eating fresh fish in more than minute quantities.
HCWH was able to make the case that there are technological alternatives to mercury thermometers — that work just as well and are much, much safer. And they’ve been successful. When’s the last time you saw or used a mercury thermometer?
For this tireless advocacy, which also includes making hospital food supplies safer and hospital buildings themselves green and super safe (think natural disasters), Cohen was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (think ‘genius grant’) last Fall.
You can hear an interview with Cohen here — give a listen and broaden your perspective on reducing harm in health care.