Saturday, August 21, 2010

Trusting: What it Means to be a Patient

Social media is an amazing technological development. With the nexus of smart phones, the Internet and social media sites, we have eyewitness Tweets and blog posts instantly as developments occur around the world.

Some users bring us into their momentary existence—“Dining on peacock and quail egg souffle tonight.” However, I have chosen not to inflict my readers with the minutia of my daily life. (You're welcome.)

That is—until now, because at the moment I’m in the hospital.

From the time I checked in, I have been in constant surveillence mode. My radar has been sweeping the perimeter as I’ve been handed off: patient registration, medical history, blood work, patient room check-in, intravenous tech, surgeon consult, anesthesiologist consult (lamenting the shortage of propofol)—z-z-z-z—recovery room, back to my room.

My radar detected: Becton Dickinson, Kimberly Clark, Hill Rom, Baxter, Welch Allyn, GE, Ortho-McNeil-Jennsen, Hospira, Teva.... all in the hands of smiling and caring medical practitioners.

My professional demons have forced me to scroll through my mental Rolledex of Warning Letters, consent decrees, and industry intelligence. But in the end I have to let go and trust, not only in the doctors and nurses, but in the medical products in their hands.

That’s what it’s about, right? Trust.

We work in an industry of high, implicit public trust. Patients shouldn’t have to wonder whether the sterilization load pattern was validated; whether suppliers of components and raw materials are under control; whether the active ingredient in the tablet is uniformly distributed; whether the label is correct; whether the impact of process changes and manufacturing deviations were reviewed on their technical merits by process engineers and scientists and approved by quality assurance....

Why? Because patients in general, and I specifically have other things on our minds. And the medical products we use while in our most vulnerable state should be the least of our worries.

I don’t wish ill on anyone, but perhaps it’s good to be the patient once in a while.

Today I’m on the receiving end and not all that concerned about the medical products being used for my care...really—sorta, kinda—not.

The QA Pharm


  1. Excellent post. It's amazing how much we trust. And the more we know about the details, the more of a leap it seems to believe that it has all fallen correctly into place. I was recently wondering about transport temperatures. Are the trucks that deliver over-the-counter drugs refrigerated? Or is my Cough syrup sitting in a 110F truck for three days as it drives through Arizona or Mississippi or Florida. I am going to assume (because sometimes you just have to trust) that my perscriptions are handled with care in transport. But somehow I doubt the dude that delivers asprin to the texico convenience store is watching a thermometer.

    Anyway ... great blog.


  2. Thank you, Willow Tree. Speaking of OTC medications, who in the world would ever buy them at flee markets sitting out in the hot sun? I can tell you on good authority that none of these products originate from a legitimate source. They are stolen goods.
    Thanks again.
    The QA Pharm