American health care rant...

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American health care rant...

Postby brandtrn » Fri Aug 17, 2007 2:13 pm

Well, it's that time of the week again...I'll be headed back to work in an hour or so for Heaven knows WHAT kind of insanity this time. **sigh** We'll see!

Believe it or not, I'm ALREADY in the mood for a rant today, although I've not yet stepped one foot inside the hospital! I suppose the "not knowing" what crap I'm going to get into has got my anxiety level running high. Also, I'm angry...the failure of the health-care system in this country has got my hospital making "budget cuts" left and right. Positions are frequently being eliminated, and nobody seems to know who might be next! One of the latest cuts was that of our Staff Development Coordinator -- a nurse who was not too many years away from retirement and collecting her pension, and she's now in search of employment outside the hospital where she's worked her entire life! Go figure...

These "budget cuts" wouldn't BE so urgent in the hospital if health care services OUTSIDE the hospital were a bit more accessible to all than they currently are. I've lost count of all the patients I've cared for who've ended up needing critical care nursing services for no other reason than that THEY COULDN'T AFFORD THEIR MEDICATIONS! Hey, people, I understand that there's no such thing as a "free ride" anybody...but shouldn't medications that a person needs to keep him/herself ALIVE be accessible to all?? I've lost count of the Type I diabetics I've cared for who couldn't afford their insulin, who ended up in the ER and later admitted to my unit for diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition! Similarly, I've lost count of the seniors who had to decide between buying their medications or putting a meager amount of food on their tables, and after living for a few months without their meds, ended up with a permanently disabling stroke or heart attack! In a wealthy nation like ours which has the best hospitals and doctors in the world, it is positively shameful and scandalous that these services are so inaccessible to so many! Our entire health-care system is in need of a major overhaul, and soon!

The lack of health-care insurance for so many Americans is a national disgrace! So many Americans working in low-income jobs, not only DON'T get insurance through their employers, but can't qualify for Medicaid assistance, because they make "too much money." Never mind the fact that these people struggle, month after month, to put a roof over their heads and to feed their children! They STILL can't get help...and so, when such people get a minor infection, they'll put off a visit to the Doc -- hey, the Doc won't even SEE them if he/she doesn't know how he/she is going to be paid! So, they'll put it off and put it off, hoping that the problem will resolve itself, and it many cases, it does. Unfortunately, there are too many cases in which it DOESN'T -- and the individual, who started with a minor bladder or respiratory infection, now requires hospitalization on a critical-care unit for sepsis (a life-threatening condition where the infection has managed to make it into the patient's bloodstream)! The ER CAN'T turn the patient away, as the Doc's office can...the ER is required by law to see and to treat EVERYONE who comes in for help!

Honestly, WHY are low-income people forced into a life-threatening emergency situation before they can get ANY kind of help whatsoever? As difficult as jobs are to find in this day and age, a prolonged hospital stay (combined with the necessary recovery time at home) will very likely ensure that the person affected ends up without a job, and with an astronomical hospital bill that he/she has no hope of paying whatsoever! The person will be forced into bankruptcy, and the hospital forced into "eating" the costs of their care, driving up health-care and insurance costs for all of us! Is it not possible that we could, in the good old US of A, ensure that PREVENTIVE health-care services are available to EVERYBODY, regardless of their ability to pay? This would eliminate many unnecessary hospitalizations, much suffering and disability, and would ultimately lower health-care costs for all of us. Sure, it WOULD result in an increase in taxes, but more than likely, it would also result in a lowering of health insurance premiums, because we'd be ultimately cutting costs by treating these people on an outpatient basis, BEFORE their conditions deteriorated into a life-threatening state where hospitalization becomes necessary. We'd probably also be cutting down on the expense of life-long care required by many who end up totally disabled as a result of a treatable condition. As I said earlier, this entire situation just gripes my ass...and you can bet that I'll be further angered tonight, when once again, I'll be struggling to save the life of a person who was FORCED into their life-threatening, potentially disabling condition merely because they couldn't afford to see a Doc or to buy their meds. In a wealthy country like this, such situations are completely inexcusable, scandalous, and reprehensible.
"The government is merely a servant -- merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them." -- Mark Twain
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