Saturday, March 14, 2009

Shocker! Uninsured not jamming emergency rooms

1st major study contradicts conventional assumptions and shows that it is those "insured" by the government who have no place else to go

Hospital emergency rooms are overcrowded because uninsured patients have nowhere else to turn. Right? Wrong, says a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Hospital emergency rooms are, indeed, jammed. But it's not for the reason proponents of nationalized health care suggest.

The study, "Uninsured Adults Presenting to U.S. Emergency Departments: Assumptions vs. Data," found most emergency rooms are packed because more patients of all kinds – insured and uninsured alike – are choosing to visit them. Further, the study found, emergency room patients are being kept there longer than necessary when they should often be checked in or treated in a doctor's office. "This is a larger problem, and the emergency room is the canary in the coal mine," explained Carla Keirns, a contributor to the study.

In conducting the first study of its kind, researchers discovered other scholarly papers on the uninsured found that most simply assumed the uninsured are the principal cause of emergency room overcrowding. In fact, Devon Hetrick, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, blamed those carrying government insurance for much of the overcrowding of emergency rooms.

"It's not the uninsured who burden America's emergency rooms so much as it is people who are carrying government insurance policies," he said. "The low reimbursement rates offered doctors by government programs means very few will accept taxpayer-funded insurance any more, leaving those on government plans to visit ERs for care instead of primary-care physicians."


1,000 British villagers wait for a dentist after just one NHS practice opens

The parlous state of NHS dentistry under Labour was exposed last night after it was revealed 1,000 people in a village ended up on a waiting list for a dentist. Nearly one in ten of the 11,500-strong population of Tadley were forced to wait after a single NHS practice opened in the Hampshire village. Their alternatives were paying privately, travelling miles to another NHS dentist - or going without treatment. Local councillor Nigel Quelch said: 'When I phoned, they said they had a waiting list of 1,000. It shows what a huge demand there is for Health Service dentistry. 'But we're very grateful to the dentist for opening in Tadley.'

In 1999, Tony Blair promised that within two years everyone would have access to an NHS dentist. Eight years later he admitted failure. A new contract, introduced three years ago to increase numbers of NHS dentists, has also been judged to have made the situation worse - with 1,000 dentists fleeing the NHS. It means the remaining NHS dentists are overwhelmed and can't take new patients - as the Tadley case shows.

LibDem health spokesman Norman Lamb said: 'We cannot continue with a postcode lottery where people like the Tadley residents can't have access to NHS dentistry.' Hampshire primary care trust confirmed the list had hit 1,000 in December but has since been cleared. It said the practice now has 7,000 patients and can't take more - meaning over 4,000 have no dentist in the village.


Australian government hospital fires whistleblowing doctor

Outspoken Upper Ferntree Gully doctor Peter Lazzari, a strident critic of the health system, says he was sacked today for no apparent reason. The consultant physician, an employee of the Angliss Hospital for the past 13 years, told Knox Leader he was given his marching orders earlier today and was given no reason for his dismissal.

But he had no doubt it was because of his stinging criticism of Eastern Health and the State Government.

He recently made a submission to the Upper House Parliamentary Inquiry into Public Health Data calling for tougher penalties for hospitals that fudge waiting list times.

He said bonuses for hospitals should be scrapped and negligent health executives hauled before the courts to fix the state's health system.

He is understood to be seeking legal advice following his dismissal.

Eastern Health has yet to comment.


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