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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Unnecessary, painful and redundant: Costly care at the end of life

Margie Parko’s story:
During the last year and a half of my mother-in-law's life, her medical care incurred huge medical expenses as the quality of her life declined. She was in her late 80s, and many of the hospitalizations and tests she endured were unnecessary, painful and redundant. Her doctors did not communicate so her medications were often incompatible.

Thousands of dollars could have been saved if her medical records had been electronic and available to both the hospitals and the doctors who were treating her. I believe that in many high-cost areas, making minor changes in patient care and reducing redundancy would improve costs considerably.

Advice: Ask if the hospital has a computerized physician order entry system before you let a family member be hospitalized there.

Read another story about another unnecessary healthcare cost that an electronic medical record could have prevented.

Thanks to Margie for the source letter to the editor in the NY Times of June 10.

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