ANTSY.COM. Do you have trouble staying focused? Does even the slightest disruption cause you to abandon what you're doing and move on to something else?
Come work in the Internet industry, where everyone from programmers to CEOs seems to suffer from attention deficit disorder.
At the e-Healthcare World conference last month in New York City, attendees' personal behavior mirrored their fast-paced industry in laughable ways. To begin with, the sessions at the conference were limited to 50 minutes, compared with 90 minute sessions at most other healthcare conferences. At one session on marketing to physicians, attendees were up, out of their seats and talking amongst themselves long before the moderator had finished wrapping things up. Finally, the conference reception was sponsored by, you guessed it, wine.com.
Rub-a-dub-dub. It appears that mom's reminders to wash your hands have been lost on one group: people who work in the intensive care unit, the place with the sickest of patients, most prone to drug-resistant infections.
A recent study conducted at Duke University Medical Center found that only 17 percent of physicians treating patients in the ICU washed their hands appropriately.
The reasons for not washing hands (not enough time, inaccessible sinks, chapped hands from excessive washing and rough paper towels) seem, well, lame compared to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control:
- Each year, 1.8 million people will pick up an infection in the ICU.
- The cost of treating those infections totals $4.5 billion.
- 20,000 will die as a direct result of contracting an infection in the hospital.
Then again, maybe not.
Tip sheet. Physicians are getting some help in steering their patients to trustworthy healthcare information on the Internet. The not-for-profit Internet Healthcare Coalition has developed a set of tips for health consumers that can help patients distinguish quality from quackery.
The advice is being distributed to physicians at several medical meetings this year, in the form of laminated, pocket-sized cards that doctors can pass along to patients. Among key points:
- Question Web sites that credit themselves as the sole source of information on a topic.
- Find out if the site is professionally managed and reviewed by an editorial board of experts.
- Sponsorship and advertising funding arrangements should be clearly stated and separated from editorial content.
A jury in Odessa, Texas, ordered a cardiologist and pharmacy to pay Ramon Vasquez's family $450,000 after Vasquez received the wrong drug at a fatal dose and died.
The cardiologist intended to write a prescription for Isordil, which is used to treat angina. The pharmacist read the script as Plendil, a cardiac medicine used to lower blood pressure. He didn't call the doctor to verify the prescription, and the 42-year-old man had a heart attack the day after he began taking the medication. He died several days later.
The pharmacy had previously settled out of court for an undisclosed sum and wasn't subject to the jury verdict, leaving the doctor stuck for his $225,000 share.
The family had no problem with the doctor's care, says Kent Buckingham, their lawyer. "He's a good doctor with bad handwriting," Buckingham says.
Opportunity knocks. A few days after the Vasquez verdict hit the press, Ohio-based Monarch Marking Systems sent out a news release highlighting a printer that works with palm-size computers to send prescriptions: "With the new Monarch printer, the age-old problem of hard-to-read doctor prescriptions may be a thing of the past." A prime example of the marketing equivalent of ambulance chasing.