Saturday, October 21, 2006

Heart Stents

Read this story in the New York Times. I think it is really well written and takes a complicated medical issue and fairly and clearly presents the various aspects of it.

I post it to give a sense of the complexity of advanced medical treatment. A new technology emerges that appears to hold great promise of treating disease -- in this case, drug-coated stents vs. non-coated stents vs. cardiac surgery. As time passes, doubts emerge as to the relative efficacy of the three.

The solution for the doctor is to stay up-to-date on the latest literature and studies and try to do what is best for the patient who shows up today. Unfortunately, the evidence is not always conclusive. I think this is a significant emotional burden for both patients and doctors. You can't ask someone who is having a heart attack to wait until this is resolved. You also can't ask a doctor who is treating the patient to wait until this is resolved.

I am certainly not wise enough to offer a solution to this particular or general problem, and so I welcome your thoughts.

2 comments:

BC said...

As a patient, if I get the sense that the doctor is competent, up to date, and trying to act in my best interest (as opposed to his or her financial interest), that is all I (or any patient) can reasonably expect.

As one who received both a CABG (1999) and a Cypher DES last year, I actually feel qualified to speak to this. It would also be helpful if information is readily available nationwide about the doctors' education, experience, number of procedures he does per month or per year, disciplinary actions (if any), and any other information that might be useful. Same for hospital mortality stats, infection rates, readmission rates, etc.

Paul said...

Nothing bc requests is not currently collected by the hospitals, but to date, it does not get all posted in timely fashion on any insurance company or government websites. See postings and comments below on transparency.