Monday, July 27, 2009

Australia: More public hospital negligence

Would YOU like to be the one being operated on in such circumstances? Where warnings were ignored, equipment wasn't working and personnel had no previous experience in the procedure? That could be coming to you too under Obamacare

A DOCTOR whose patient died after a common throat operation says he "neglected to go through the paperwork" and failed to heed warnings from a nurse to delay the procedure. The comments came yesterday during an inquest into the 2007 death of popular Emerald grandmother Yvonne Davidson, who died at Rockhampton Base Hospital.

A critically ill Mrs Davidson died shortly after intensive care specialist Dr Robin Leigh Holland performed a percutaneous tracheostomy to help her breathe easier. Although her official cause of death was septicemia (blood poisoning) triggered by pneumonia, an examining pathologist said the operation hurried her death by two days to two months.

New hospital guidelines for the procedure stated two specialists had to perform the operation after the relevant equipment was checked. Registered nurse Lois Gillespie said she gave Dr Holland a printout of the guidelines and told him about the need for another specialist to be present, and that the monitor to be used was problematic.

Although Dr Holland denied the nurse told him the monitor was not working, he admitted appointing Dr David Guitierrez, who had never performed the procedure, to assist him. "Robin said David was as good as any consultant and (David) was his consultant," Ms Gillespie told the court. "Robin was saying that he would do it right and that he didn't need (the monitor)."

The nurse then said Dr Holland couldn't get the bronchoscope light to flash, but assured her "I'd be right. I'll go blind". She claimed she advised Dr Holland to delay the operation in light of equipment failures and a shortage of back-up staff.

Dr Holland said he did not recognise the hospital guidelines given to him because they looked like a list of medical equipment on a trolley. He said he had all confidence in the pair's ability to complete the operation, even when Dr Guitierrez's first attempt to insert a tube did not work.


Four years to ban a horror surgeon in an Australian public hospital

The usual level of protection that you can expect from Australia's medical "regulators". There has got to be some means of fast-tracking this sort of thing

A SURGEON being sued for allegedly performing botched gynaecological operations - some without consent - on women in WA public hospitals has been banned from practising medicine. The obstetrician and gynaecologist, who has now left the country, has been permanently stripped of his right ever to work as a doctor in WA.

The ban comes as the Medical Board of WA pursues further shocking allegations of misconduct by the surgeon involving more than 100 female patients. The Sunday Times can now reveal the first details of what is potentially the most serious medical scandal in the state's history after a blanket suppression order was partially lifted on Monday following legal action by this newspaper and the Medical Board.

It can now be reported: The doctor is facing civil court claims that could result in large compensation payouts for the State Government. One woman interviewed by The Sunday Times said she was ``angered and disgusted at the outcome'' and the doctor had left her ``feeling and thinking I'm not normal''.

While knowing of the investigation against him, the doctor attempted to cover up the allegations while trying to obtain work overseas. He lied in an interview and produced fake documents of his good standing in WA.

The judge who banned the doctor ruled his behaviour as ``disgraceful or dishonourable'' conduct for a member of the medical profession. The scandal was so serious former attorney-general and health minister Jim McGinty thought public exposure so important he personally intervened and challenged the suppression in late 2007. He lost the application.

The Medical Board lawyers have been fighting to suspend the doctor since November 2005 and have filed 14 complaints against him in the State Administrative Tribunal. The Sunday Times, which understands all potentially affected WA patients have been contacted by health officials, has been investigating the scandal for more than a year, fighting to bring the case to the public's attention.

The doctor is also being sued by five former patients in the District Court, seeking personal-injury damages for medical negligence. More civil actions will follow in coming months. One woman claims in a writ that surgery performed by the doctor ``constituted trespass as it was performed in the absence of the plaintiff's consent to do so''.

Another alleged victim and her husband filed a writ over a botched sterilisation in which the doctor failed to apply a fishie clip to her right fallopian tube and resulted in her becoming pregnant and having a child.

The doctor at the centre of the scandal is now believed to be in South Africa, having fled halfway through the tribunal and court proceedings. He hasn't worked in WA since June 2006.

Tribunal president John Chaney ordered the doctor's permanent work ban in March this year and in a judgment found he deceived South African health officials while trying to work at a hospital near Durban....

Judge Chaney allowed his judgment to be made public but he ordered the continued suppression of the doctor's identity and all details of the 13 unresolved tribunal cases, including patient names

Mediation is listed for later this year but one alleged victim said she was ``angered'' that she has been gagged from talking about her case and the length of time taken in hearing her complaints. Health Minister Kim Hames declined to comment. The Sunday Times has lodged an appeal in the WA Supreme Court seeking to overturn the remaining suppression orders and allow us to inform the WA public about what is going on.


Stupid British health bureaucracy overwhelms the ambulance service

Overstretched ambulance crews are needlessly attending emergency call-outs from people wrongly advised to dial 999 by the Government’s swine flu hotline

One paramedic said he had raced to four unnecessary calls in one 12-hour shift on Friday. None of those he attended needed emergency treatment but all had been told to dial 999 after ringing the flu hotline for an assessment. It is feared that a combination of unqualified staff and a series of vague questions at the start of the telephone assessment are to blame.

The situation was revealed after the paramedic, from East Midlands Ambulance Service, rang the flu line from the home of a 55-year-old woman in Nottingham whose daughter had been advised to ring the emergency services. By chance his call was answered by a Mail on Sunday reporter working at the Teleperformance call centre in Leicestershire. He told the reporter: ‘This lady doesn’t need an ambulance, she just needs the drugs.’ He added: ‘This is the fourth today. Four call-outs to people who think they have swine flu and have been told to ring an ambulance.’

The reporter explained what had happened to the team leader, Adam, who was clearly very busy. All the agents at the centre said they had referred callers to 999. There are fears seriously ill patients could be put at risk while ambulances are diverted needlessly. As our investigation found, one worker at the centre, Brian, admitted he had instructed all six of his callers to ring 999 ‘because that’s what the computer tells me to do’.

At the start of each call, the workers have to ask 11 vaguely worded questions to assess whether the suspected swine flu victim is in need of emergency treatment. An affirmative answer to any of these questions, which include ‘Are they breathing irregularly?’, immediately leads the staff to a screen that says: ‘Assessment Complete – Dial 999.’

An ambulance worker, who asked not to be identified, said: ‘If you ask someone if they have difficulty breathing, they might say yes, even if they just have a blocked-up nose. That makes it a high priority call. 'It would be better if they employed medically qualified people who were able to ask follow-up questions.’

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: ‘Staff in the call centres have to ask certain questions to make sure anyone who needs emergency treatment gets it. We are keeping an eye on this and how often it’s happening and are talking to the ambulance trusts.’ [Talk is all they are capable of]


Obama throws old people ‘under the bus’ with Obamacare

By Vincent Gioia

"Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others" (Journal of the American Medical Association, June 18, 2008).

Would you vote for a person to be president if you knew when elected he would appoint someone who thought and said this, Obama did? The President appointed Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, to two key positions: health-policy adviser at the Office of Management and Budget and a member of Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research. Emanuel added to his comments that Doctors take their jobs too seriously and need to change to reduce costs – "Savings will require changing how doctors think about their patients," he wrote.

Emanuel knows that the cuts will not be pain-free. "Vague promises of savings from cutting waste, enhancing prevention and wellness, installing electronic medical records and improving quality are merely 'lipstick' cost control, more for show and public relations than for true change," he wrote last year (Health Affairs Feb. 27, 2008).

Emanuel wants doctors to look beyond the needs of their patients and consider social justice, such as whether the money could be better spent on somebody else. You know what this means; if you are old it’s not cost effective to keep you alive, the money is better spent on a younger person. In the world of Obamacare no longer will doctors try to keep patients alive, they will be told that a doctor's job is to achieve social justice one patient at a time.

Emanuel believes that "communitarianism" should guide decisions on who gets care. He says medical care should be reserved for the non-disabled, not given to those "who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens . . . An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia" (Hastings Center Report, Nov.-Dec. '96).

To defend discrimination against older patients, Emanuel says: "Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination; every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age. Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25 years" (Lancet, Jan. 31).

Medicare was started in 1965 and since then seniors' lives have been extended by new medical treatments such as angioplasty, bypass surgery and hip and knee replacements. These procedures have allowed the elderly to lead active lives. But Emanuel criticizes Americans for being too "enamored with technology" and is determined to reduce access to it.

Dr. David Blumenthal is another key Obama adviser; he agrees with Emanuel and recommends slowing medical innovation to control health spending. Blumenthal has long advocated government health-spending controls, though he concedes they're "associated with longer waits" and "reduced availability of new and expensive treatments and devices" (New England Journal of Medicine, March 8, 2001). But he says whether the timely care Americans get is worth the cost is "debatable." (If you or a loved one has cancer, do you think it’s debatable - delay lowers your chances of survival?)

Obama appointed Blumenthal as national coordinator of health-information technology. This is a job that involves making sure doctors obey electronically delivered guidelines about what care the government deems appropriate and cost effective.

In the April 9 New England Journal of Medicine, Blumenthal predicted that many doctors would resist "embedded clinical decision support" -- a euphemism for computers telling doctors what to do.

Betsy McCaughey, founder of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths and a former New York lieutenant governor, thinks you need to know who will be involved in your healthcare decisions and provided the information about Drs. Emanuel and Blumenthal, two of the Obama appointees who will be carrying out Obama’s orders to control lives by controlling what medical care people (other than Obama, congress and government bureaucrats) receive.

"Americans need to know what the president's health advisers have in mind for them. Emanuel sees even basic amenities as luxuries and says Americans expect too much: "Hospital rooms in the United States offer more privacy . .. . physicians' offices are typically more conveniently located and have parking nearby and more attractive waiting rooms" (Betty McCaughey - JAMA, June 18, 2008).

The Democrat news media house organs will not tell Americans the thinking behind government health "reform" nor have most people heard about the arm-twisting, Chicago-style tactics being used to force support by Democrat opponents in the House and Senate. In a Nov. 16, 2008, Health Care Watch column, Emanuel explained how business should be done: "Every favor to a constituency should be linked to support for the health-care reform agenda. If the automakers want a bailout, then they and their suppliers have to agree to support and lobby for the administration's health-reform effort."

The health bills in the House and Senate will put decision-making about your care in the hands of presidential appointees with the beliefs of Emanuel and Blumenthal who likely reflect what Obama himself thinks. These people will decide what medical insurance plans cover, how much flexibility your doctor will have and what seniors get under Medicare.

This is what we got when voters responded to the clamor for "change" and elected Barack Obama – Obama has showed a willingness to throw folks "under the bus" when it suits him and old folks are no exception.


Health reformers' Claims Just Don't Add Up

Many extravagant claims have been made on behalf of the various health care "reforms" now emerging from Congress and the White House. But on closer inspection, virtually all prove to be false.

• America has a health care crisis.

No, we don't. Forty-seven million people lack insurance. Of the remaining 85% of the population, or 258 million people, polls show high satisfaction with the current coverage. Indeed, a 2006 poll by ABC News, the Kaiser Family Foundation and USA Today found 89% of Americans were happy with their own health care.

As for the estimated 47 million not covered by health insurance, 20 million can afford to buy it, according to a study by former CBO Director June O'Neill. Most of the other 27 million are single and under 35, with as many as a third illegal aliens. When it's all whittled down, as few as 12 million are unable to buy insurance — less than 4% of a population of 305 million. For this we need to nationalize 17% of our nation's $14 trillion economy and change the current care that 89% like?

• Health care reform will save money.

Few of the plans now coming out of Congress will save anything, says the CBO's current chief, Douglas Elmendorf. In fact, he says, they'll lead to substantially higher costs in the future — costs that will be "unsustainable." As it is, estimates for reforming health care range from $1 trillion to $3.6 trillion. Much will be spent on subsidies to make a so-called public option more attractive to consumers than private plans.

To pay for it, the president has suggested about $600 billion in new taxes, meaning that $500 billion to $2.1 trillion in new health care spending over the next decade will be unfunded. This could push up the nation's already soaring deficit, expected to reach $10 trillion through 2019 without health care reform. Massive new tax hikes will probably be needed to close the gap.

• Only the rich will pay for reform.

The 5.4% surtax on millionaires the president is pushing gets all the attention, but everyone down to $280,000 in income will pay more. Doesn't that still leave out the middle class and poor? Sorry. Workers who decline to take part will pay a tax of up to 2% of earnings. And small-businesses must pony up 8% of their payrolls.

The poor and middle class must pay in other ways, without knowing it. The biggest hit will be on small businesses, which, due to new payroll taxes, will be less likely to hire workers. Today's 9.5% jobless rate may become a permanent feature of our economy — just as it is in Europe, where nationalized health care is common.

• Government-run health care produces better results.

The biggest potential lie of all. America has the best health care in the world, and most Americans know it. Yet we hear that many "go without care" while in nationalized systems it is "guaranteed."

U.S. life expectancy in 2006 was 78.1 years, ranking behind 30 other countries. So if our health care is so good, why don't we live as long as everyone else?

Three reasons. One, our homicide rate is two to three times higher than other countries. Two, because we drive so much, we have a higher fatality rate on our roads — 14.24 fatalities per 100,000 people vs. 6.19 in Germany, 7.4 in France and 9.25 in Canada. Three, Americans eat far more than those in other nations, contributing to higher levels of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

These are diseases of wealth, not the fault of the health care system. A study by Robert Ohsfeldt of Texas A&M and John Schneider of the University of Iowa found that if you subtract our higher death rates from accidents and homicide, Americans actually live longer than people in other countries.

In countries with nationalized care, medical outcomes are often catastrophically worse. Take breast cancer. According to the Heritage Foundation, breast cancer mortality in Germany is 52% higher than in the U.S.; the U.K.'s rate is 88% higher. For prostate cancer, mortality is 604% higher in the U.K. and 457% higher in Norway. Colorectal cancer? Forty percent higher in the U.K.

But what about the health care paradise to our north? Americans have almost uniformly better outcomes and lower mortality rates than Canada, where breast cancer mortality is 9% higher, prostate cancer 184% higher and colon cancer 10% higher.

Then there are the waiting lists. With a population just under that of California, 830,000 Canadians are waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to get treatment. In England, the list is 1.8 million deep.

Universal health care, wrote Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute in her excellent book, "Top Ten Myths Of American Health Care," will inevitably result in "higher taxes, forced premium payments, one-size-fits-all policies, long waiting lists, rationed care and limited access to cutting-edge medicine."

Before you sign up, you might want to check with people in countries that have the kind of system the White House and Congress have in mind. Recent polls show that more than 70% of Germans, Australians, Britons, Canadians and New Zealanders think their systems need "complete rebuilding" or "fundamental change."

• The poor lack care.

Many may lack insurance, but that doesn't mean they lack care. The law says anyone who walks into a hospital emergency room must be treated. America has 37 million people in poverty, but Medicaid covers 55 million — at a cost of $350 billion a year.

Moreover, as many as 11 million of the uninsured qualify for programs for the indigent, including Medicaid and SCHIP. But for some reason, they don't sign up. Are they likely to sign up for the "public option" when it's made available?


1 comment:

John said...

Obamacare will cost the medical device sales industry over 40,000 jobs, many of which have already been lost in anticipation of his reform.

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