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ONLINE News Briefs


Malpractice, Patient Safety, Phones, Mutual Funds


ONLINE News Briefs

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Choose article section...Malpractice: A doctor's treatment regimen becomes a prescription for a lawsuitPatient Safety: What does the rate of medical errors really mean?Phones: Don't forget your address bookMutual Funds: Help in finding low-cost options

Malpractice: A doctor's treatment regimen becomes a prescription for a lawsuit

Physicians owe a duty to nonpatient third parties who are injured as a result of negligent prescribing decisions, says the Hawaii Supreme Court. The ruling came in the case of a child who was struck by a car after the driver suffered an adverse reaction to a prescription medication and fainted. The girl's parents sued the driver, his health plan, and his doctor's medical group.

Although the physician and the drug's label both cautioned against driving while on the medication, the court reasoned that it was "foreseeable that [the patient] would drive . . . and therefore subject [others] to harm." The defendants had argued that exposing doctors to such liability would create "divided loyalties," requiring them to choose between the interests of their patients and those of unknown third parties.

The court didn't rule on the merits of the case, but merely said that the parents' case could go forward.

Patient Safety: What does the rate of medical errors really mean?

It's been almost three years since the Institute of Medicine focused a national spotlight on medical errors and called for mandatory reporting systems to collect standardized data about adverse events that result in death or serious harm. Now the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention has affirmed the value of reporting errors in order to develop strategies for improving safety.

The Council warns that the data shouldn't be used to compare health care organizations, however. There are no acceptable incidence rates for such errors, the group says, and too many differences among health care organizations that can affect the level of errors reported: disparities in patient populations, types of reporting and detection systems, and even in how "medical error" is defined. Instead, the Council urges organizations to use medication error reporting to identify weaknesses within their own system.

The NCCMERP was founded in 1995 to promote the reporting, understanding, and prevention of medication errors. Its membership includes representatives of the AMA, AHA, and other health-related groups.

Phones: Don't forget your address book

You'll pay up to $1.29 to get a phone number from directory assistance on your cell phone, says a survey by the Telecommunications Research & Action Center. In 2001, all wireless companies charged less than $1 for directory assistance, says the telecommunications consumer group; now only AT&T, Verizon, and VoiceStream do. You'll also use up minutes for these calls. Dialing 411 from traditional wire lines will cost you, too, in some areas–up to $1.25 per listing.

Cost per listing
Cingular Wireless
Sprint PCS
Nextel Communications
New York City
Los Angeles
Washington, DC

*Some of the local lines offer a number of free calls to directory assistance before charging.

Source: TRAC


Mutual Funds: Help in finding low-cost options

The Mutual Fund Education Alliance has a new online tool to help you find no-load funds. The national trade association of no-load mutual funds launched the new feature on its Web site at www.mfea.com . Turn to "How to Buy No-Load Funds" to learn about buying them directly from fund companies, through online brokers such as Charles Schwab & Co, in employer-sponsored retirement plans, state "529" college savings plans, or through financial advisers.


Joan Rose. ONLINE News Briefs.

Medical Economics


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