Nurses and Meaningless Data

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My patient went to the ER for a severe and worsening cough. Above is part of the screening processes done by the nurse. My question is…why?

Pt’s complaint is cough.  The patient was asked about:

  1. Suicidal thoughts
  2. Homicidal thoughts
  3. Fall risk
  4. If he was feeling threatened or has been hurt by someone


This is what happens when you pay hospitals for meaningless quality metrics and add stupid crap to a nurse’s list of things to do.  The result is overwhelmed staff who know that these questions are a joke and who lose that sense of purpose we NEED them to have.

Stop the madness and put an end to meaningless quality metrics and the administrators who get paid extra when their staff uses them!

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  9 comments for “Nurses and Meaningless Data

  1. Sheila Tanenbaum
    January 6, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Saw an Ortho for first visit, and had to fill out similar questionnaire, which was reviewed by nurse. Indicated I had never smoked. 2 weeks later, in exam room, waiting for follow-up by the Ortho, nurse rushes in. “I forgot to ask you if you smoke”
    Replied, “2 weeks ago I told you I have never smoked. Why do you think, at age 76, I suddenly had an over-whelming urge to start now?”

  2. Epiduralgirl
    January 6, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    I was formerly in an abusive marriage and frequently felt unsafe at home. I would never in a million years have shared that with the people who ask those questions. They are beyond useless, even though the intent is good.

  3. Carol RN
    January 6, 2016 at 9:12 am

    You bet- there is a special place in hell for those who work for JACHO, CMS and those idiots. So which level from Dante would you suggest?

  4. Randy
    January 5, 2016 at 10:19 am

    If it’s any consolation they probably just checked the little boxes and didn’t actually ask any of that stuff.

    • Doug Farrago
      January 5, 2016 at 10:19 am


  5. Pat
    January 5, 2016 at 8:56 am

    I worked for a decade in a HCA-owned hospital ER. About 7 years ago, before they were al “EHR”, there were 14 separate forms to be fill out on every patient, even for a simple sore throat. Putting on a computer screen of course has saved nothing. I have ZERO sympathy for any patient complaining about ER wait times. They wanted their government to make it all “free”, and their lawyers to make it “perfect”, and this has been the result.

  6. Perry
    January 5, 2016 at 8:41 am

    I tell my office staff when I get reams of paper generated by the EMRs:
    “I just need the punch line, not the whole joke.”

  7. Dr Bonz
    January 5, 2016 at 7:14 am

    This is exactly what my OFFICE staff has to ask every patient as well. I am an orthopedic surgeon and about 80% of the BS Electronic Medical Record required questions are like this and are completely unrelated to why the patient is there. So, if a medical assistant clicks into a checkbox for literally dozens of meaningless questions like this, THAT is QUALITY medicine? It is if you expect to get paid I suppose! This system is a joke and a colossal waste of everyone’s time.

    • Steve O'
      January 5, 2016 at 8:12 am

      The system is designed by bureaucrats to falsely imply that doctors are willfully dishonest and lazy. They produce phony data that is used to justify their phony jobs.
      It has gone on for many years. We were taught to write monstrous, detailed notes and examinations documenting normal findings. Why?
      What was ever wrong with this note? “Postop day #2 cholecystectomy. Vitals normal, patient eating and moving bowels, surgical site intact and unremarkable, bowel sounds present. Discharge with 1 week followup.” That’s poetry. In those days, medical chart inpatient notes would be perhaps five pages? Every page beyond that is nonsense, created for bureaucrats to justify their leeching off the medical economy.
      Why does medical care cost so much? Because so many moochers want to be part of it. They have the arrogance to boss the doctors and nurses around, because they know they provide no care to the patient. They are the looters of the healthcare economy.

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