Wednesday, May 19, 2010

If You Love Obamacare, You'll Hate This Story

If there’s anything at all we know about the forthcoming tsunami of Obamacare, it’s that it’s going to completely wreck the finest medical care system in the world. We’re starting to see the fallout already. Here’s just a sample:

a. The “I want therefore I deserve” class turning up at doctors’ offices the day after the law was signed looking for their “free care.”

b. CBO numbers, available but ignored before the law was signed, now trickling out to tell us that the rationale of Obamacare making things less expensive and more efficient is basically, well . . . a lie. It's actually going to be massively more expensive than the administration’s spin led us to believe.

We already know how this goes – look at the UK, where complete and utter medical incompetence captains the grand ship National Health Care.

Here’s another case that illustrates what you get in a system that focuses on bureaurocracy, union rules, and the concomitant disregard for the welfare of patients.

Five years ago in the UK, 35-year-old Cindy Corton went to a party. Drank way too much. Fell in the bathroom, landing on the upright handle of the toilet plunger. About 6 inches of the serrated plastic plunger handle snapped off in her buttocks. Friends called an ambulance.

Enter the National Health Care system. You know, the one some many Obamacare acolytes point to as how we might “improve.”

Cindy’s fairly minor injury should have ended as a stupid-drunk-tricks story with the added wink-and-nod about the site of the injury.

Instead, it was her death sentence.

The ambulance took Cindy to the Lincoln County Hospital. They were apparently none too happy at having to transport some drunk who fell in a bathroom. (I guess it's only sober people who can get hurt falling in bathrooms).

That set the ball in motion among caregivers’ attitudes towards Cindy, because none believed her story. At Lincoln, after explaining what had happened, she was “examined” and sent home with some painkillers.

Yes, you read right. Sent home with a 6-inch serrated plastic handle still inside her, but hey, at least she got something for the pain:

Husband Peter, 61, said that when his wife first attended A&E at Lincoln County Hospital she was sent home with painkillers, despite showing them the wound on her bottom. . . . "She wasn't properly examined by the doctor at Lincoln.”

Unsurprisingly, Cindy’s injury got worse, so several days later she went to a different hospital, Grantham, in the hopes that someone would take her story seriously.

They did. Kind of.

At Grantham she was actually x-rayed (imagine that!). However, the x-ray turned up nothing.

Problem solved. Home she went with her embedded plunger handle.

Fast-forward two years, to 2007.

Cindy still has the handle in her buttocks, and is finally able to convince a doctor to take a closer look.

Hey presto!! Still there!!

Now it’s more complicated: The handle has migrated and embedded itself in her pelvis.

No more funny drunk story.

Cindi undergoes two unsuccessful operations and is left in intense pain to the extent that she agrees to another risky operation in June last year.

Outcome?

Cindy of Sleaford, Lincs, spent more than ten hours in surgery at Nottingham's Queens Medical Centre but died from massive blood loss.

Can medical mistakes happen? Sure, no profession’s perfect.

This went way beyond mistakes. It smacks of incompetence, arrogance, and a failure to attend to duty that is, at the very least, unconscionable. Paramedics who treat drunks differently, hospitals that apparently can’t do some very basic procedures, and certainly doctors who for years didn’t even bother to investigate properly.

I can even give the doctors the benefit of the doubt (barely) for the initial admission, that Cindy in her inebriated state might have been embarrassed and made up the story.

But not even check? Or check later when she turns up sober with the same story?

I submit that the chances of this story happening in a US hospital is near zero.

At least for now.

Maybe coming soon to an Obamacare-run hospital near you.



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