Thursday, October 15, 2009

Baby left severely brain-damaged by negligent hospital in socialist Britain

Arun Rees was born with severe brain damage after hospital staff waited 90 minutes to deliver him, starving his brain of oxygen. The medics failed to spot he was suffering complications in the womb, with one doctor even recommending that his mother simply needed to go the toilet.

Miss Rees’s pregnancy had already been judged high risk because she was 44 and had previously suffered a miscarriage. She was admitted to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff at 32 weeks suffering from abdominal pains but says she was not properly treated for more than two hours even though heart monitor readings ‘clearly showed’ the baby was in distress. She said: ‘I just couldn’t understand why they weren’t doing anything to help me and my baby. ‘At my last antenatal visit I was told my baby was breech and I would need a Caesarean section. It was a no-brainer – I knew my baby needed to be delivered urgently. I was screaming in agony and begging the midwives to get my baby out but they just left me. ‘I couldn’t believe it when a doctor arrived and said I wasn’t ready to deliver but had probably eaten something that had disagreed with me and to try going to the toilet instead.’

Eventually an emergency Caesarean was performed an hour and a half later on a second doctor’s recommendation. Arun was taken to the special baby care unit after he was delivered but had suffered irreversible brain damage. Miss Rees and Mr Govekar switched off his life support machine after ten days.

The couple who own a restaurant in Penarth, South Wales, said their lives had been completely devastated by the death of their son. Miss Rees, now 48, said: ‘After the upset of an earlier miscarriage, we were both thrilled when I became pregnant again. It was all we wanted and it was taken away from us.’ She added: ‘As far as I am concerned the hospital has robbed me of a family. I am 48 now, I will probably never have a family.’

The couple spoke yesterday after winning a four-year battle for an apology from the hospital along with £160,000 in compensation. Mr Govekar, also 48, said: ‘The last four years have been a relentless battle to gain answers. Arun’s death has taken its toll on us both. ‘It has affected our health, our ability to work and at times it threatened to break up our relationship completely. ‘We can only hope that we can now move forward with our lives.’

Their solicitor Guy Forster added: ‘Although baby Arun was premature he was well developed and experts have confirmed that in all likelihood he would have survived had the staff taken appropriate action.’ He continued: ‘For Johanne and Krishna, this case has never been about the money but about ensuring that lessons have been learned, as they do not want any other couple to go through the tragedy they have experienced.’

Katie Norton, director of primary services for the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said: ‘This was an exceptional and difficult case and we have worked with the staff to learn lessons. ‘I want to apologise again unreservedly on behalf of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board for the distress that Ms Rees and Mr Govekar have experienced and offer our sincere condolences to them.’


Australia: Government hospitals operating at dangerous capacities

Not one hospital in Sydney is operating at a safe level, with patients waiting longer for elective surgery and in emergency, the latest AMA Public Hospital Report Card says. Australian Medical Association NSW president Brian Morton said average waiting times for elective surgery patients in NSW had "significantly increased". This meant that one in four patients needing semi-urgent surgery, such as the removal of a breast lump, were being put at risk, Dr Morton said. "Our public hospitals are being forced to operate dangerously above capacity, compromising patient safety and quality of care," he said.

He said all major metropolitan hospitals including Westmead and Royal North Shore were often forced to operate at 95 per cent capacity or higher, which is well above the benchmark of 85 per cent.

Dr Morton said that a cash boost of $448 million by the Federal Government in 2007-08 had clearly not improved public hospital performance and partly blamed NSW Health for cutting its expenditure by $7 million for that year. He said that, to keep up with inflation, NSW should have provided about half a billion dollars in funding.

The performance of emergency departments was worse for 2008-09 than in 2006-07. Only 66 per cent of category three patients (urgent, to be seen within 30 minutes) were seen within the recommended time in 2008-09, compared with 71 per cent in 2006-07. Also, the percentage of category two elective surgery patients (recommended to be seen within 90 days) seen within the recommended time was 75 per cent for 2008-09, an increase of only 1 per cent from the previous year. The median waiting time for elective surgery has increased by four days to 39 days.

Australian Medical Association president Dr Andrew Pesce said it was the worst AMA report card ever. He said the Rudd Government and the states needed to be more transparent about where extra funding was going because it was not improving patient care. Even worse, the true waiting lists were hidden because many patients were waiting even to get on a list, he said.


Health bill doubters remain in spotlight

All eyes were on a moderate Republican with continued misgivings about affordability, a fiscally conservative Democrat worried about the deficit, and two liberals who wish the bill included a so-called "public option" as a health care overhaul bill cleared a major hurdle Tuesday.

All four Senate Finance Committee members voted in favor of the bill, but their concerns highlight the fault lines taking shape as the full chamber prepares to tackle health care reform.

Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine was the only member to cross party lines in Tuesday's vote, though the Republican was quick to issue the caveat that her support did not guarantee a vote on the final package. "Is this bill all that I would want? Far from it," Mrs. Snowe said of Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus' $829 billion plan, which was approved by a vote of 14 to 9. "There are many, many miles to go."

The Finance bill would extend health care coverage to millions of the uninsured, largely by expanding eligibility for Medicaid as well as by providing tax credits for individuals and families to satisfy a mandate requiring Americans to have insurance. Instead of a public option, the bill would create a network of nonprofit insurance cooperatives.

Mrs. Snowe cited numerous reservations with the legislation, chief among them affordability and the potential for "vast governmental bureaucracies." She also said she was apprehensive of how the Finance bill could change as it gets combined with a more liberal version from the Senate health committee, which includes a public option.

Of course, a big change is just what some Democratic members of the Finance Committee said they were counting on when they cast a vote in favor of the bill. Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, who publicly was undecided prior to the vote, long bemoaned the absence of a government-run plan that he said would foster competition with private insurers. "It's regrettable to say so, but I believe the bill before us still falls short of what people need and what people expect from us," Mr. Rockefeller said. "This bill does not go far enough to protect vulnerable populations."

Like Mr. Rockefeller, Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, questioned whether the Finance bill would produce sufficient competition that would lower costs, and he said consumers would still have only a few choices.

At the other end of the spectrum, Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Arkansas Democrat, said her constituents are frightened by skyrocketing deficits and skeptical of lengthy health care bills. Mrs. Lincoln said she would like the bill's legislative language as well as the full cost estimate posted online for the public before a full Senate vote.

Americans are "alarmed about big bills that are difficult for them to understand, and they need to have time to look at them, just as we do, to ensure we get it right," she said.

Political operatives of both stripes pounced on the highly anticipated vote. The Senate Republican campaign arm took aim at Mrs. Lincoln for voting to "increase health care costs for American families." Meanwhile, the Democratic campaign organization blasted Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa for voting to "kowtow" to his party's right wing, aligning himself with insurance companies.


We've Figured Him Out

By Ben Stein

Why is President Barack Obama in such a hurry to get his socialized medicine bill passed? Because he and his cunning circle realize some basic truths:

The American people in their unimaginable kindness and trust voted for a pig in a poke in 2008. They wanted so much to believe Barack Obama was somehow better and different from other ultra-leftists that they simply took him on faith.

They ignored his anti-white writings in his books. They ignored his quiet acceptance of hysterical anti-American diatribes by his minister, Jeremiah Wright.

They ignored his refusal to explain years at a time of his life as a student. They ignored his ultra-left record as a "community organizer," Illinois state legislator, and Senator.

The American people ignored his total zero of an academic record as a student and teacher, his complete lack of scholarship when he was being touted as a scholar.

Now, the American people are starting to wake up to the truth. Barack Obama is a super likeable super leftist, not a fan of this country, way, way too cozy with the terrorist leaders in the Middle East, way beyond naïveté, all the way into active destruction of our interests and our allies and our future.

The American people have already awakened to the truth that the stimulus bill -- a great idea in theory -- was really an immense bribe to Democrat interest groups, and in no way an effort to help all Americans.

Now, Americans are waking up to the truth that ObamaCare basically means that every time you are sick or injured, you will have a clerk from the Department of Motor Vehicles telling your doctor what he can and cannot do.

The American people already know that Mr. Obama's plan to lower health costs while expanding coverage and bureaucracy is a myth, a promise of something that never was and never will be -- a bureaucracy lowering costs in a free society. Either the costs go up or the free society goes away.

These are perilous times. Mrs. Hillary Clinton, our Secretary of State, has given Iran the go-ahead to have nuclear weapons, an unqualified betrayal of the nation. Now, we face a devastating loss of freedom at home in health care. It will be joined by controls on our lives to "protect us" from global warming, itself largely a fraud if believed to be caused by man.

Mr. Obama knows Americans are getting wise and will stop him if he delays at all in taking away our freedoms. There is his urgency and our opportunity. Once freedom is lost, America is lost. Wake up, beloved America.


Democrat speechwriter moves to Massachusetts, a state with universal health care, and she cannot afford the insurance there

For the first time in my life, I am without health insurance and it is a terrible feeling. In the past, I paid attention to the health care debate as a speechwriter who prepared speeches, talking points, op-eds, and debate prep material on the topic at different times for John Edwards, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and others. Now, I'm paying attention because I'm a citizen up the creek without a paddle.

Throughout my life, I have been very lucky because my insurance has always been there whenever I had a crisis. When my 10-speed hit a patch of leftover winter sand, and I went flying into a telephone pole, it covered the x-rays and stitches and concussion diagnosis. When a half a ton of sheet rock fell on me, my insurance paid for the cast on my foot. When my depression kicked in and I was hospitalized and painting ceramic pieces in art therapy to boost my self-esteem (sheesh), it made sure that when I got home my medical bills didn't make me reach for a razor. And when there were growths in my uterus, it covered that medical procedure and every regular check-up, lab test, broken bone, sports injury, and antibiotic prescription in between.

Since I care more about my country than my personal pride, here's how I lost my insurance: I moved. That's right, I moved from Washington, D.C., back to Massachusetts, a state with universal health care.

In D.C., I had a policy with a national company, an HMO, and surprisingly I was very happy with it. I had a fantastic primary care doctor at Georgetown University Hospital. As a self-employed writer, my premium was $225 a month, plus $10 for a dental discount.

In Massachusetts, the cost for a similar plan is around $550, give or take a few dollars. My risk factors haven't changed. I didn't stop writing and become a stunt double. I don't smoke. I drink a little and every once in a while a little more than I should. I have a Newfoundland dog. I am only 41. There has been no change in the way I live my life except my zip code -- to a state with universal health care.

Massachusetts has enacted many of the necessary reforms being talked about in Washington. There is a mandate for all residents to get insurance, a law to prevent insurance companies from denying coverage because of a pre-existing condition, an automatic enrollment requirement, and insurance companies are no longer allowed to cap coverage or drop people when they get sick because they forgot to include a sprained ankle back in 1989 on their application.

Even if the economy was strong and I was working more, I still couldn't afford my premium. I am not alone; I've got 46 million friends in a similar situation. We wake up every day worried that a bad cough, an accident while walking the dog, or that dreaded pain on the right side of the abdomen will send us into complete financial ruin.

As luck would have it, I didn't schedule a physical before I left D.C. I thought I could get that taken care of when I moved -- after all they had reforms, automatic enrollment, and universal coverage in Massachusetts, all the things I'd written about for politicians. Health care would be affordable. It didn't dawn on me that it would just be affordable for other people.

Now, sharing my experience doesn't make me an expert in health care policy anymore more than my knowledge that Kajagoogoo sings "Too Shy" makes me an expert in music. What my story does is serve as a cautious reminder that we need to get this right, not right away. A rushed bill will have consequences. Reforms will not be cheap and some people may be priced out.

How could all of these weeks and months go by and no one is examining and talking about what has worked and what hasn't worked in Massachusetts?

While the state has the lowest rate of uninsured, a report by the Commonwealth Fund states that Massachusetts has the highest premiums in the country. The state's budget is a mess and lawmakers had to make deep cuts in services and increase the sales tax to close gaps. The number of people needing assistance has at times overwhelmed the state. The mandate means that some people who can't afford insurance are now being slapped with a fine they also can't afford. There is no "public option" in the way the president describes it, no inter-state competition, no pool for small businesses and self-employed individuals like me to buy into groups that negotiate cheaper rates. So far I haven't found any "death panels," but if I get sick and need a hospital, I sure hope I can find one and a feisty granny to pull my plug.

What makes this a double blow is that my experience contradicts so much of what I wrote for political leaders over the last decade. That's a terrible feeling, too. I typed line after line that said everything Massachusetts did would make health insurance more affordable. If I had a dollar for every time I typed, "universal coverage will lower premiums," I could pay for my own health care at Massachusetts's rates.

More here

Democrats face two bad options on health plan

Congress faces two politically unpalatable options on health care: Higher fines for working-class Americans who don't buy insurance or increases in spending and taxes after insurance providers predicted huge increases in premiums under the main Democratic plan.

A report from America's Health Insurance Plans saying the cost of health coverage would be nearly 20 percent higher under a Senate Finance Committee plan -- $1,500 per year for an individual and $4,000 for a family -- has shaken things up in advance of a key vote scheduled for Tuesday.

The report blames a "weak coverage requirement" that might encourage younger and healthier individuals to opt to pay a new federal fine for not carrying insurance rather than paying for a more-expensive policy.

Insurers want the legislation to include stiffer fines for those who don't buy insurance. Higher fines would mean more subsidies to help people afford coverage, and that would raise the cost of the $829 billion plan. A more expensive plan means additional taxes and fees or further increasing the federal deficit.

The insurance industry report came as a blow to the White House and congressional Democrats, who had made a deal with industry leaders: New regulation and coverage requirements in exchange for millions of new customers forced into the system under a mandate. But experts say Democrats should have seen it coming, as the mandate was watered down significantly in the Finance Committee even as the regulations on the health care industry were stiffened.

"The health insurance industry made a calculation much earlier in the year that they would basically accept just about any regulation and requirement just as long as they had a guarantee of a captive customer base, which would mean a very strongly enforced individual mandate," said Thomas Miller, a health care expert with the American Enterprise Institute and a former senior health economist for the Joint Economic Committee.

The spokesman for AHIP, Robert Zirkelbach, said the Democratic plan will also drive up the cost of coverage by slashing Medicare payments, which he said would force medical providers to make up the cost by charging private health insurers more for services. Those costs would be passed on to the insured, he said. Zirkelbach told The Examiner that insurers want Democrats to consider cuts across the medical industry, not just for seniors. "If we are going to get cost under control it is essential to look at savings across the health care system," Zirkelbach said.

The finance committee is likely to approve the bill Tuesday. But the industry report will make it even harder to convince wavering party moderates to get on board when the measure goes to the full Senate.

"Without better subsidies to make health coverage more affordable, it is difficult to have the strong individual mandate that the insurance industry wants as the price for accepting more regulation," said Jon Oberlander, a health care policy professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "But making coverage more affordable means either adopting stronger cost control or raising more revenues to enhance subsidies, and neither of those are politically easy steps."


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