Wasted Education

I saw a young woman the other day with severe and longstanding hidradenitis suppurativa. She knew very little about her disease. I logged in to UpToDate and printed out “The Basics”, a two page summary for patients, and the 18 page article for medical professionals. I showed her the pictures of what Hurley Stage II and III look like and we agreed she is probably a stage III. She had had one lesion lanced a few years ago and she had tried one topical agent. I suggested chlorhexidine, prescribed doxycycline and ordered a dermatology consultation to see if she is a candidate for more advanced medications and to help her learn more about her disease. I encouraged her to read the article and to ask the dermatologist lots of questions.

She seemed encouraged as we wrapped up our visit.

Back in my office, I clicked on the “Patient Education” icon and printed out the information that comes with every certified EMR. It was two thirds of a page long, in a large font with one and a half line spacing, and it said very little about her disease. I did what I often do – dropped it in the recycling box next to the printer.

Why print it if I was going to throw it away? Because we get Meaningful Use credit ONLY for patient education that is printed from the EMR. But since the handouts are so embarrassingly rudimentary, I click for credit and give my patients the real stuff from my personal UpToDate account.

This is how a lot of things work in today’s healthcare: Meeting some arbitrary requirement and then making sure the patients get what they really need.

1 Response to “Wasted Education”

  1. 1 Melody A. November 19, 2017 at 2:51 am

    you are one of the few that cares enough to do this , so thank you!!! Take care and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I enjoy reading your posts. from Iowa

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Osler said “Listen to your patient, he is telling you the diagnosis”. Duvefelt says “Listen to your patient, he is telling you what kind of doctor he needs you to be”.


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