What We're Reading: Scrutiny on Freestanding Emergency Centers

What we're reading, August 22, 2016: freestanding emergency clinics come under increased scrutiny; hospitals are being more open about medical mistakes; and regulations to blame for rising generic drug prices.

Freestanding emergency centers offer another choice for patients, but the proliferation of these centers is impacting healthcare. According to AP, these centers are taking root in suburbs and affluent neighborhoods, causing challenges for medical clinics and hospitals as the centers siphon away physicians to the detriment of patients in need who live in rural areas. These freestanding emergency rooms have increased from 222 in 2009 to 260 in 2015 and tend to locate in ZIP codes where there are more privately insured patients with higher incomes.

Instead of the usual “deny-and-defend” approach, hospitals are beginning to be more open when there is a medical mistake. Hospitals are beginning to implement approaches for physicians to openly and honestly discuss adverse events with patients and family members, reported Kaiser Health News. Creating such an open environment can reduce serious safety events as physicians learn from past mistakes, but hospitals might have to pay for remedies if the patient believes the hospital was at fault.

Recent regulations imposed on generic drug firms are partly to blame for rising drug prices, Scott Gottlieb, MD, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former FDA deputy commissioner wrote in a piece for The Wall Street Journal. In addition, Gottlieb pointed to the long review process and regulations that make it economically difficult for more than one generic firm to enter the market.