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English Detective #34: Toward ‘Healthier’ Health Care, Mar. 11, 2014
March 11, 2014

The current investigation (Introducing this issue):

This issue starts with two TED talks about ways to improve medical care—to make the health care system “healthier.” The first, on what doctors can learn from each other, is fairly short (13 minutes) and easy to read.

The second speaker argues that the best medical care is not the most expensive, but the care that is the best integrated into a system so that all the parts (components) work well together and reinforce each other.

His team looked for ways to improve surgery results. They learned that high-risk industries like aviation (airplane companies) reduce risks by using checklists for all important steps.

When they implemented checklists at eight hospitals around the world, they reduced complications, and the death rate went down almost 50%!

His conclusion? In a complex world with growing specialization, we need to work together, using systems, not just individual skill.

You can practice learn more medical terms on the Basic Medical Vocabulary page, and practice it on Medical Vocabulary 2. (Links below.)

Your First Clue: Vocabulary Emphasized in this Issue

New: acronym, affordable, budget, checklist, clinicians, (pit) crew, risk (and physicians, surgeons, and surgery, discussed in Medical Vocabulary.)

Review: licensed.

Notes about the new vocabulary:

An acronym is a name made from the first letters of the words in its title. Examples: the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), and UNICEF (originally United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.)

Affordable means that someone is able to pay for something. It’s not impossibly expensive.

A budget is a spending plan. Families, businesses, and governments all may have budgets so they can decide the best way to use the money they have. A budget sets the amount of money that should be spent on each need: a certain amount on food, a certain amount to pay for housing expenses, electricity, transportation, etc.

To budget is to make such a plan.

A checklist is a list of items to be done or reviewed. As each is finished, it is checked off.

A clinician is a health care professional (for example, a doctor or nurse) who gives direct patient care.

Licensed means having a license (official document or certificate) that says a person is qualified to practice a certain skill such as driving, construction, or medicine.

A pit crew is the group of skilled mechanics who can work together smoothly to service or fix a race car as quickly as possible during a race.

Risk is the chance of danger or problems. Anything in life has some risk (something might go wrong), but certain activities (like riding a motorcycle in the rain without a helmet or going into a war zone) are especially risky.

Sometimes a person will risk his life savings (all the money he has been able to earn) in order to start a business he has always dreamed of having. He realizes he may lose it, but he’s willing to take that risk because he wants that dream so much.

Getting the whole story: reading/listening practice:

Here's the talk on doctors learning from their colleagues.

Here’s the talk on the need for good systems in medical care.

Follow the Clues (Vocabulary Practice):

Click here for an introduction to medical vocabulary, with a practice exercise.

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Coming in the next issue: Superhero Healing

In case you missed these: Earlier issues of English Detective have articles on a number of topics, plus practice with all 570 words from the Academic Word List. You can check them out with the link to the back issues page below (or find what words were practiced each issue here.

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