The People's Perspective on Medicine

940 Patient Safety Lessons from the Skies

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940 Patient Safety Lessons from the Skies

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Tune in to our radio show on your local public radio station, or sign up for the podcast and listen at your leisure. Here’s what it’s about:

Worldwide attention has been riveted on the fate of a Malaysian Airlines jet with 239 people on board. Since flight 370 disappeared on March 8, more than 16,000 people have died as a result of health care harm. Why aren’t we paying more attention? We talk with two experts on what health care could learn from aviation with regard to safety.

For years, we have all been told to stay away from saturated fat. It was assumed that that sat fat raises cholesterol, clogs arteries and contributes to heart disease. Now a meta-analysis covering more than 600,000 people suggests that sat fat is NOT associated with heart disease. What other dietary dogma will need rethinking next?

An editorial critical of the sat-fat meta-analysis was posted Monday, March 24, 2014, on the Science website.

Call in your questions and comments at 888-472-3366 or email between 7 and 8 am EDT.

Guests: Kathleen Bartholomew, RN, MN, is a national consultant and speaker on patient safety. Her books include Speak Your Truth: Proven Strategies for Effective Nurse-Physician Communication; Ending Nurse-to-Nurse Hostility: Why Nurses Eat Their Young and Each Other; and Charting the Course: Launching Patient-Centric Healthcare, co-authored with her husband John Nance. Her website is

John Nance, JD, was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force and a pilot in commercial aviation. He is an internationally recognized broadcast analyst and advocate for both aviation and health care safety. His books include Why Hospitals Should Fly: The Ultimate Flight Plan to Patient Safety and Quality Care and Charting the Course: Launching Patient-Centric Healthcare, co-authored with his wife Kathleen Bartholomew.

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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With doctors rushed to see more patients to make more money, and reluctant or refusing to see Medicare patients, and hospitalists see another doctor’s patient when the patient is the sickest, it is a guarantee for disaster. The younger doctors are the worst. When all my doctors in their 70s retire, I don’t know what I will do. I guess not go to the doctor any more because most of the younger doctors, I am told by my doctors, don’t want to be bothered with patients, they just want to be doctors and collect the money. It is very depressing! The situation is at disaster levels.
A surgeon friend tells me several patients are killed weekly from incompetence in the large hospital where this surgeon works. It is so common, it is not even discussed any longer. It is the same doctors who are killing or maiming them, and nothing is done about these dangerous doctors because “it is hard to find doctors to work at the county hospital.” There is supposedly a shortage of doctors, at least doctors who want to live in Houston. The situation is going to get worse and worse.

Thank you for your show.
I was hoping to find a link for the segment in the 3/22/14 show which discussed statins and pain so that I could send it to my father. If there is a way to find a link for that and you don’t mind sharing, will you email me? Thanks much!

Hands down, this was one of the best shows I have ever heard on the People’s Pharmacy. As a husband and father it helped prepare me to be an advocate for my family when and if any of them have to go for surgery or medical procedures. The last procedure our family went for locally, I took the time prior to educate myself online and knew the right questions to ask the doctor.
Some doctors with the “God” complex get offended at this but many younger doctors expect it and actually appreciate the patient or advocate having an understanding of the medical terminology.

I enjoyed hearing Kathleen Bartholomew and John Nance talk about our need to have a vigorous dialog about patient safety. Kathleen spoke of the need for a close patient/doctor relationship as an element of good care. I agree.
What I find, however, is first finding a doctor – any doctor – can be difficult especially for Medicare patients. Many doctors claim to accept Medicare but call as a new client and one is often told “not accepting new patients”. Secondly, even if one has found a doctor or practitioner if you are hospitalized you must see the hospital’s doctor.
It seems to me that that practice almost guarantees that confusion, lack of coordination of treatment and the possibility of mistakes will occur. I love your program and thank you for giving voice to health issues.

I am frustrated. The air travel industry is a good example of what we need. It’s safety is monitored and regulated by our government. But in health care patients are expected to ‘self monitor and regulate.’ This makes no sense–what do I as a patient know about hospital/medical safety? We don’t expect air travelers to check out the plane, the pilots, the people and equipment in the control tower.
I think this is the cause for the self-conscious laughter when talking about asking doctors to wash their hands, when we know that’s not enough–is the stethoscope clean, what about the other equipment, the clothes the doctor and staff are wearing, do they have unsterile jewelry on, and so on and so on.
We as patients cannot even begin to monitor this system. Our government needs to step in.

We had a family member in the hospital and the specialist on staff and the hospital staff disagreed about treatment.
Several major mistakes were made and the family member
nearly died. Difference in God and a Doctor is God doesn’t think he’s a Doctor…

The current approach to improving health care by inundating physicians with documentation requirements only adds to the problem. It is so distracting and time consuming it is almost impossible to focus on patient care.
I have been practicing for many years and it is harder and harder to actually provide patient care. The policy makers should come out into the world and see the results of all of these policies. Each additional documentation task takes time and costs money. Of course there is no reimbursement to hire personnel to do these tasks so the hamsters in the wheel try to run faster and faster.

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