Errors

I have been marking exams and writing Year 11 report comments almost non-stop, but I saw something in the news that I thought would be helpful to those of you looking forward to healthcare in the Obamanation.

The Liberal Democrats, our third largest political party, have published data showing that patient deaths due to errors by medical staff have increased by 60% over the last two years. There are two ways of seeing everything of course. As you might imagine, Government experts see it that other way. They say the higher figures are due to better reporting rather than worsening care.

No one outside the governing Labour Party is actually buying that argument, but even Labour’s excuse is frightening. It means either more people are dying, or the National Health Service has heretofore been hiding the true cause of a huge number of deaths under the rug. Given that they have shoved more up there than we ever want to know, it would not be surprising.

And speaking of shoving things, after my dad had surgery for asymptomatic Stage 3 colon cancer, the doctors at MD Anderson suggested that especially since I already had the kind of polyps removed that were benign but could turn cancerous nearly three years ago, I should let my doctor know so I could have another colonoscopy ahead of my scheduled scoping in 2011 (only scheduled because I had the polyps, because the NHS does not allow for any preventative colonoscopies at any age). My GP contacted my specialist with my concerns and I was flatly turned down. I hope I don’t turn out to be another “error”.

Prioritised to Death

One of the nice things about socialised medicine is that it is reasonably easy to see a GP. You generally have to start calling at 8:00 am to get an appointment for that day, but they also run emergency appointments and will squeeze you in. However, when you need to see somebody other than a GP, your mileage, as they say, may vary.

I was fortunate in 2003 when I was rushed to the GP who decided that I needed to go to the hospital immediately. He called an ambulance and I was taken straight in, given morphine and stablised. They couldn’t figure out what was actually wrong with me, so after an overnight stay they scheduled me to come back in ten months to have a specialist look at me.

Stewart Fleming wasn’t so lucky. His GP gave him a note to take to the hospital saying he must be treated immediately. He was admitted after waiting six hours in A&E. By then it was too late. It took two weeks for him to die, but he could have been saved if the hospital had simple followed the GP’s instructions. He just wasn’t a high enough priority.

The Future of Health Care in the Obamanation

For those of you looking forward to the Obama promise of socialised medicine, read the article in today’s Sunday Telegraph, “Standards at UK children’s hospital ‘worse than in developing world‘”.