Longer Looks: Control Of IVF; Doctors And Electronic Records; Writing About Patients
Each week, KHN's Shefali Luthra finds interesting reads from around the Web.
When It Comes To IVF, Who Should Call The Shots?
Patient autonomy is an important issue in every area of medicine. But autonomy doesn’t mean doctors should do whatever the patient wants; it means doctors should allow patients to make treatment decisions after considering the risks, benefits, and doctor’s recommendations. The problem is that in the field of assisted reproduction, it’s not just that a patient’s wishes may go against a doctor’s better judgment—it’s that fertility specialists can’t even agree on best practices amongst themselves. (Olivia Campbell, 2/17)
The (Bend, Ore.) Bulletin:
Electronic Health Records: Turning Doctor Visits Into Data
The federal government hails EHRs as a tool for collecting massive amounts of valuable data and, once the kinks are worked out, for ensuring patients’ records follow them seamlessly as they move from one provider to another. In theory, it sounds like just the thing that could make the health care system more efficient (no more faxes from office to office), safe (no unsafe medication combinations) and population-centric. But many doctors say so far, it hasn’t worked out that way. They say the systems available are hard to use, take up a significant amount of their free time, make medicine less personal and are expensive to implement and maintain, often requiring new staff members just to enter data. (Tara Bannow, 2/16)
Should Doctors Write About Patients?
A number of years ago, I wrote an essay about an elderly woman, a patient of mine. After her death, I spent months cobbling our encounter into a narrative, rich with detail about how her illness had come to define her life, what she looked like, how she sounded. I was proud of the piece and prouder yet when I learned that it would be published. And yet I also felt anxious. This was her story, too. If she were still alive, I could have asked her permission. Now, I could omit details that made it more likely someone might recognize her. So I nixed a few touches that weren’t vital to the piece. Still, I was pretty sure that one of her children—if they happened to come across this—would recognize that their mother as the main character in this story. (Anna Reisman, 2/18)
Block That Sperm!
Though they’re used by almost everyone, contraceptives seem to have advanced less in 50 years than cellphones have in five. The problems with the current birth-control arsenal are well known: The pill is the most common female contraceptive method in the United States, but nearly a third of American users are so dissatisfied that they abandon it within the first year. That’s because the pill, like all hormonal forms of birth control, can have a number of negative side effects, including nausea and mood changes. That’s because the pill, like all hormonal forms of birth control, can have a number of negative side effects, including nausea and mood changes. Intrauterine devices and implants are by far the most-effective forms of reversible birth control, but the only nonhormonal version on the U.S. market—the copper IUD—can cause severe cramping and heavy bleeding. Barrier methods, meanwhile, have high failure rates. The obstacles to introducing new methods are enormous. (Olga Khazan, 2/16)