Sunday, November 29, 2020
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Understanding limits

Covid-19   Diabetes   Patient Safety   Communication   Stress Reduction

Today’s Read: 3.5 minutes

We hope you had a restful couple of days (or at least see a few in sight). Today we share an explanation on why some don’t take the coronavirus threat seriously, what mindfulness can and cannot do about stressful situations, how placing a picture on EHR thwarts wrong-patient order errors, and when the cardiac risks of diabetes are hidden.

Plus, ravens…nevermore. 😉


Understanding why some don’t see Covid-19 as a threat

You may have treated patients that don’t believe in the coronavirus and its threat. In fact, it might have been the most political issue of the 2020 election. But why? It could be how a person perceives the virus. How a person perceives the virus’s ability to control its own actions and exert power over people, something also known as agency, according to a study out of Lehigh University, could determine how they respond to it.

For instance, conservatives tend to be more sensitive to threats that are relatively high in agency. Mirroring the pandemic environment, some things that are considered high in agency are policymakers, media organizations, neighbors, and the American public. In comparison, the virus has less agency. 

Viewing the pandemic through this lens, conservatives are more likely to blame any negative outcomes in their lives on policymakers or fellow Americans rather than the virus itself. Said another way, they can’t see or feel or change the virus directly, so they don’t feel threatened by the virus, and therefore don’t need to protect themselves against it.

According to a paper published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, part of this behavior is explicable because conservatives tend to see free will as the primary driver of outcomes in life, whereas liberals are more accepting of the idea that randomness plays a role. Compared to liberals, conservatives tend to attribute outcomes to purposeful actions. 

If this is the case, the question becomes: how do we give the virus agency? Talk about the virus’s motive to replicate to stay alive and that humans are the vectors to make this happen. It sounds a bit sci-fi but it’s true, right? It also might be what we need to make people wear a face mask.

Mindfulness has its limitations

In the heat of stressful moments, being mindful isn’t going to stop your body’s fight-and-flight response, suggests a new study in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

The study measured the cardiovascular responses of 1,001 participants during stressful tasks. Earlier research suggests that mindfulness could help people manage stressors, but, in this study, mindful participants were found to be sweating the small stuff and demonstrating stress-related cardiovascular responses. However, afterward, they reported having a positive experience.

The bottom line: Mindfulness has its benefits, just not in the heat of stressful tasks. Instead, being mindful may only benefit you on the other side of a high-pressure experience after it has ended, since mindful people tend to not dwell on past events and claim to manage stress well.

Something to consider when facemasks aren’t a thing

Each year, Brigham and Women’s Hospital healthcare providers place over a million orders through their EHR system. Most of them happen without incidence: 99.9% of these orders are for the correct patient. So what about the 0.1% of wrong-patient orders?

Researchers at the hospital analyzed 2.5 million placed orders for 71,851 unique patients between July 2017 and June 2019 to determine underlying causes.  The researchers found that when the hospital encouraged patients entering the emergency department to have their picture taken, wrong-patient orders decreased by 35%. Therefore, having photos for patients would mean mitigating an estimated two errors in every 1,000 orders. Read more here.



The percentage of diabetes patients who are at a high or very-high risk of experiencing a cardiac event within the next 10 years, according to a study of nearly 375,00 patients published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. What’s more: Half of the patients in the very high-risk group had no history of heart disease, meaning they were not receiving medications to prevent heart attacks and strokes.


Listen to (and learn about) the sweet love songs of ravens.

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