For the third time, we asked patients, nurses, and physicians to send us anecdotes that illustrate the importance of cost-awareness in medicine. What was in it for them? A chance to shine a national spotlight on a big problem: doctors and patients have to make decisions in a vacuum, without adequate information about how those decisions impact the costs of care. Also in it for them was a chance to win one of four $1000 prizes.
We received more than 150 submissions from all over the country - New York to California, Texas to North Dakota, Alaska to Oklahoma. We will be reviewing the very best submissions with the help of our judges - former United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, ethicist and former White House advisor Zeke Emmanuel, New England Journal of Medicine editor-in-chief Jeffrey Drazen, and New York Times columnist and surgeon Pauline Chen.
Congratulations to our finalists! All of their essays will be published on our blog early in the new year.
Robbie Fenster (Rhode Island), a Brown University medical student describes the power of the "need to know" and the challenge of talking to a patient about an unnecessary and expensive MRI
Dr. Brent Bauer (Minnesota), a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic discusses a patient who underwent many years of expensive tests for chronic pain before being correctly diagnosed and successfully treated for a stress disorder
Benjamin Robbins (Massachusetts), a Harvard Medical Student describes a patient he encountered in the emergency room who declines at CT scan after not being able to find out what it will cost
Ashley Phipps (Colorado), a medical student at the University of Colorado describes how a dedicated group of physicians and social workers helped a patient avoid a hospitalization by obtaining affordable antibiotics
James Bliwas (Ohio), the brother of a cancer patient who preferred to die at home describes his struggle to obtain insurance coverage for a visiting nurse
Erin Plute (Georgia), an Emory medical student discusses the challenge of being an informed patient and how getting a second opinion helped her avoid an unnecessary CT scan
Dayton Opel (Wisconsin), a medical student from Wisconsin who struggled to decipher his emergency room bill even after calling the medical coders and ER physician
David Goldman (New York), the husband of a young woman with a strong family history of breast cancer and BRCA1 mutation describes the struggle of trying to value a "quality year life" when making medical decisions