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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