Obama Bases Healthcare Plan on faulty medical study

Sunday, March 29, 2009

President Obama has announced the adoption of electronic medical records for his healthcare plan, in the name of scientific evidence. He claimed the national use of such a system would safeguard against medical errors, reduce malpractice lawsuits, facilitate care and save $80 billion per year. How did he get that figure? The president was basing his argument on a faulty 2005 study by RAND (funded by companies such as Hewlett-Packard who would financially benefit from an electronic system). Unfortunately, when telling the America people, he left out several crucial points noted within the report: RAND policy analysts readily admit that there is no compelling evidence at the time to support their theoretical claims. Since the RAND study, much evidence has come forth to prove to prove just the opposite: electronic records have actually increased the number of medical errors.

As far as Obama’s claim that electronic records would reduce malpractice suits, the reality is that malpractice suits usually result from diagnostic errors and due care, rather than technical mistakes such as medication errors. And there is no evidence that electronic systems will reduce diagnostic errors. If fact, most studies prove that electronic systems increased the number of wrong and redundant diagnosis.

As a doctor, I know very well that our healthcare system is seriously flawed and far too weighty economically. However, much of the issue is due to expensive new treatments, insurance billing costs, and uninsured visits to the ER. I’d like to see the president address these with some truthful solutions that could actually work.

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