Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Oh yeah . . .

It may well be that I never did quite finish the story of my own experience of major surgery. It was a long time ago - February 1991, while George Bush the First was carpet bombing the retreating Iraqi army. But it's astonishing how little has changed since then. The basic problems I encountered -- cost shifting, overpaid specialists, lack of accountability (the physicians and hospitals billed me for the cost of their own mistakes, which is still the normal practice), underinsurance, overtreatment (they get paid to do stuff, after all), cultural incompetence (the treatment of my Russian roommate was appalling), the organization of the hospital around the convenience of staff rather than the comfort and recovery of patients, poor sanitary practices, nosocomial infection, reflexive lying to patients about medical errors, overworked nurses . . .

I could go on. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act actually begins to address some of these problems, and some important movements within the medical profession are beginning to address others. But here we are, nearly 20 years later, just beginning. Perhaps it is time for me to revisit the saga for the exercise of seeing exactly what is the same and what is different; and along the way, to consider why change has been so difficult to achieve.

Also along the way, I hope readers will weigh in about some of their own experiences, past and recent. This seems timely.

6 comments:

C. Corax said...

Okay, so I'm not nuts. I wondered how I could have missed the ending of the story, but if you didn't actually post it.

It seems to me that if Republicans and the occasional doc is all worked up about medical malpractice lawsuits, then they bloody well shouldn't charge patients for their screw-ups. That's the quickest route to getting themselves sued. I'm surprised you weren't pursued by collection agencies for rightly telling the hospital to eff off.

roger said...

my own recent experience of losing parts of my colon went very well. of course, i don't REALLY know that the biopsy was done correctly, or that pieces were actually removed. i have seen no proof. i do have a humongous scar. nonetheless i am recovering well and had what seemed to me good care. i don't yet have bills for surgery or anesthesia or the other myriad things.

robin andrea said...

Roger's recent experience and week-long stay in the hospital gave me a sense of relief that there really are thoughtful, compassionate, and smart caregivers. The doctors, nurses, and staff were attentive and reliable. When we did have to hunt someone down for some immediate attention, they followed through every time.

OTOH, I just was misdiagnosed by the physician assistant at my doc's office, and will have to pay for the unnecessary lab test and antibiotics. She made a judgment call, which I knew was wrong but didn't say anything. Me, with my big mouth, was silenced by the PA's assertion that she knew exactly what was going on. Oh well.

Cervantes said...

What is essential about my story is not whether the surgeon did everything right or not. There will always be screw-ups. Of course, in Roger's case there was ample time to make a careful diagnosis and plan and prepare for surgery. Nowadays they're pretty good at dealing with colo-rectal carcinoma.

Since it was all so long ago I can't just finish the series. I'll have to start over with a different organizational scheme. Monday will be the day.

technician schools said...

I think it's unfair to charge your own mistakes to your patients. Proper treatment should be observed and monitored.

roger said...

i have noticed that the "nominal" charge for the colonoscopy was somewhere over $2000. the "assigned" charge was more like $500, of which i paid a bit over $100, medicare paying the balance.

that is evidence of some wacky system.