M&M is about Morbidity and Mortality. Did you know your local hospital and clinic typically has a monthly “M and M” meeting? Doctors, nurses, and administrators gather in an auditorium and review cases that ended poorly the month before.
Mortality. We know what that is. That’s people dying. So, we can understand some of the things that they are discussing: people who died (possibly on the operating table) who should not have. Did the procedures in place work or not work, etc.? The doctors, nurses, and other people involved in the case have to get up and discuss what went wrong. They usually do the same with Morbidity. Morbidity is disability or disease. Did something occur in the hospital or in the clinic that caused someone to be permanently disabled? What went wrong? These meetings are oftentimes very raw and very blunt, but people have to be honest with one another to correct the mistakes and make certain that they don’t happen in the future.
The prevalence of clinical errors is why it is not unusual if you are having knee replacement for a nurse to repeatedly come into your room to verify which knee is to be replaced, and they will often write with a marker on the other knee, “Not This One”. We have all heard stories of someone having surgery on one side of the body that should have been on the other side. The way to make these mistakes less pervasive is by making sure that you have the details that you did not have before and making sure that you have procedures in place.
We have discussions about morbidity and mortality. We have to use information that we have: statistics and actuarial science to determine what will likely happen in a person's life. We know that men do not live as long as women. When we have to plan out how much money people need for the remainder of their lives, men typically have shorter lives. The math is going to be different. Women, on the other hand, will live longer and need more resources. When it comes to morbidity though, women have more disabilities than men. I believe one of the reasons for that statistic is that typically a man will deal with pain until he can’t stand it any longer. His spouse will then force him to see the doctor and go together because she’s there to make certain that he tells the truth. When the doctor asks when he started experiencing this pain, the husband will turn to his wife and ask, “When was George W. the President again?” Women, I believe, are the smarter sex. They will realize that something isn’t right and go see the doctor. Women actually believe that an annual physical happens annually. Men, on the other hand, well, it’s kind of whenever they get around to it.
I was visiting with a couple recently who are retired executives. Several years ago, they were part of the building project that doubled the size of one of our local hospitals. When the project was complete, they told me the story of standing outside that hospital. One turned to the other and said, “You know, we’re probably going to die in that building.”
What does this have to do with M&M’s? You need to strategize how to organize your life financially. Are you planning for things that can happen that could cause you to have morbidities? What about things that could prevent you from being able to work? What about not being able to make the same money to provide the resources to live the life that you have become accustomed to? Are you planning what to do if you live too short or if you live too long? Do you have the resources to get to that point?
If you are only looking at rates of return or the portfolios of your 401k or investments, take a clue from doctors who meet every, single month in an auditorium to address problems of morbidity and mortality.