Dumb Design

This entry, ever expanding, lists news articles about attempts to correct societal imperfections, governmental and other, and their counterintuitive results, unintended consequences, and general misadventures – all very visible in hindsight.

1. NYT (07Aug11): The Phantom Menace of Sleep-Deprived Doctors, by Darshak Sanghavi. The father of young Libby Zion blamed sleepy doctors for the death of his daughter, and managed to get the rules changed nationwide so that medical residents can get some sleep. Took him 30+ years. Turns out that wasn’t the problem, and more sleep wasn’t the answer. Someone finally did what I’d call “systems analysis” and came up with better solutions for patient care.

2. NYT (06Aug11): Shortchanging Cancer Patients, by Ezekiel J. Emanuel. Fourteen of the 34 generic cancer drugs on the market in the US are in short supply this month. Going generic can drop a drug’s price by 90%, but President Bush’s Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 prevents raising prices by more than 6% every six months in the event of a subsequent supply/demand imbalance. So why bother, say the manufacturers. Clearly there was no Legislative Impact Statement done on that provision of the law! [BTW, Europe doesn’t have these shortages.]