Sunday, May 31, 2009

101 Ways To The Best Medical Care

I just had an opportunity to read an interesting book titled "101 Ways To The Best Medical Care" written by Charlotte E. Thompson, MD.

The subtitle is "The medical guide that could save your life". Since patients don't have transparency in healthcare quality information and there are so many medical quality issues, that statement may be true for some readers. If you have to be admitted to the hospital, have a challenging clinical issue or simply "fall through the cracks"; your life could be at risk. Each patient needs to take an active role in their care to protect their health and safety. Books like this one can give patients some ideas to consider.

The book is very wide ranging; covering topics from clinical issues (doctors, hospitals, emergencies) to Insurance (medicare, overseas) to administrative (medical records, etc.). While not every chapter will apply to each person, it is likely that many chapters will be useful to most patients.

The chapters on finding a different doctor, getting the best care and becoming informed were very useful. The chapter on hospital care was also a gem - warning of teaching hospitals, nursing shortage and what patients should do.

Given the breadth of the book it isn't surprising that I would take a different approach or view on some of the advice. While I agree that using the yellow pages to find a doctor won't give you any useful quality information; I'm not sure asking friends will be much better. Quality information needs to come from qualified and trusted sources. I always recommend checking federal and state websites when available.

And the statement "you usually get what you pay for" on page 8 is definitely not what I have found in my research on healthcare quality and pricing. At best there is no definitive link between cost of care and quality of care; and some evidence draws the opposite conclusion: higher quality care can cost less than poor quality care. See Health Affairs just this Month- Hospital Quality And Intensity Of Spending: Is There An Association?

While I see a few things differently, I congratulate Dr. Thompson on her efforts and her book. It has some great advice that should help many patients.

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