Alarming News

September 28, 2004

That’ll teach her to complain.

From BOTW:

Great Moments in Socialized Medicine

A British doctor has killed a critic of the country’s government-run medical system, reports the Sunday Telegraph:

A critic of declining standards in the National Health Service died after being given a large overdose of iron by a hospital doctor who did not read the instructions on the drug’s label properly.

Carys Pugh, 63, a former president of a patients’ association in Wales, was taken to casualty at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital after the blunder turned her skin brown and “saturated” her liver with iron.

While she fought for survival in hospital for seven weeks, Mrs Pugh suffered a heart attack and contracted deep vein thrombosis in both legs, a chest infection and then E.coli. Finally, she suffered a second heart attack that killed her.

Posted by Karol at 01:21 AM |

“Great moments in socialized medicine”
Because private doctors never make mistakes. You’d be hard pushed to find a medical lawsuit in the U.S. courts at the moment I’d bet!

Posted by: Urbane McMeercat at September 28, 2004 at 7:23 am

Yes, I wasn’t sure, are you just pointing out the irony(er, oops bit of a pun)in this story? Or do you genuinely believe Americans are better off than Britains in the healthcare stakes?

Posted by: Steff at September 28, 2004 at 7:33 am

This post was interesting for the irony but yes I would rather pay for healthcare in America than have it for ‘free’ in Europe.

Posted by: Karol at September 28, 2004 at 11:08 am

It goes without saying if you have the money to pay for it – whether in the U.K. or U.S. you would recieve a better level of treatment. I can only talk from personal experience however, and that experience is of friends and relatives recieving a second to zero service from the NHS.Yeah, it’s not perfect, but I imagine you will find that the U.S. service isn’t either.

Posted by: Urbane McMeercat at September 28, 2004 at 12:11 pm

“I would rather pay for healthcare in America than have it for free in Europe”
I don’t know about the rest of Europe, but in Britain, it’s not technically free. Everyone pays out of their paychecks towards the National Insurance (still not sure the exact ins and outs), and most people pay (significantly less than American, pharmaceutical co.inflated prices) for prescriptions. (example: America: cost of asthma inhalers, $30-100 each, depending on insurance; Britain

Posted by: Steff at September 28, 2004 at 2:50 pm

‘I don’t know about the rest of Europe, but in Britain, it’s not technically free.’
I know, that’s why ‘free’ is in quotes.
And, I rather industry control the hospitals than the government.

Posted by: Karol at September 28, 2004 at 3:31 pm

More Great Moments in Socialized Medicine.
NHS in the London announced that there were 300 hours of dentist appointments available for first come first served. When the NHS office opened, the line for appointments was 6 blocks long.
Even More Great Moments in Socialized Medicine.
Word got out that a dentist was opening an office in London (She had been kicked out of the Netherlands for malpractice). 3000 people were waiting in line for an appointment on her first day.
Still More Great Moments in Socialized Medicine.
A person moving to London today has to wait 60 days before they can get on a waiting list to see a doctor.

Posted by: Jake at September 28, 2004 at 3:31 pm

Well, my aunt is by no means rich, she is retired and on a fixed income. When she broke her hip, she was in surgery the next day.
In the UK, there is an eight month wait for hip replacement surgery.
I’m currently unemployed, and had a CAT scan recently. I was scanned 2 days after my Dr. requested it.
In Canada, there is a 4 month wait to have a CAT scan
So clearly, health care several orders of magnitude better than the UK and Canada can be had here in the US by the average person.
Conversely, the very rich in Canada and the UK come to America for their health care. So it is in fact the UK where quality health care is a luxury for the very rich. It’s just that said “luxury” health care happens to be dispensed in American hospitals.

Posted by: Oschisms at September 28, 2004 at 3:56 pm

Are my tax dollars paying for Oschisms’ doctors and CAT scans? He better damn well be voting for Kerry then, or else I want a refund.

Posted by: Dawn Summers at September 28, 2004 at 5:09 pm

“And, I rather industry control the hospitals than the government.”
Hospitals are controlled by Local Trusts – the governments role is funding and making it free at the point of delivery.
Anyway, I stand corrected by some random and exagerrated examples. I shall never believe my own eyes, or experience, again.
One bad thing about government control however is that it somehow becomes opposing parties duty to talk up everything that they can find wrong about the NHS. Always found that a bit insulting towards those who do an amazing job as a matter of course. It’s not perfect, but it’s by no means a crumbling wreck either.

Posted by: Urbane McMeercat at September 28, 2004 at 6:35 pm

It is rotten to have to wait months for a surgery. In my experience (and many others in U.K.), having a life threatening condition did not involve any waiting lists and the standard of care stands up to any. A retired person in the U.S. is often insured; there are many who are not and would end up thousands of dollars in debt very swiftly for even minor hospital care. The priorities of U.S. hospitals are often NOT solely those of the patient. My mom is a nurse and relates many instances where tests are run for those with good insurance that they do not even need (Hospital gets bonuses from Insurers). While an American hospital would not turn away a patient in need, there certainly is preferential treatment involved. Yes the people in the States who have good insurance will get very good care. What about people who can’t/won’t go to ER for that seemingly minor problem, who maybe leave it until it is too late, because they are afraid they can’t pay? How many college students graduate and go immediately into a company that provides quality health insurance? I paid $200 a month for health insurance working for a temp agency in NY and it was beyond poor, my co-pays were still $20, prescriptions barely reduced at all. Should I have busted my ass to get a job that provided better insurance? I’m shocked they don’t offer it as a course at colleges, they really should start clueing students in that career desires are all well and good, but let’s remember we have to get into the system fast, before anything goes wrong.
Socialized medicine is far from perfect, but is also far closer to what healthcare is meant to be about, taking care of people. Not what the insurer says is ok. The doctors in the U.K. see the patient, treat the patient with the best available care. No middleman to say what’s covered, what’s not. No stranglehold collaberation between Pharmaceuticals and Insurers inflating medicine prices a hundred fold. No one goes without here. Doctors make housecalls for godsake, what does that say?

Posted by: Steff at September 29, 2004 at 6:23 am

Of course there is preferential treatment in the States. I never said there wasn’t. Health care is a scarce good. You can ration it 3 ways, by price, by coupon, or by line. (queue or waiting list, if you prefer.) There are no other ways.
If you are indigent in the States and need emergency surgery, you will get it. You won’t have your choice of doctors, and you won’t get it until it is an emergency. If you have insurance, you will get a choice of doctors for both emergency and non emergency surgery, neither of which you will have to wait for. If you are very rich, and can pay cash, you can get the top surgeons in the world to perform your surgery, as the top docs have opted out of the insurance system.
If you are indigent in the UK and need surgery of either type, you may or may not get it in a year’s time. If you are middle class and need surgery of either type, you may or may not get it in a year’s time. If you are very rich, you go to the States for surgery.
Looking at those 2 situations, how does one make the case that rationing health care by queue is more compassionate than rationing it by price?
I know plenty of bartenders, bouncers and other folks without health insurance. They have chosen those jobs because they prefer taking tax-free cash home each week to taking home a much smaller paycheck that is then taxed. They are perfectly aware that health insurance doesn’t come with their job. It is their choice. Why should an office drone like myself, who makes less money than them, be forced to subsidize their choices?
In other words, if health insurance is important to you, if you use a lot of health care services each year, yes, you should have busted your ass to get a better job that provides health insurance. There is nothing wrong, or dirty about earning things that you think are important. There is something wrong with asking other people to pay for the things you think are important.
As to the high prices of drugs in the States, that is a long, other story. It costs billions of dollars to develop a new drug and get it approved. The drug is only patented for seventeen years, a good part of which the drug might spend gaining acceptance among MD’s. If you have a limited amount of time to recoup a multi-billion dollar investment, the per unit price is going to have to be high.
If the government dictates that the drug companies have to sell the drug for a specific price, then the drug companies will stop developing new drugs.
So if you think that all of the useful drugs have already been invented, you’ll support price controls in the pharma industry. If you think that Research and Development in the drug industry is a benefit to society, you won’t.
BTW, if there is a vast conspiracy to inflate drug prices and gain huge profits for the drug industry, one would expect those outsized profits to show in their stock prices. A five year chart plotting the pharmaceutical index versus the S&P 500 shows that they may have higher profits than the average
corporation, but their profits are far from recession proof, dipping and rising along with the S&P 500. If drug companies are making outsized profits, they sure have a funny way of paying them to the owners of the business.

Posted by: Oschisms at September 29, 2004 at 5:47 pm

“Health care is a scarce good”
This is indeed true in America, where many of the people on waiting lists in the UK would simply never receive the treatments they need in the U.S.
“Indigents” in the U.S. end up oweing hospitals thousands of dollars that will likely never be repaid.
In the U.K., the bartenders, waitresses et al. are not being carried by the rest of society, they are on equal footing, paying their fair share from their weekly paychecks (Waitstaff do not subsist on tips here). They are not left out of the loop because they do not work for the right company with the right insurance. Yes, people on government benefits are not contributing their fair share, but this is no different than the Welfare state in America.
No one with any severe or life threatening condition has to wait months on end for surgery. I had three surgeries in as many weeks by a top surgeon flown in each week. I began chemotherapy a week after that. They do not fuck around here if you are really sick, that is a complete lie. Yes it stinks to have a bum hip for months on end. Anyone here can take out private insurance and have private medical treatment if they can not bear to wait. The NHS is not perfect, but the stories of people waiting months for surgeries are not the standard. They are unfortunate exceptions where there is exceedingly high demand for that treatment/surgery in that person’s area. There is definite room for improvement there, but how many of these people awaiting some of the more minor surgeries would even have the opportunity/means in the States?
As for the poor – sorry indigent- pharmaceutical companies trying to recoup their costs…well of course we need new and improved drugs, I would very much like some more cancer killers thank you. But having worked for a major pharmaceutical’s law department, their primary source of financial loss revolves around law suits over high risk drugs like Viagra and various new antidepressants, the drugs with the potential to mass market, not the drugs that many people have a dire need for. Why should I have to recoup the loss of them trying to keep the penis afloat into its 90’s? People with serious illnesses who participate in a drug trial go in to it as a last hope, making them/their families far less likely to sue than the guy who now has a dodgy ticker because he tried to have a marathon session. Do the pharmaceutical companies differentiate this noble debt that they pass on to the consumer? I doubt it.
As for the government regulating the drug costs, is this really much different than the Insurance companies? Do they honestly pick up the full tab of the person who receives free prescriptions, do they pay the same amount as the person without insurance who pays whatever the Pharmaceutical deems full price? As far as I know the U.K. govt. does not dictate to the Drug co.s what their price should be, my understanding was that if there was excess the NHS absorbed the debt. But unlike in America the govt. takes some responsibility for the health of its citizens and contributes government funding towards what it considers a not unfeasible desire: for everyone to have health care. It’s not simple, it’s not perfect, but they haven’t just given up the way the U.S. has.

Posted by: Steff at September 30, 2004 at 9:00 am

The British healthcare system is free on the point of delivery and i do feel that it is the responsibility of the government to provide that VIA TAXATION.
The french system is i believe similar yet is light years ahead of the UK. the waiting list stuff posted on here is unfortunately all to accurate. In france it is not the case.
example. september 2002 my aunt and uncle and their 3 kids move with my maternal gran to a small village south of Limoges near clermont ferrand. the middle cousin was running down a steep concrete hill to he help unpack when she tripped and broke her arm. in 2 hours she was staken to limoges hospital 30 mins away or so, seen by a nurse, seen by a doctor, treated and driven back home again. 2 hours. in UK she would have been lucky to have been seen by a nurse in that time.
the british NHS probs could be solved very easily without having to resort to the US system which from what i know is first class but if you have no money not much use. get the british voter to understand that if you want a decent health system, transport system etc YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR IT!!!!!!!!. for the record i hate tax and National Insurance.

Posted by: Young-white-and-liberal at September 30, 2004 at 11:24 am

They are not left out of the loop because they do not work for the right company with the right insurance
Well, that’s a long way from:
I think in America decent, affordable healthcare has become a luxury.
Isn’t it?
As for Viagra being dangerous:
Almost 200 people around the world have died after taking Viagra, but it has not yet been proven if the drug is directly responsible for the deaths.
And the profits from a successful but nonessential drug like Viagra fund research and development for cancer and AIDS drugs, so your bitterness seems to be misdirected.

Posted by: Oschisms at September 30, 2004 at 12:31 pm

Er, I do think having to work for a company of a certain size/ have a certain type of job to insure your employer provides you with the option of decent insurance is in fact a bit luxurious. You implied under socialized medicine you, the office worker, would be forced to support those freewheeling waiter/bartender types, which is a fallacy as the onus for insurance does not fall upon the employer here, but the individual’s contributions and the government. No one will come trick or treating at your door for health handouts.
The Viagra thing would be debatable, if in ten years time it has not caused more heart attacks/more lawsuits. As for putting valuable time and money into very similiar versions of drugs that already exist, esp. of the happy pill variety, many of which flounder and never make it on to the market, I am dubious.
I would like to believe the research into cancer and AIDS is a top priority, but the fact remains the Pharmaceutical companies don’t give a damn if Africa is extinct in fifty years time. They do everything in their power to stop European companies making generic drugs for AIDS sufferers in China, where the health insurance crisis is worse than in America, making the cost of AIDS drugs there without insurance a death sentence. Africa, well that’s just a joke. What do you mean you don’t have $100 for a pill? Oh, sorry, what a pity for you. These pills cost them pennies to make, it would cost them nothing to allow generics to be given to third world countries, seeing as they are making very little as it is off of Africa. Their patents are worthless, no one there can afford the drugs at their prices, yet they refuse to compromise. So forgive me for not looking upon their miraculous ventures into a more pleasant existence for the bored and sexless with rose tinted glasses.
With regards to taxation in Britain, young anonymous liberal (oh and white sorry), you are right, the rest of Europe pays a significantly bigger amount of their salaries. However, Britain is taxed pretty highly for what we actually receive in comparison with the rest of Europe. Our vacation time is the least by far, less holidays, less midday siestas, etc. Our lifestyle is far more comparable to that of the U.S., we work longer hours and play less. So it makes sense in a way that we do not pay as much as we are not leading that wonderful Swiss/French lifestyle. Maybe when/if Britain joins the Euro and streamlines a bit further people will start more of an outcry for midday picnics; I would be all for it, but until then I think there is a lot of room to manouevre within the NHS. They are streamlining quite a bit at the moment, hopefully many of the changes will be for the benefit of patient services. There is undoubtedly a fair amount of waste that could be allocated better, before we jump to higher taxes.

Posted by: Steff at October 1, 2004 at 6:28 am
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