This is an experience of Jeffrey St. Clair and I share it with my readers because it is similar to the hoops that Sue is having to jump through in her bout with aggressive skin cancer…..
I’ve spent much of the last week experiencing firsthand the mystifying (and at times terrifying) labyrinths of the US health care system, helping tend to a close relative who has gone from a trauma ward to a rehabilitation hospital, accumulating an ever-expanding retinue of nurses, doctors, technicians and billing agents along the way. The torments of treatment have been nothing compared to the mental pain and anguish inflicted by System itself, where each medical decision is vetted by some actuarial table in some far-off city, where doctors come and go according to the contractual dictates of their corporate employers, where movement between facilities, even in emergencies, is delayed until an affiliated ambulance service can be located (in one instance by more than two hours as an ambulance was dispatched from Lafayette to move the patient a few blocks between two hospitals sixty miles to the south in Indianapolis.) Treatment is routinely withheld until the paperwork is completed, often in duplicate. The walls of the exam rooms for one of the surgeons were adorned with kitschy paintings of Jesus guiding the scalpel. Not sure how that message is received by his Muslim and Jewish patients, if he has any…
The hospitals themselves are under-staffed and overbooked. The operation directive seems to be to move patients in and out as fast as possible, in a kind of assembly line form of medicine, where the hospital beds themselves are objects of commerce. Triage is a price equation, even under the current Medicare system.
The rehab hospitals follow the dictates of the insurance companies and Medicare and arbitrarily discharge patients after they hit the limit of 14-days, regardless of the amount of progress they’ve made toward regaining the ability to function in a domestic environment. If there’s no one to care for them at home, they’re often dumped into nursing homes, spiritual and medical wastelands, where many, especially elderly patients, after having exhausted their bank accounts, simply surrender all will to live. Perhaps as a symbol of the dissonances and lethal contradictions of our crumbling health care system, the hospital where my relative is being treated is located adjacent to a gun shop and firing range.
(Jeffrey St. Clair)
Our health system is an assembly line….run patients in bill heavily and throw them out….like I keep saying billing is more important that patient care….
Not to worry this will get worse before it gets better (if ever)…..M4A would solve some of these problems but not worry about that for the health industry will spend billions to see that Americans do NOT get adequate health care.
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