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Clinton: 'Encrusted' Health System is Killing Patients

The former president spoke at an OC summit including medical device makers, doctors and surgeons about how to eliminate the 200,000 yearly unnecessary patient deaths in the U.S.

Speaking in Orange County Monday Former President Bill Clinton blamed an increasingly complex and "encrusted" U.S. healthcare system for ballooning expenses, sicker patients and unnecessary deaths.

Clinton said decades of adding conflicting rules and stopgap measures to an outdated health bureaucracy has led to a bewildering and Byzantine system that accidentally kills 200,000 patients per year in the U.S.

"There’s no devil here," he said. "We have an encrusted system that's killing people, not because there's somebody lurking behind the curtain.

"There need be no evildoers in this story. There's just human nature and the nature of human development,” he added. “Institutions have become ossified and rigid... where position is more important than purpose, or people get overwhelmed by complexity."

Clinton spoke Monday at the Inaugural Masimo Patient Safety Science and Technology Summit at the Laguna Niguel Ritz Carlton. The aim of the conference is to sign up manufacturers and developers of health monitoring devices to share information with one another to reduce unnecessary patient deaths in the United States.

Eight major manufacturers Monday announced their commitment to share information with each other to create a "health data superhighway," which would automatically warn clinicians, patients and families of symptoms indicating an upcoming heart attack, seizure or other health threat.

The U.S. spends 18 percent of its gross domestic product on healthcare, six percentage points higher than the nation with the next most healthcare spending, said Clinton.

Yet the U.S. has poorer outcomes for patients than other Western countries, despite spending more, he said.

Clinton commended the patient safety summit participants for getting together with their knowledge and expertise to help solve the problem of unnecessary patient deaths. Solving the problem would also help address the high cost and poor outcomes that plague the U.S. healthcare system.

“Networks of creative cooperation will dominate the 21st century, for good or for ill -- the cumulative impact of people thinking together, talking together, working together,” Clinton said. “The failure to continuously improve the system... is undermining the productivity of the country.”

Clinton discussed several of his Clinton Global Initiatives that he says have improved the lives of more than 4 million people who now have health clinics near their villages, can afford AIDS medication, or have access to healthier and less sugary foods in schools.

It was these initiatives that inspired Mission Viejo-based Masimo Corporation founder Joe Kiani to organize the patient safety conference. The $500 million-per-year company makes medical devices that monitor hemoglobin levels, the amount of oxygen in the blood and brain function, among other data.

Central to the strategy hashed out at the conference would be to allow medical monitoring devices to communicate with each other and allow computers to collate patient data to keep an eye out for something going wrong. A fluctuation in hemoglobin, for instance, may not mean much alone, but when coupled with some other fluctuations, it could mean disaster for the patient, Kiani said.

Another improvement to patient healthcare addressed at the summit would be to reduce errors in administering drugs and the number of blood transfusions using older blood, which deteriorates over time and can harm patients. Also, instituting basic checklists during surgeries and other procedures -- similar to those used in the aerospace industry -- can help save lives.

 “I know that none of you want to be a part of a system that leaves us sicker and broke, or you wouldn’t be sitting here,” he told the crowd. “I think our future belongs to creative networks of cooperation.

“We’ve got to share data, not hoard it. It’s not unrealistic to think that by 2020, you can get rid of unnecessary deaths in the American healthcare system."

JustUs January 16, 2013 at 05:31 AM
" Mathematics is only a measuring device, like a ruler. The most impt thing is to understand iscwhat it is you're trying to measure." You're full of nonsense tonight, aren't you? You're not helping your credibility on these boards. Much more of that and I will heavily discount anything you claim in the future.
Joker Joe January 16, 2013 at 04:13 PM
ms.sc. Is this the sentence that has your panties in a twist??? "I can see where he would rather have Monica then Hillary though"!! What is sick about it? I was referring to intellect, not physical appearance. You gotta read the words put down and not your own biases..... "Am I God's gift to women"? I never said I was but what is your opinion? I was born in the likeness of God! I was created by God! God is great!
tiny January 16, 2013 at 04:41 PM
I'm agree with many of the things you argue are bad or insane. But if one wishes to correct things is where we would differ. While I acknowledge that gov't has grown too large in many areas, if you try to cut the big programs anywhere close to what is required you're going to increase deaths and probably have people in the streets like happened in Eastern Europe, but maybe not with the happy outcome as occured in 1989. Plus it wouldn't solve anything because the problem is our real economy is so small and the Fed can't print enough money to bail out all the financial obligations of the banks. You would to go with the full FDR approach today if you were looking for a national soloution. And Congress would regulate commerce instead of Wall Street. I know thinking Congress regulating the economy would be like a nightmare to you, but you can see where "free trade" has taken things.
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tiny January 17, 2013 at 03:41 AM
Perspective: www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJqyIPPd1rk

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