Monday, March 8, 2010

Dr. Atul Gawande

Floored. Twice in one week. Dr. Atul Gawande and Noam Chomsky.

Not only does Boston offer an abundance of excellent schools, but also talks by famous lecturers, scientist, linguist, and activist. With brilliant guest speakers hailing from all over the world, sharing of ideas, innovation and creativity is unstoppable here.

Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon at the Harvard School of Medicine and writer for the New Yorker, gave a talk at the Trinity Church. The talk runs a choose-your-own-adventure path; ways we can better the health care system or let it remain in its sickly state.

Dr. Gawande puts it simply, humans fail because of ineptitude. The knowledge exists on how to solve major flaws with the health care system, but we fail to put thought into action. "There are 6000 medications, I can prescribe and write to you," said Dr. Gawande. But the simplest way to solve the majority of illnesses is by following a checklist.

Dr. Gawande gave the parents of asthmatic children a checklist to take home of what they could do to help. "The checklist offers suggestions like vacuum your house and dust once a week," said Gawande. By prescribing checklist instead of medication they found that children's hospital admittance from asthmatic illnesses was lowered by 80%.

The problem is asthma is the number one diagnosis for admission. "As any doctor could tell you money is the driving force of the problem," said Dr. Gawande. He said that by changing the way doctors are paid we will greatly contribute to bettering health care.

Dr. Gawande believes to every patient worth its diagnosis, changing payment is crucial to giving Americans optimal and lasting health care. That sounds like a hard task, but Gawande says, "Health insurance is killing us slowly."

His solution is simple, no matter how much of an expert you may be, whether a parent or doctor, checklists improve outcomes.

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