1. VA hospitals lie and vets die

    World's worst healthcare system

    Monday is Memorial Day, a time to honor the brave men and women who died in service to our nation.

    But today, I want to talk about the ones who made it back alive -- the veterans who sacrificed everything just short of their lives, often suffering grievous injuries as a result.

    And our own government has been abandoning them and not holding true to their promise of taking care of them in VA hosptials. It is pathetic!

    The Veteran's Administration has repaid their loyalty, dedication, sacrifice and service by enrolling them in the most dysfunctional healthcare system on the planet -- one so short-staffed and underfunded that many veterans have to wait months for care.

    Some have literally died waiting.

    In a huge cover up, VA hospitals are accused of keeping two sets of books: a fake one, that shows veterans getting timely care, and one with the real numbers showing the long waits.

    As veterans who survived the wait were finally scheduled for long-overdue appointments at VA hospitals, they were moved from the secret book onto the real one, to make it look as it they were treated quickly and efficiently.

    In reality, they were suffering and even dying.

    The media just blew the lid off the scandal now, but I've been hearing about this for years from veterans who visit my own clinic near San Diego (about as big a military town as you'll find).

    And I'm not the only one.

    Government leaders are feigning outrage and pretending that they want to get to the bottom of this, but it turns out they may have known about the inaccurate waiting times all along. There's evidence that the problem extends at least back to the Bush Administration, and evidence they warned the Obama team about it during the transition in 2008, the Washington Times reported.

    The only reason they're taking action now is because of the media attention and the pressure it's generated.

    So keep up the pressure. Contact your lawmakers and demand an investigation -- and demand that our veterans get the medical care they've earned by shedding blood for God and country.

    They've done so much for us. Giving them basic healthcare is the absolute least we can do for them.

  2. Human error goes digital

    Looks like computers are only human after all.

    Computers were supposed to change healthcare permanently and forever, and in many ways they have.

    But when it comes to slashing the number of medical mistakes, we still have a long way to go -- because it turns out computers are just as likely as humans to botch drug prescriptions.

    Researchers looked at data on 3,850 electronic prescriptions filled at pharmacy chain locations in three states during a four-week period in 2008.

    The researchers say they found mistakes in 11.7 percent of all prescriptions and that four percent were serious enough
    that they could have led to adverse events, according to the study in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

    That's right in line with the error rate we've (sadly) come to expect from the traditional handwritten prescriptions --which proves that many of the problems don't stem from a doctor's poor handwriting.

    They stem from a poor attention to detail.

    Most of the mistakes were omissions: The researchers say more than 60 percent of the errors involved missing details
    such as dose, frequency, and number of days.

    Now, if you're like me, you're probably wondering why the software allows e-prescriptions to be sent to the pharmacy
    with all those missing blanks.

    Short answer: It doesn't.

    Just about all the programs used for electronic prescriptions have a setting that rejects the prescription if it contains missing data, forcing the doctor to fill it all in before it can be sent.

    But docs aren't using it -- that setting is either being shut off, or it was never turned on in the first place.

    These programs also have a setting that figures out possible drug interactions as well as the maximum dose of each med -- and again, docs aren't using it.

    The researchers say simply switching on those two functions alone would have prevented 77 percent of the errors uncovered by their study.

    I think it's time someone rewrites the software so those functions can't be turned off.

    In the meantime, whether your prescription comes from a pen or a machine, the same rules apply: Ask your doctor what you're taking, how much you should take and when you should stop.

    Write it down if you have to.

    And then make sure the drug label that ends up in your hands matches what you were told in the exam room.

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