Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ready for rationing?

By John Shadegg

Are you ready for health care rationing? Are you ready to be told what treatments, medicines, and procedures you can or cannot have? Because rationing may be coming soon to your doctor's office or a hospital near you.

Last week, Obama economic advisor, Larry Summers, expressed Democrats' desire for "changing the way in which we deliver health care in this country.[W]hether it's tonsillectomies or doing the right kind of cost-effectiveness.some experts estimate that we could take as much as $700 billion a year out of our health care system."

Do you really trust the same government that can't oversee AIG, run a hurricane recovery effort, or balance its budget to decide which drugs, procedures, or operations are cost-effective for the American people?

In the stimulus bill, Democrats already passed $1.1 billion in so-called "comparative effectiveness research." While this language sounds innocuous, it is actually quite dangerous. Here's how David Obey, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, explained it in the committee's own report: "those items, procedures, and interventions. that are found to be less effective and in some cases, more expensive, will no longer be prescribed" [emphasis added].

President Obama even hinted at this ominous future in a recent interview with the New York Times, noting that, "the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here.there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place." In other words, he is saying you and your doctor will no longer make the call, government will.

This is already happening in the United Kingdom, where the national health care board recently confirmed a ban on three of four life-prolonging drugs for its kidney cancer patients. Now, roughly half of those diagnosed with this cancer will not be eligible for the medical care they need.

Is it any wonder that Americans are 14% more likely to survive breast cancer, 35% more likely to survive colon cancer, and almost twice as likely to survive prostate cancer than their British counterparts?

If Washington follows Tom Daschle's suggestion to create a federal health care planning board that "exert[s] tremendous influence on every . . . provider and payer," we could face the same denial of treatment-and it will be us and our loved ones who will lose our health care freedom.

Are you ready for government health care? Are you ready for rationing?


Britain: A real medical hero who did what officialdom couldn't

It's a wonder that Britain's notorious health and safety bureaucracy have not prosecuted him for using an unapproved device. They would certainly have prohibited him from using it had they got wind of it in advance

There was little hope that Millie Kelly would live beyond a few weeks. Life-saving surgery on her tiny body had caused her kidneys to fail and she was too small for the hospital's dialysis equipment. But Millie was not fighting her battle to stay alive alone. Her hospital consultant, touched by her plight, went home to his garage and built a miniature dialysis machine from scratch.

After a fortnight attached to the DIY machine Millie started to show signs of improvement and is now, two years later, a fit and healthy toddler. Her consultant, paediatrician Malcolm Coulthard, is hoping a refined version of the machine he cobbled together in his garage will soon be introduced across the NHS to help other children in Millie's predicament.

She was born with gastroschisis in which the bowels develop outside the body. During surgery to return the organs to her abdomen at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle upon Tyne her kidneys began to fail. Without them to cleanse her blood - a process called haemodialysis - she needed a dialysis machine. However, at just over 6lb, she was too small, even for the machines designed for use on children.

'I was devastated when they said she wouldn't make it,' said Millie's mother Rebecca, 21, a student from Middlesbrough. 'We thought there was no hope and that every hour she had was a bonus. So when we heard that people at the hospital were working on a new machine we had no option but to try it. It was the only hope. 'It looked handmade and there were a few paint splodges on it but I thought, if it will save my baby's life, I have to try it.

Millie is now a picture of health thanks to Dr Coulthard, pictured here with his homemade dialysis machine that helped save his young patient's life 'Millie's kidneys weren't working at all but after 15 days on the machine she started to improve. If it were not for that machine then Millie would not be here today. She is a really lovely child.' The device meant Millie's kidneys had a chance to recover and she no longer needs any form of dialysis.

Miss Kelly added: 'Words cannot describe how grateful my family is to Dr Coulthard. 'We owe her life to him. If I won the lottery I would give it all to him, we can't thank him enough. Not only is he a great consultant but now also a great friend.'

Dr Coulthard developed his idea with senior children's kidney nurse Jean Crosier and hopes to make a new version of the machine widely available on the NHS. 'At present we will only use the pilot machine on babies where it is certain that if we don't use it they will die,' he said. He added that with a 'state-of-the-art device' which has been given a European safety or CE mark, 'we will be able to ensure that any child can benefit and it becomes the treatment of choice for any baby that needs dialysis'. A team at Newcastle's regional medical physics department is developing the new machine.

One in 7,000 births is affected by gastroschisis, in which the baby develops a hole in the abdominal wall while still in the womb. Dr Coulthard's work has been recognised with the Special Award for Sustained Endeavour at the North-East's Bright Ideas and Health Awards.


Australia: Government mental hospital staff try to cover up dangerous negligence with a pack of lies

And they are so arrogant that they offer the whistleblower "counselling"

A MENTALLY ill man in the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital was "accidentally" released only hours before threatening a neighbour with a knife. The man's daughter said yesterday she was still awaiting a reply to her formal complaint about how her father was able to abscond on March 17 and how hospital staff misled her about his disappearance.

The western suburbs man, who suffers from bipolar disorder, was able to leave the RBWH's mental health unit by telling staff his daughter was waiting downstairs to take him on approved leave. He had been admitted under an involuntary treatment order two weeks earlier after suffering a psychotic episode and threatening to kill neighbours and himself.

The young woman said the hospital had contacted her the previous day to ask if she could supervise him for three hours' leave, but she had refused. "My father later told them I was waiting for him in a cab and they just buzzed him out," she said.

After another family member told her that her father was out of hospital, the woman called the mental health unit. "They told me he hadn't been released and that he was 'Here on the ward as we speak'," she said. "I thought, 'That's weird', and so I rang home and Dad picked up the phone. I then rang the hospital back to ask what's going on and was told 'His daughter picked him up'.

"When a patient is released to someone's care, that person has to be sighted, ID checked, and there is paperwork to be signed. But I never went to the hospital that day. "Then they said it was his sister who signed him out, but all of his relatives live in England except for me and his brother."

The woman arrived at her father's home just before police detained him for threatening a neighbour with a knife.

RBWH's acting mental health director, Dr Warren Ward, said Queensland Health was unable to comment on specific patients. "Risk assessments occur regularly to ascertain levels of restrictions and leave ," he said.

The man's daughter said she had an "emergency meeting" with RBWH staff the next day, but had not had a reply to her written complaint. At the meeting she had been offered counselling. "I'm very concerned at how easily someone can walk out of a secure mental health unit," she said.


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