Tag Archives: health care consumers

Modern Medicine

‘Good Old Days’ Of Medicine Are Best As Fond Memories: New Technologies Are Helping All Patients

It’s not unusual to occasionally hear people refer to the good old days when doctors made house calls, or they might wax nostalgic about TV’s Marcus Welby, M.D., whose main character came across as the perfect embodiment of medicine.

There’s no denying that the 1960s and ‘70s were simpler times in many ways, but for health care in particular, they weren’t necessarily better. Medicine has come a very long way over the past 40 years, and we’re all beneficiaries of numerous medical discoveries and innovations that have not only improved our health and well being, but just as importantly, have made us safer and more informed health care consumers. Marcus Welby notwithstanding, doctors and the hospitals that they work in are not perfect.  So adieu to Dr. Welby, but spare us from “House” (unless we need his expertise).

Patient safety was not a major topic in health care during the last century, but today it is a top priority for all health care providers, government agencies and payers. The complexity of technology and care have caused many entities to invest many millions of dollars in new technology, such as Electronic Medical Records (EMR), Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE), simulation training, remote ICU monitoring and other innovations to make hospitals as safe as possible for patients.

Even before the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported in 2001 that more than 770,000 people were injured or died each year in hospitals from Adverse Drug Events (ADEs), Banner Health was at the forefront of proving the benefits of an electronic ADE alert system. In 1998, a team of faculty from Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center conducted and published the results of the first-ever study to prospectively evaluate a computer support system with real-time intervention for reducing injury from a broad range of ADEs.

In those “early days” of the electronic record, phone calls and faxes to and from the laboratory, pharmacy and physician served as a way to catch issues before they occurred. Today, every Banner hospital in Arizona is equipped with an EMR that includes electronic alerts to help prevent ADEs from happening. Patients should feel assured that if they receive care in one Banner hospital and then go to another, their medical history with tests, as well as medications, will be easily accessible at every location. This is important, because the general public may not be aware of the number of drugs that have similar sounding names, such as Clonidine for high blood pressure or Klonopin for seizures; Celebrex for arthritis pain or Celexa for depression. If you’re at a Banner Hospital and a drug is ordered for you, an ALERT will pop up right at the nursing station and require immediate attention if it doesn’t match your medical condition or if it might cause a reaction with your other medications. At a point in the not too distant future, if it hasn’t already occurred, your physician’s office will be tied into a system that provides your medical record and safety features at all sites of care.

But, even with all of these innovations, patients should know that they have an important role and responsibility for ensuring their own safe care during a hospitalization. First and foremost, if at any time something doesn’t feel right, or if you’re unsure about something, SPEAK UP! You have the right to question anything. Also, proper hand hygiene is critical. Make sure that all caregivers and visitors, including your own family and friends, who come into your room wash their hands with soap and water or use antibacterial gel. Here are some other tips for ensuring your safe care:

  • Provide your complete and accurate health history information at the time of admission, including all allergies you might have
  • Know your medications and tell your care providers what you’re taking, including herbal and over-the-counter supplements, and how the drugs affect you.
  • Always confirm your identity — all hospital staff should check your wristband and ask your name before they draw blood, administer tests, give medicine or provide any treatments
  • Follow your health care instructions — never tamper with your IV pump, monitors or other devices. When you are ready to go home, get your health care instructions in writing and make sure you understand how to follow them. Again, ask questions.

The safest medical care occurs when everyone is working together as a team, including the patient, and utilizing all of the tools available to ensure the most successful outcome.

Voting Booth

Update: A Proposition Primer For Election Day – Tom’s Picks

Editor’s Note: With less than a week to go before Election Day, AZNow.Biz’s political columnist, Tom Milton, has revealed his recommendations on the 10 propositions on the ballot. As he says, “You’ll notice, I don’t like many of them.”

Election Day is almost here. If you are like me, you are probably already tired of the commercials, the phone calls and the mail.  Along with a sea of candidates on this ballot, we will also be asked to vote on a number of issues. There are 10 propositions on this November’s ballot. Understanding a proposition in itself can sometimes be tricky, but that is only half of the battle. The tougher part can be understanding what a “Yes” vote means as opposed to a “No” vote.  Here is a very short recap of the main points behind the 10 propositions.

I want to give special thanks to Stuart Goodman of Goodman Schwartz Public Affairs, who for the last few election cycles summarized this information so that it is easier to understand. I used his summary as my guide and added just a touch more information as well.

The first seven propositions are all items that the Legislature referred to the ballot.

Prop. 106 – Healthcare Freedom Act

Passing means that the state’s constitution would be amended to prohibit any law from forcing a person or business into having to participate in a specific health care system. It will allow a person to buy their health care from any provider without being fined or penalized.

Proponents (YES VOTE) say it will guarantee that health care consumers can make their own choices without being penalized.

Opponents (NO VOTE) argue it is just an effort to derail federal health care reform and will negatively impact the uninsured.

Tom’s Pick:

NO on Prop. 106
Behind every ballot initiative is usually a special interest or cause. This prop is meant to scuttle Obamacare. It is suppose to prevent people from being forced into a medical system that will penalize them if they don’t participate. It will actually not prevent Obamacare, but rather create conflict between the federal government and Arizona. I don’t feel this is the best way to deal with health care reform.


Prop. 107 – Arizona Civil Rights Initiative

Passing would amend Arizona’s constitution to ban affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to any person or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin. This would mostly apply to government and political subdivisions such as school districts.

Proponents (YES VOTE) say this provides equal protection for all citizens by not providing preferential treatment to anyone.

Opponents (NO VOTE) argue this will turn back the clock on the civil rights movement, as these programs have helped level the playing field for disadvantaged groups.

Tom’s Pick:

NO on Prop. 107
I struggle with ballot initiatives that I feel are deceptively named. This ballot prop eliminates any affirmative-action style program. So why not call it that? Most civil rights advocates attribute affirmative action as a useful tool that has significantly helped in the civil rights movement. So this initiative wants to eliminate affirmative action and calls itself a “Civil Rights Initiative.” I know that not everyone likes these programs, but there are numerous U.S. Supreme Court decisions that prevent these programs from being run as quotas or set-asides. Any program implemented today has to be preceded by a disparity study showing that a statistical disparity exists. Then a program can be put in place for a limited time to correct that specific disparity. It is a tool. This initiative bans use of this tool and is deceptive in its name.


Prop. 109 – Right to Hunt and Fish Amendment

Passing means the Arizona constitution would be amended to declare that wildlife would be held in trust for Arizonans who have a right to lawfully hunt or fish. It would mean that only the Legislature could pass laws regulating hunting or fishing, and prohibits any law that unreasonably restricts hunting and fishing. It also provides that hunting and fishing are to be the preferred means of managing wildlife populations.

Proponents (YES VOTE) say this will protect hunting and fishing from future excessive regulation.

Opponents (NO VOTE) argue this will negatively impact the ability to use any other established wildlife management practices.

Tom’s Pick:

NO on Prop. 109
One of the things this initiative does is provide for hunting and fishing to be the preferred means of managing wildlife populations. Why would we chose to limit wildlife management to only hunting, when there are other scientific means that can also be useful? Big out-of-state money is being spent on both sides of this initiative. In favor of it is the National Rifle Association and opposed to it is the Humane Society.


Prop. 110 – State Trust Land Exchanges

Passing would amend the Arizona constitution to allow State Trust Land to be sold or leased without an auction if it is to protect a military installation or operation. It will also allow voters to approve land exchanges for military protection or land planning purposes.

Proponents (YES VOTE) say this will protect military facilities and helps better manage Trust Lands.

Opponents (NO VOTE), well, there aren’t any, or at least they haven’t said anything yet. I’ll keep listening.

Tom’s Pick:

YES on Prop. 110
When Arizona became a state, all of the land that the state owned was put into a trust to benefit education. Our forefathers were insightful to take the state’s largest resource and tie it to our greatest future need — education. It is protected in our constitution and has no flexibility. Unfortunately, there was no way that at statehood they could understand the idea of making small future exceptions that might serve a greater good. Protecting Luke Air Force Base is worth making an exception and adjusting the stringent constitutional land laws.


Prop. 111 – Lieutenant Governor

Passage would amend the Arizona constitution to change the title of the secretary of state to lieutenant governor. They would have the same job responsibilities, be elected independent of the governor, and be the first in the line of succession should the governor leave office.

Proponents (YES VOTE) say that given the regularity by which Arizona has had the secretary of state become governor, this would help voters understand the importance of the role when voting for them.

Opponents (NO VOTE) argue that after the primary election, same party candidates for governor and lieutenant governor would be forced to run as a slate. They also point out that this initiative calls for governor and lieutenant governor candidates to be from a major party, thus eliminating the ability of an Independent (which is not itself considered a party) to aspire to them.

Tom’s Pick:vote November 2, 2010

YES on Prop. 111
This initiative changes the title of the secretary of state to lieutenant governor. The person in office would still retain all of the same duties. Because Arizona has had a consistent history of governors not finishing their terms in office and the secretary of state taking over, this would help voters understand the significance of their vote: They are voting for the second-highest ranking official in the state.