Socialized medicine's triumph, Part 2.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
March 9 2005 6:00 PM

Socialized Medicine, Part 2

Who ever said computers were perfect?

No sooner did I post a column praising the wonders of computerizing health-care records than the Journal of the American Medical Association weighed in with a study saying that the computerization of health-care records is creating problems of its own:

Hospital computerized physician order entry (CPOE)systems are widely regarded as the technical solution to medicationordering errors, the largest identified source of preventablehospital medical error. Published studies report that CPOE reducesmedication errors up to 81%. … [But] [w]e found that a widely used CPOE system facilitated22 types of medication error risks.


This is hardly surprising. During the last two decades, the rest of us learned that new computer systems are always a disaster when they first go online, creating unforeseen problems of various kinds. Nearly all of these problems, however, can be fixed over time, and what can't be fixed can be overridden manually. As best I can make out, none of the problems mentioned in this survey were inherent to computerization itself. For example, at the hospital where this study was conducted, the terminals the doctors use don't display information about dangerous drug interactions that appear on the terminals that the pharmacists use. You don't have to be a computer engineer to grasp that the solution to this problem is to make the information available on the doctors' terminals. Duh!

Whether hospitals find that providing such crucial followup is beneficial to their bottom line is another story. But that just reinforces Phillip Longman and Arnold Relman's point that medicine should not be run according to a market model.

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.



Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows


The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.


More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

We Could Fix Climate Change for Free. What Exactly Is Holding Us Back?

  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 5:21 PM Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS But the next president might. 
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Gentleman Scholar
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM Should Men Still Open Doors for Women? Or is it ungentlemanly to do so at all?  
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 4:36 PM Is Nonfiction the Patriarch of Literary Genres?
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 5:56 PM Watch Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle, Bill Hicks, Mitch Hedberg, and More on New YouTube Channel
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 5:26 PM If Fixing Global Warming Is Free, What’s the Holdup?
  Health & Science
Sept. 17 2014 4:49 PM Schooling the Supreme Court on Rap Music Is it art or a true threat of violence?
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?