Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from September, 2010

what do I mean by cost effective medicine?

It is not uncommon for comments about cost effective medicine to be met with mistrust by patients.  Saving money is fine, but not if it means that when I, personally, as a patient, am in pain or sick, will have to wait for relief, get suboptimal care or be denied a life saving treatment. I, as a doctor, am also a patient, and can fully sympathize with this opinion.

When I envision cost effective medicine, I mainly see an absence of cost ineffective medical interventions.  Without these big yellow lemons of common medical practice, there will be more time and money to provide care that is meaningful. So what are the top shelf worst and most cost ineffective practices? It would be beautiful to see a well funded study of this question, but I haven't seen such a thing, so I will dip down into my well of 25 years of medical experience and pick out several of the things that I, as a patient, don't want to happen to me. These are things that are costly, common and have very little va…

JAMA commentary article suggests teaching medical students to be cost conscious

This week's JAMA presents an article by Samuel Sessions MD of Harbor UCLA Medical Center and Allan Detsky of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto suggesting that teaching medical students to be aware of cost when learning to treat patients.  They recognize that physicians have an ethical responsibility to pay attention to the fact that medical expenditures are increasingly threatening America's economic viability and point out that training in cost-effectiveness needs to start in medical school.

A few years ago I let my membership in the American Medical Association lapse since I felt that the did not represent me as a primary care physician and a socially responsible human being. During the debate around health care reform, they have not demonstrated leadership in helping American medicine move in the direction that will result in reducing costs and improving access for people who need medical care. They have, however, published articles in the Journal of the AMA by many thoughtfu…

Treatment of Sleep Apnea--the cost of a good night sleep

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), that is snoring with episodes of not breathing, probably affects more than 1 in 20 people.  It is most common in older men, though certainly not limited to this group. Risk factors include obesity, large neck size and limited room for air passage in the back of the throat.  When a person has OSA he or she may wake up hundreds of times a night as breathing is stopped by floppy tissue in the airway and the drive to breathe arouses them enough to take an effective breath.  This loud irregular snoring and snorting also interrupts the sleep of a partner in the same bed. People with sleep apnea have a lousy quality of sleep, rarely reaching the lower sleep levels and are less productive during the day than healthy sleepers and often fall asleep in meetings, movies and while driving. Years ago we discovered that application of a mask to the nose which applies a constant air pressure to the breathing passages can improve nighttime breathing and nighttime sleep. …