Practice Makes Perfect

It seems counterintuitive, but USA Today reports a finding from researchers in emergency medicine showing that if your heart suddenly stops beating, you have a better chance of survival if your city has fewer paramedics on duty than a city with more of them.

The study, presented at a meeting of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, concludes that paramedics should be used only where and when there is a need, and most emergency calls are not for sudden cardiac arrest, thus wasting the experts’ expertise.

If they are deployed only as needed, paramedics spend more of their time actually performing difficult life-saving techniques and get better at it. If all someone does is one thing – be it brain surgery or repairing transmissions — you can bet that person will be expert.

The same principle should apply to any decision a consumer makes about health care. Don’t look at which doctor or hospital is rated best or costs less; look for the one who does the most of what you need done.


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