RightCare Action Week a huge success, surgeons double booked without patient knowledge, and the importance of communications in science

October 29, 2015

In order to bring you more of the news you want to read, RightCare Weekly summarizes and interprets three important articles and provides headlines linking to the many other articles and editorials you’ll find interesting. As always, RightCare Weekly presents articles related to moving our healthcare system toward the right care for all patients.

Join the conversation: Post your comments in our section at the bottom of this page.


The week passed too quickly, but the positive memories remain. Last week across the nation, hundreds participated in our first RightCare Action Week, to demonstrate how much better healthcare delivery can be. Participants were involved in StorySlams, RightCare Counts, Photo Campaigns and so much more. Many thanks to all who participated. See our media coverage below, and our Twitter chat here. One of the most imaginative projects of the week was conducted by Vikas Saini, MD, our president, and Aaron Stupple, MD, a resident from Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham. Stupple had the idea to create the “Listening Booth,” a traveling table and chairs that they lugged each day to a different section of Boston, in their effort to encourage passersby to share their healthcare experiences, good and bad. Why a “Listening Booth”?  Stupple says “The trouble with healthcare is an absence of listening. If we (physicians) don’t have time to listen, everything that comes after that is likely to be wrong.” During the week, the doctors spoke with—no, they listened to—about one hundred people who relayed their personal stories about the care they or a loved one received. Donned in their white coats, Saini and Stupple attracted lots of interest, especially on Boston Common, when the Boston Globe met up with them— to listen—to what they had to say about their project. What will they do with their findings? Use the public input in designing the next phases of the Institute’s work.


The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team, in a lengthy piece, this week reported on star surgeon Kirkham Wood, MD, from Massachusetts General Hospital, who performed risky overlapping procedures without informing the patients involved and they questioned the safety and propriety of the practice. Is it right for surgeons to perform concurrent surgeries in two ORs — especially when the patients who are involved don’t know? Isn’t safety also compromised? Double-booked surgery is an accepted practice at the hospital, and staff aren’t obligated to tell patients it will happen. MGH’s president defends the practice, citing they haven’t found a single case where it actually caused harm. (Talk about informed consent.) Globe columnist Joan Vennochi, couldn’t help but write “Some patients would not sign off if they knew their surgeon was dashing between ORs during spinal cord operations. As a matter of math, that would reduce double-bookings, and with it, money-making potential.” Ironically, a study this week from the same institution found half of all surgery performed there in an eight-week period came with medication errors or unintended side effects. One-third of the drug errors caused harm. While we don’t know if double-bookings were part of the study, we believe transparency and safety must be go hand-in-hand when it comes to healthcare.

Communications is hardly its forte. So when the World Health Organization came out this week with findings that processed meat and red meat are carcinogens to humans, social and traditional media was abuzz. Processed meat is associated with small increases in risk of cancer, as Mother Jones and The Atlantic point out. In fact, a 10-gram piece of processed meat consumed daily will increase colon cancer risk by 18 percent. But what exactly does this mean to the average consumer? The WHO provided no context to the various categories of carcinogens, and misinterpretations took off like wildfire. The headline from The Guardian screamed “Processed meats rank alongside smoking as cancer causes—WHO.” Really? Until scientists and clinicians are able to simplify health information they disseminate to the public, few will understand how to maintain good health and maybe will needlessly think twice about that monthly slice of bacon.


Time to submit your abstract!  The Lown Institute’s 4th Annual Conference, with a special pre-conference academic research day, will take place April 15-17, 2016 at the JW Marriott Chicago. We are accepting abstracts for the inaugural academic research day, April 15. In particular, we are accepting abstracts for research that enhances understanding of aspects of right care. Deadline for abstract submissions is November 15, 2015. For submission information, click here. Register for the conference here.



RightCare Action Week media:




Cost of care



Breast cancer care


Tech & innovation


Public health/social determinants




Public health




Primary care




Dr. Lown




Population health


Care team






Elder care


End-of-life care


RightCare Weekly is made possible through the generous support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.