Health Care

Let us look at American “health care” as an example of our Response-Ability

Illness and dis-ease are part of being human. Mistakes were made in the past and will be made in the future and if “To Err Is Human” then let’s admit our mistakes and instead of justifying them let us take care of them.

According to the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine as many as 98,000 Americans die every year as a result of medical errors. However, Dr. Corrigan, an editor of the report said that even this number was an underestimate…

because not all adverse events were recognised or reported and because the report focused only on inpatients and not on nursing homes and other healthcare settings.[4]

According to several research studies in the last decade, a total of 225,000 Americans per year have died as a result of their medical treatments:

  • 106,000 deaths per year due to negative effects of drugs
  • 80,000 deaths per year due to infections in hospitals
  • 20,000 deaths per year due to other errors in hospitals
  • 12,000 deaths per year due to unnecessary surgery
  • 7,000 deaths per year due to medication errors in hospitals[5]

And how big is the number if we include those who are suffering because of medical errors but who are still alive? Is there an unwholesome and wholesome way of taking care of these mistakes. I believe so and I don’t think we should limit the debate because someone suggested that good and bad are inseparable and that all truth is relative and a matter of opinion.

Let us look at health care and caring for someone whose wrong leg has been amputated because of a medical error.

The division of unwholesome and wholesome frames presented for each topic throughout this website is to contrast the pros and cons of wholesome and unwholesome choices.

Unwholesome Frame

To Err Is Human

The National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine report entitled “To Err Is Human,” which claimed that between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die every year as a result of medical errors… outlined a series of recommendations…

[6][http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=physician-heal-thyself]

Healthcare providers would be required to inform state governments of any medical errors leading to serious harm; currently only 20 states have such reporting requirements.

Nancy Dickey, a past president of the American Medical Association, which supports the panel’s recommendations, was concerned about mandatory reporting and public disclosure of serious medical errors.

Dr. Dickey said: “On the surface it appears to be a relatively straightforward step but actually it engenders all sorts of problems with confidentiality and liability.”

[7][http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/319/7224/1519]

June 19, 2008

Wrong Leg Amputated? Massachusetts Won’t Pay, But You Will

In the interest of “protecting patient safety,” the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services has selected 28 “serious reportable events” that it will not pay for or allow hospitals to bill them for. These include surgery on the wrong body part or patient, performance of the wrong surgery, retention of a foreign object after surgery, and even death! Other nonpayable events include discharging an infant to the wrong person, patient suicide, disability stemming from medication errors, and more.

To sum up, those of us with private insurance could feasibly get the wrong leg cut off and still have to foot (har har) the bill, but the state insured can relax in the knowledge that nobody will get paid if their surgery is botched.

[8][Kerry Skemp in News – http://bostonist.com/2008/06/19/massachusetts-health-care-doesnt-pay.php]

Wholesome Frame

“Privateering” should not be the center of the health care issue

First, let us distinguish between health care and health insurance. Health insurance companies make their money by denying health care: either refusing to insure people with preconditions, turning down recommended procedures, or limiting the amount to be paid out for some condition…

This is the opposite of the way most markets work. In a typical market, companies that provide more of their product tend to make more money. In health insurance, the product is health care. But the more care an insurance company provides, the less profit it makes. In a normal market, greater competition helps consumers. But with health insurance, competition is competition for profits, not for delivering care. Greater competition for profits thus means competition to deliver less care, which harms consumers. Health insurance is thus an anti-market phenomenon.

Second, health insurance greatly adds to the cost of care. While Medicare has administrative costs of 3 percent, HMOs [Health Maintenance Organizations] have administrative costs of about 25 percent. Most of that money is spent on determining ways to deny care. On top of that, HMOs make a considerable profit, so that administrative costs plus profit amount to more than it would take to insure everyone under a Medicare-for-all or single-payer plan.

Third, health care falls under the moral mission of the government to protect its citizens from the ravages of disease, or injury, or the natural decay of the body as one ages. Sooner or later all our citizens will need health care.

Other forms of protection for the public do not require insurance. The police don’t ask whether you have insurance and are up on your premiums when a burglar breaks into your house, nor does the fire department when your house catches fire. Basic protection is, or should be, a function of government, and that includes health security.

But conservatives favor privateering—eliminating the capacity of government to provide health security through Medicare and then placing health care in the hands of insurance companies whose main mission is making money and who make their money by denying care.

Here government functioning is prevented … [by privateering enablers] from doing its job, and private companies make lots of profit as a result, often on government contracts. (Lakoff, 2008, p.????)

Minds, Hearts & Souls Working Together

I disagree with both Heraclitus and Lao Tzu, who

likewise taught that dark and light, yin and yang, are intertwined, and the ego’s attempt to treat them separately, or favor one over the other, is the source of error and conflict.[Unified Reality Theory?10]

I believe that to favour one over the other can be the sensible wholesome right thing to do. I also disagree that

there’s nothing that exists which shouldn’t exit. (Kaufman, 2001, p. 357)

In the here and now, I agree, we cannot be other than we are and our conditions cannot be other than what they are—but that only holds for this present moment. Opportunity for change is already possible in the next moment if we are willing to realize change.

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