What are the top screwups that politicians make?
Joe and Terry Graedon, radio hosts of “The People’s Pharmacy,” have a new book, “Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them.”
Could politicians and doctors be making the same mistakes?
Here is the Graedon’s top 10 list of medical screwups and the similar errors our political leaders make.
1. Not listening.
The Graedons write, “Many doctors have a habit of interrupting patients within 12 to 20 seconds of the beginning of an office visit.”
Tea Partiers, Occupiers and many other Americans will tell you that politicians are not listening to them, either.
The Graedons suggest that at least 40,000 to 80,000 deaths in hospitals result from misdiagnosis each year.
Partisans in both political parties say that the other side’s misdiagnosis of economic problems threatens the country’s ability to recover.
3. Providing too little information.
The Graedons assert that doctors often “gloss over” the possible harmful side affects of the medicines they prescribe.
Politicians consistently downplay the downsides of their proposed economic recovery plans.
4. Not dealing with side effects.
The Graedons suggest that 25 percent of the time doctors “ignore drug-induced side effects” reported by their patients.
Politicians almost always ignore the harmful side effects of their actions.
5. Undertreating or ignoring the evidence.
The Graedons report that far too many patients die because their physicians fail to implement the best treatment for their conditions.
Many economic experts believe that adopting something like the Bowles-Simpson plan for deficit reduction is necessary for the nation’s long-term economic good health. But politicians on both sides act as if doing nothing is better than implementing those proposals.
6. Overreacting or being seduced by numbers.
The Graedons suggest that doctors are prescribing too much medicine even when studies show no benefit and possible harm. This, they say, is the “lottle” principle, a dangerous one. “If a little is good, then a lottle will be better.”
Politicians adopt the “lottle” principle, especially when it applies to programs that pour money into their districts.
7. Overlooking drug interactions.
Because a “surprising number of people swallow dozens of pills daily,” it is not possible for one person to know the “many potentially dangerous drug interactions.”
Similarly, politicians cannot know every consequence of their proposals mixed with the multiplicity of other government programs, proposed or already in effect.
8. Failing to revise the plan.
“Once a doctor anchors onto a diagnosis, it can be hard for him to dismiss it, even if there is evidence that doesn’t quite fit the pattern.”
The same thing in politics, say Brooks Jackson and Kathleen Hall Jamieson in their book, “Unspun.” “Both sides tend to ignore evidence that doesn’t favor their point of view and to avoid tough problems by spinning them away and hoping voters won’t notice.”
9. Overlooking lab results.
The Graedons report that a significant number of negative results from lab tests are not reported to patients, even when the report shows the need for medication or other treatment.
Politicians don’t always share the results of government reports with their voters when the reports show the negative results of the politicians’ programs.
10. Not addressing lifestyle issues.
“Doctors know that healthy habits could replace a lot of medication.” But doctors “don’t know how to help patients change their behavior.” So the Graedons conclude, “Don’t look to your doctor for a lot of help when it comes to healthy habits.”
Politicians know that the nation’s basic health crisis is grounded in lifestyle, economic, and social issues, but their solutions are more high-cost treatments and drugs to treat ailments that could have been prevented by healthy habits.
Before you say the analogy between medical and political mistakes is strained, tell me which set of screwups scares you more.