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Friday, November 2, 2018

Health care, disease care, or killing care?

Hugo Caicedo
Harvard Blogs
Originally published October 1, 2018

Traditional medical practice is rooted in advanced knowledge of diseases, their most appropriate treatment, and adequate proficiency in its applied practice. Notably, today, medical treatment does not typically occur until disease symptoms have manifested. While we now have ways to develop therapies that can halt the progression of some symptomatic diseases, symptomatic solutions are not meant to serve as a cure of disease but palliative treatment of late-stage chronic diseases.

The reactive approach in most medical interventions is magnified in that medicine is prone to errors. In November of 1999, the U.S. National Academy of Science, an organization representing the most highly regarded scientists and physician researchers in the U.S., published the report To Err is Human.

The manuscript noted that medical error was a leading cause of patient deaths killing up to 98,000 people in the U.S. every year. One hypothesis that came up was that patient data was being poorly collected, aggregated, and shared among different hospitals and even within the same health system. Health policies such the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) in 2009 and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, primarily focused on optimizing clinical and operational effectiveness through the use of health information technology and expansion of government insurance programs, respectively. However, they did not effectively address the issue of medical errors such as poor judgment, mistaken diagnoses, inadequately coordinated care, and incompetent skill that can directly result in patient harm and death.

The blog post is here.