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Sep 17, 2010

Annals of Government Medicine

Professor:  Finally, we will implement an equitable health system for all.
Mike:  Finally? Does that mean you have tried before?

Professor:  There are attempts in other countries.
Mike:  Attempts? How have they worked out?

Professor :  They have some problems, but we will do much better.
Mike:  So, you have already implemented something better?

Professor:  No, but we have a deep literature of theory to support the experimental trials and committees which we have specified.
Mike:  Experimental?

Professor:  Well, yes. If it doesn't work at first, we will keep trying.


John Hinderaker at →Power Line has put up many posts under the title Annals of Government Medicine. These are stories of health care failures mostly within the National Health Service in Britian. Ironically and tragically, the NHS is presented by Team Obama as an example for all of us to follow in "reforming" the US healthcare system.

These posts present a strong argument by example that government should not be managing healthcare. All of our lives are at stake.

PowerLine provides a search link to access these articles. I present these links below with summaries, ordered by newest to oldest. There is much useful commentary by Hinderaker at the links. Click on the date.


02/27/11NHS Refuses Drugs to Cancer Patients

The British NHS has refused cancer drugs to more than 80 desperately sick cancer patients. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) had decided the treatments were not cost effective. This occurred in the four months after a £200 million fund was introduced to stop health authorities from rationing treatments.

02/14/11Death Panel Neglect

Doctors and nurses gave pensioners appalling treatment, denying half of them enough to eat or drink. One family member said it amounted to euthanasia. Several patients died without loved ones by their sides because of the staff's casual indifference and bewildering disregard for people's needs.

The Ombudsman warned that the described cases were not exceptional.

02/01/11Neglected and starving mental patients freeze

26 patients died when temperatures in Cuba dropped to 39 °F on 01/09/10.

Hospital employees explained that the patients were undernourished and had no blankets, because food and supplies had been stolen by hospital workers.

Official records showed delivery of food for 2,458 patients, to feed 1,484 patients. Yet, a review found malnutrition, anemia, and vitamin deficiencies.

12/29/10Man's penis amputated following misdiagnosis

A man in his sixties went to a local clinic in Blekinge, Sweden in September 2009. His complaints were diagnosed as a urinary tract infection. Six months later there was irritation of the foreskin. He had to wait five more months to be seen at Blekinge Hospital.

AMG:  Socialized medicine minimizes resources and delays treatment. Many problems resolve during the wait. Others don't.

09/17/10Much less equipment available in UK vs US.

Comparing British medical equipment and procedures to the US, per capita. CT scanners 1/4th, MRI scanners 1/3rd, coronary-bypass surgery and angioplasty 1/4th, hip replacements 2/3rds. Dialysis or transplant for treating kidney failure, for patients 45-84 is 1/5th, for patients 85+ is 1/9th.

08/04/10In Sweden, a man waits, waits, then sews up his leg.

A man aged 32 sliced his leg on the sharp edge of a kitchen stove while renovating. "I went to the health clinic, but it was closed. The medical help line told me that it shouldn't be closed, so I went to emergency and sat there." Tired of waiting, he sewed up his leg himself. The hospital staff called the police, charging him with "having used hospital equipment without authorization."

07/31/10Dying woman could not get the attention of doctors.

A desperate woman phoned photos of herself to her mum as she lay suffering and slowly DYING on a hospital bed. The poor woman knew she was desperately ill, but couldn't convince her doctors and nurses to pay attention.

07/28/10Britons demand decentralization of NHS.

The National Health System plans to decentralize control in response to publick revulsion at rising costs and lousy health care. A relatively junior cardiac surgeon was appointed to raise patient numbers at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. He was left to cope on his own, and complained about old equipment and poor working practices at the children's cardiac unit. He was ignored until four babies died.

07/18/10Saving money by not buying equipment and supplies.

A cash crisis in the NHS has left patients lying on the operating table as doctors realised vital equipment had not been ordered. Women in labour have waited while epidural equipment was borrowed from other hospitals. Other patients have been denied chest drains and radiology supplies,

04/29/10Berwick embraces rationing of care.

Obama has appointed Dr. Donald Berwick to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Berwick believes that Washington should run health care and that the bureaucracy should exercise a strong degree of control over questions of life and death. Berwick is completely up-front about this: "The decision is not whether or not we will ration care, but whether we will ration with our eyes open."

04/18/10Pay for any of your own care and lose public access.

Jenny Whitehead paid £250 for an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon rather than wait five months to see him on the NHS. The surgeon wanted to add her to his NHS waiting list for surgery to treat a spinal cyst. However, the NHS barred her and sent her back to her GP to start over. Department of Health officials admit it is official policy to withdraw care from patients who go private.

03/26/10Layoff hospital workers and reduce services.

Secret plans to save £20 billion would eliminate tens of thousands of NHS workers. The sick would be urged to stay at home and email doctors rather than visit surgeries. Procedures such as hip replacements could be scrapped. Cutting £2 billion in the East region, the SHA proposes shifting services out of hospitals. Social workers would deliver some treatments.

03/21/10Downgrading emergency response.

The most senior ambulance officials made a cost-saving decision which may have cost hundreds of lives. They altered the computer program used by most control centres to prioritise emergency calls. For years, calls to 999 in life-threatening situations were accidentally "downgraded" and call handlers were told not to send the most urgent response.

03/06/10Dangerous heart surgery.

The UK's most senior heart surgeon warned in 2003 that half of Britain's heart surgery units should be closed as substandard. The Government did nothing.

03/05/10Shutting wards to save money, despite promises.

The UK government asked NHS to shut hundreds of NHS wards to save money due to the recession. The rolling programme of cuts contrasts sharply with assurances from Labour and the Tories that the NHS was "safe".

02/24/10400 deaths linked to poor care at yet another hospital.

Patients were routinely neglected or left "sobbing and humiliated" where at least 400 deaths have been linked to appalling care. Managers at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust were preoccupied with cutting costs to meet government targets.

11/26/09Poor care and filth kill 400 patients.

Poor nursing care, filthy wards, and lack of leadership at Basildon and Thurrock University NHS Hospitals Foundation Trust led to the deaths of up to 400 patients a year.

09/28/09Waiting 2 1/2 years for surgery.

Christina Woodkey waited a year to see a hip specialist, who said she would need a back specialist, then would wait 18 more months for any surgery. She opted out, paying for surgery in the US in two days.

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