Filed in Anecdotes, Business storytelling, Corporate Storytelling, Podcast
Do things the right way, not the easy way. Listen to hear how adopting a more transparent system saved thousands of lives in five United States states.
The story follows the introduction of the triplicate system for prescriptions in the United States, the true impact of which wasn’t realised until decades later.
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For your story bank
Tags: extra work, impact, life and death, transparency
This story starts at 04:05
In the late 1930s, in the United States, Paul Madden was appointed as the Head of the Californian Narcotics Enforcement Group. And he was concerned about GPs prescribing addictive drugs like morphine and opioids without keeping track of their prescriptions.
He contemplated how they could develop a bureaucratic solution and eventually devised the triplicate system. The system came in with an extension of the Narcotics Act and required GPs to make three copies of each prescription they created. One copy remained with the GP, two would go with the patient to their pharmacist, and the pharmacist would keep one and send another to a government department that kept track of all prescriptions.
The triplicate system created a sense that people were watching the actions of GPs, but not every state chose to adopt it. Far from it. Only five states brought it in.
Decades later, the 1990s saw the US tackle the opioid crisis. Some 800,000 deaths were associated with addictive drug overdoses.
But the opioid crisis was lesser for those states that had adopted the triplicate system. They saw a monumental 43% fewer deaths than other states.
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