Are most emergency room visits really unnecessary? – By Zachary F. Meisel and Jesse M. Pines – Slate Magazine

Much of the ongoing health care reform debate has focused on unnecessary health care expenses—specifically, medical bills that rack up without demonstrably improving peoples' health. According to Peter Orszag, the director of the federal Office of Management and Budget, about $700 billion, or 5 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, is wasted on unnecessary care, such as extra costs related to medical errors, defensive medicine, and just plain fraud. At the center of this discussion are “unnecessary” ER visits for minor conditions—colds, headaches, and feverish babies—that could be handled more cheaply in doctors' offices. If we could only convince patients to take their stubbed toes to urgent-care clinics or primary-care offices instead of ERs, the thinking goes, we could save a load and help fix this whole health care fiasco.

But there are a few problems with this logic. …

via Are most emergency room visits really unnecessary? – By Zachary F. Meisel and Jesse M. Pines – Slate Magazine.

It’s a well-written, short article.

He makes some good points, and (being an EM doc) I happen to agree with most, specifically that a lot of money is spent in medicine on procedures of uncertain (at best) benefit.

The fix is probably correct, too, though I don’t see Americans jumping on changing their sedentary, easy lifestyles.  (That includes me).

Health Care Law Blog: AHLA Connections: Legal Implications of Health Care Social Media

The current issue of the American Health Lawyers Association's Connections magazine features an article I co-authored with fellow AHLA health lawyer, Jody Joiner, on the impact of social media use in health care.

The article, Risky Business: Treating Tweeting the Symptoms of Social Media (PDF version), is featured in the March 2010 issue of AHLA Connections (Vol.14, No. 3, March 2010), a health lawyer magazine for the health and life sciences law community.

via Health Care Law Blog: AHLA Connections: Legal Implications of Health Care Social Media.

Nice overview of the concerns health care lawyers have about social media, twitter, blogs, etc.  Note that while pointing out the difficulties, at the end several common-sense answers are given,  none of which involve suppressing speech.

For which they’re to be commended: waaaay too often in medicine the reflex response to any complex problem in ‘no’ or ‘you can’t do that’, whether that response is the right answer or not.

Worth your time to read.

Disclosure: I met Mr. Coffield at BlogWorld in 2009.  He was a panelist in one panel, and could have had an entire day just by himself: that smart, and that good at explaining complex ideas.

I have a confession: I’ve been risking my life

Yes, still driving a Prius.

I do buy that accelerator pedals can be mechanically jammed by a floor mat (though there’s clips on my car to hold it in place), but this unintended acceleration ‘panic’ is just that.  (If for no other reason that there’s now a flurry of cases of this, and none before it was the freak-out du jour).

Sorry, I do intend to keep risking my life by driving a Prius.  If I die in an unintended acceleration incident in it, I’ll refund your yearly viewing fee.

funny graphs and charts
see more Funny Graphs

Update: I couldn’t find this link last night, but here’s Popular Mechanics explaining why the ABC ‘news’ story on unintended acceleration requires a lot of kludging of electronics in a very particular way.

Also from PM: things to do if you do have a Sudden Acceleration incident.