Thursday, August 2, 2007

Healthcare: How much care is there?

I had some tests done recently, blood work and such; when the results came back I was told I needed to see a specialist. I was sent on my way, with a promise that my doctor’s office would call me with an appointment time. Which they did yesterday and the conversation went something like this:

“Ms. Browne we have an appointment for you, have you got a pen?”
“Yes, shoot.”
"You See Dr. LongnameIcan’tpronounce on March 9th, at 2:15”
‘I’m sorry did you say March 9th?”
I asked a little shrilly.
“Opps, sorry, it is March 13th”

I almost asked her: "Of what year?", but I held my tongue. When I hung up the phone my emotions were swinging from total shock to a festering anger- with a little fear in the mix just to make it more interesting. Whatever is wrong with you, I told myself in calming tones, it can’t be serious- you would be in before next year if it were serious. Right?

All the emotions and worry I was feeling dialed up several degrees when the phone rang again later that evening. My Aunt C. had a cyst removed a week ago today. It made its presence known rather suddenly, and due to its size it needed to come out quickly and be tested. I was home then at the time, and I visited her in the hospital, she was tired and uncomfortable, but she was hanging in there. When I got back to Ontario I called to see how she was doing, she was still nauseated and really warm, but she felt she was doing better. It turns out she wasn’t.

They “nicked the bowel” when they removed the cyst. She is in hospital now, for more testing and surgery. And I can tell you folks, my anger now is a wild animal gnawing away at my insides.

I understand that Doctors are not gods I understand that they can make mistakes. As much as I want to strangle her doctor with his own stethoscope I know human error is rarely the whole story. This is endemic of a long chain of system failures. I can blame the doctor all I want but that won’t help my Aunt, nor will it prevent others form suffering the same way. I know that many doctors in Canada, especially rural Canada, are overworked. They are tired and that makes them prone to making more mistakes. But while I can see how mistakes can happen, it does not excuse it. We need to take a serious look at health care: the whole of it.

I don’t want to see us go the way of the US, with HMOs running the show. Their system only works for those who can afford it. However, what we have here isn’t working well either. This is not a problem that will be solved by throwing more money at it; this is something that can’t be fixed just with cash.

Why are we allowing so many Doctors to graduate and head south? Is there really nothing we can come up with to entice them to stay? Why are we using marks the main prerequisite for getting into medical school? Don’t we know that there is more to taking care of someone than just memorizing symptoms? What happened to quality control within a hospital? How do you open someone up and remove the ovary instead of the cyst? How do you sew someone up without checking for things like a nicked bowel, or sponges left in the abdomen?

I don’t have the answers, I just have a lot of questions. And a million worries.


Shelby said...

I'm still stuck on the March thing!? March? I say call them back and demand an explanation. That seems utterly ridiculous.

but that's just my opinion.

I do hope you are ok. Sending hugs and wishes for a terrific Thursday today :)

Nuclear Mom said...

March? March? Ridiculous. And I am so sorry to hear about your aunt.

You are right, things are not all roses in the US, but HMO's are not very common anymore (or so I hear) because they just don't work. The verdict is still out on the PPO's (more common), though I have no complaint on my insurance or on my ability to see a doctor in a timely manner. (Then again I also, thankfully, don't have any major health problems.)

The US system really fails the working poor. Those people who have jobs that don't provide insurance, but make too much to qualify for govt help. Help is there for the poor through Medicaid and of course, for anyone who has insurance. Of course, prescription meds are a whole other hornets nest...

nadinebc said...


Thanks for your well wishes.

As a side note I think it is really cool you have been researching Newfoundland, what got you started?

If you like you can come by and see my forum:

Feel free to jump on in. You would have to sign up with Delphi first- but don't pay for it. choose the free option.

nadinebc said...

Nuclear Mom, I totally agree. But specialists are so hard to come by up here, they are all down your way! LOL Send one back will ya?

Kara said...

I had a nicked bowel, after a c-section I didn't even want. How's your aunt doing?

Kara said...

BTW I totally agree with nucear mom. It isn't the poor (as in destitute) who are failed by the US system, it is the working poor (and I'd say the middle class too, if you don't have inurance). You basically have to become destitute.

Anonymous said...

The United States' healthcare isn't terrible--you just have to actually try. We have great insurance at the low price of $250 a month. Sure we don't get to buy super fancy clothes, cars, season tickets, or things like that, but what's more important? Don't bag on the US because the media is--the percentage of the people that don't have insurance CAN afford it, they just choose not to. We aren't entitled to everything--now somebody just needs to tell that to crazy Hillary.