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Part 1 Greatest Achievement

In reflecting on the (personal) remembered history of healthcare industry as to the greatest achievement, I would say that, using life as a standard, that the development of antibiotics and vaccines is the greatest accomplishment. These have saved millions of lives over the years. As an example, during World War I, more US soldiers and sailors died from pneumonia and the flu than died in combat (C. Byerly, 2010).

 

Part II  Redundancy

A look at the definition of redundancy says the meaning, in summary, is something no longer needed or useful or inclusion of extra things not really necessary for functioning (dictionary preloaded software on my computer – I have no idea how to reference that otherwise). A good example of this definition is airplanes or the space shuttle. There are back up systems for all critical systems in the vehicle (Cox, 2013).

 

In my work, I care for patients on life support machines which we call ventilators. I also work with delivery of different gases and gas mixtures We have some redundancy depending on which mode of ventilation the patient happens to be placed in. All, let me stress that – ALL the modes of ventilation have alarms for various parameters to alert us when a patient exceeds or violates the parameters we have set. These parameters are documented in the patient medical record. Some of the modes of ventilation we set what we literally call “Backup Ventilation Parameters.” These are set to give audio and visual alerts when the patient stops breathing and the machine also delivers breaths to the patient based on the parameters set by the clinician. We also call this Apnea Ventilation. If you don’t know what apnea means, it means absence of breathing. Yes, if you stop breathing, you turn a lovely shade of purple and die – not so lovely.

 

In healthcare, some redundancy is necessary, even lifesaving. In record keeping, most redundancy is just that, redundant. The requirement by the government that all medical records be converted to electronic record keeping, well, doesn’t meet the intended purpose of making you medical records easier for your healthcare providers to access. It is also much costlier than “the old” paper records system. Consider the cost of computers, programs, maintenance, upgrades, and so on. For a small doctor’s office practice these costs can run in excess of $60-70,000. It is in the millions for hospitals and medical centers. And for computer down time or failure, back up paper records are used. Does that meet the definition of irony or forced government stupidity?

 

Second opinions are an area where more redundancy is needed. This regards diagnoses. The second opinion may be the same results as the first but a “second set of eyes” may offer additional options. Most insurance will cover the costs of second opinions. I don’t know about this aspect in regards to Obamacare.

 

 

References

 

Byerly, C. (2010). The U.S. Military and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918–1919.  

Public Health Rep. 2010; 125(Suppl 3): 82–91. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2862337/

 

Cox, J. (2013). Ask the Captain: Do vital functions on planes have backup power? USAToday.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/columnist/cox/2013/05/06/ask-the-captain-do-vital-functions-on-planes-have-backup-power/2138467/   

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