Friday, October 09, 2009

Britain's bureaucratized ambulance service

Petty ambulance boss refuses to let crew treat man with broken back 'because he was lying in six inches of water'

A jobsworth ambulance boss refused to allow his staff to enter six inches of water to treat a man with a broken back - because it breached heath and safety.

Stricken Brian Bendle, 45, suffered the agonising injuries as he stood in shallow water at a leisure lake in Somerset. He was waiting to take his £10,000 jetski out onto the water when he was hit by another rider travelling at around 50mph. Shocked onlookers immediately ran into the lake as Mr Bendle, from Bristol, lay face down in the water. They floated the dad-of-three in the six inch ankle-deep water, where they supported him until an ambulance arrived amid fears moving him would aggravate his back injury.

But they were stunned when a paramedic arrived and refused his pleading staff to enter the water - because they weren't trained to deal with water rescues. They had to slide a spinal board under him themselves and carry him to ambulancemen, who were stood on the bank just 6ft away. One onlooker said: 'The paramedic wouldn't treat him. 'Two colleagues arrived in an ambulance but he stood in their way and told them, 'I'm incident commander - you aren't getting into the water.' 'The ambulancemen were pleading with him. I reckon a good ten or more minutes were wasted.'

Steve Cox, 47, who runs the Middlemoor Water Park in Woolavington with his wife Julie, said: 'The first bloke insisted they had to wait for the fire brigade. 'He kept saying, "Health and safety won't let me get in".'

Mrs Cox added: 'Brian was stood at a virtual standstill waiting to dock when he was hit by a jetksi travelling at some speed. 'He tried to avoid the machine but was sent tumbling into the water. 'He was lying in water at the side of the lake, which can't be deeper than six inches when people rushed in to help him.'

The drama unfolded at 3pm on September when Mr Bendle, an experienced jetskier, visited the lake with his son. He was one of three people using the lake at the time of the accident, which left him with a broken back, six broken ribs and bleeding lungs. Mr Bendle was eventually rushed to Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, Somerset, where he was yesterday being treated in the intensive care unit.

A spokesman for the South West Ambulance Service said only fire crews were trained for water rescues. He said: 'The incident was managed in accordance with procedures.'

In August, heart attack victim Melissa Proctor-Blain, 32, died after a paramedic feared it was unsafe to enter a pub in Spondon, Derbys. Last year Karl Malton, 32, of Crowland, Lincs, drowned in 18ins of water while 999 crews waited for a water rescue team 50 miles away.


British Grandmother dies of ovarian cancer after being sent home FIVE times 'with trapped wind'

A grandmother dying of ovarian cancer was sent home five times by medics who said her crippling pain was caused by trapped wind. Barbara Collins, 68, was bed ridden for months with agonising pain and bowel problems, classic signs of the killer disease, but sent home with only laxatives.

The mother of four was correctly diagnosed with ovarian cancer a staggering four months after her first visit to Manchester Royal Infirmary, and died 10 days later.

Mrs Collins’ family criticised the medics, who they say made her feel like a nuisance. She could have survived if only her cancer had been diagnosed sooner, they claim. Daughter, Angela Stubbs, 44, from Partington, Greater Manchester, said: ‘It was tragic. ‘My mum went from being very active to lying in bed in pain in the space of a few months. ‘She was in agony and had terrible bowel problems, but time after time they gave her laxatives and sent her home - no one listened to her or to us. ‘When they finally did diagnose her ovarian cancer it had spread to her lungs and bowel but they said she could have chemotherapy - we were horrified when she died. ‘They call ovarian cancer the silent killer but my mum had the classic symptoms of the disease. ‘I feel so angry about the weeks she spent in bed and in pain. I hope people will hear about the symptoms and might be able to save their relatives.’

Mrs Collins first visited Manchester Royal Infirmary on April 6. Medics failed to pick up the condition during two separate visits to the walk-in centre and a visit to accident and emergency. The grandmother of ten was even sent home without a diagnosis after being admitted to the hospital for five days following a referral from her GP.

Mrs Collins was later called for a ‘non-urgent scan’ which also failed to identify the life-threatening illness and was sent home with the message that her crippling pain was simply due to trapped wind. [That sounds like an Indian diagnosis to me] The tumour was only diagnosed on 31 July by which time it had spread to her lungs and her bowel. Mrs Collins died at St Mary's Hospital on August 10.

Hospital and health bosses have now launched a joint investigation into Mrs. Collins’ care. A spokesman for Central Manchester Hospitals, which runs Manchester Royal Infirmary, said: ‘We extend our condolences to the family of Mrs Collins - we are very sorry for the distress caused to them. ‘We can confirm that we have been in contact with the family and are currently in the process of setting up a meeting to discuss their concerns with key clinicians and a representative from our Patient Advice and Liaison service. ‘We have also launched a review of Mrs Collins' care and will provide the family with a detailed report on the outcome of the review.’

A spokeswoman for NHS Manchester, which runs the walk-in centre, said: ‘Our sympathies are with Barbara Collins' family at this time. We have launched an investigation into the case.’ The family have written to health bosses listing Mrs Collins' attempts to get help.


Bureaucratic nightmare

President Obama and Congressional Democrats have convinced themselves that they can finance their new entitlement in part by slashing Medicare, while denying they are making any Medicare cuts. Wait till seniors with Medicare Advantage plans find those plans going out of business because Obama's rigid leftist ideology opposes any private alternative to Medicare, contrary to the promise that if you like your plan you can keep it.

While President Obama and Congressional Democrats promise their health overhaul schemes will reduce costs, the regulation imposed will cause health insurance premiums to soar. They and their literal media clowns continue to laugh off any notion that the health overhaul involves government rationing. But, once again, here are the death panels with power to ration and deny your care in Obamacare: the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness, the Health Choices Administration, the Health Benefits Advisory Committee, the Bureau of Health Information, the Institute of Medicine, the Physician Quality Reporting Initiative, the National Priorities for Performance Improvement Office, the Center for Quality Improvement, the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis, and the Independent Medicare Advisory Council. Last week, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) added an amendment to the Baucus bill making sure the Secretary of HHS has the power to define what is quality, cost-effective care for each medical condition, and to penalize doctors who don't follow the brilliant medical insights of the health bureaucracy.


No, You Can't See the Health Care Bill

When then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama promised not to sign major legislation until it had been posted on the Internet for public reading at least five days, trusting voters took him at his word. Now they know better. Not only is the actual language of what is likely to become the main legislative vehicle for Obama's signature health care reform not available on the Internet, it hasn't been given to members of the key Senate committees or the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), either. All that is available to those worried about a massive government takeover of our health care system is a 262-page description of the bill's provisions. Bill descriptions mean nothing and bind nobody.

Brian Darling, a legislative analyst with the Heritage Foundation, believes the Senate Democratic leadership intends to use an obscure parliamentary maneuver to bring the actual health care reform proposal to the Senate floor in order to prevent a Republican-led filibuster. Once debate starts in the Senate, Democrats will only need 51 votes to add the public option provision they have long favored. The White House and the Democratic congressional leadership know that passing so monumental a proposal in this manner violates the president's promise of greater transparency, but they don't care. That became clear last week when Senate Finance Committee member Sen. Jim Bunning, R-KY, offered an amendment requiring the actual legislative language be posted on the Internet for 72 hours prior to final passage. Bunning's amendment was soundly defeated. As The Examiner's Susan Ferrechio reported yesterday, there is no reason to think that situation will change before a vote on final passage.

Technically, Senate and House rules require that all bills be read in their entirety three times before debate begins, with a 24-hour and one-week respite between readings to allow elected representatives to digest what's in the bills before voting on them. But rules are made to be suspended, as frequently happens on Capitol Hill. Indeed, earlier this year, hardly any member of Congress read the 1,100-page stimulus bill because copies of the bill only became available barely 13 hours before the final vote. Passing the even more massive health care reform bill without reading it or allowing the public to do so will qualify as among the worse instances ever of legislative malpractice. The shameless message Democrats are thus sending to the American people, with tacit approval of the White House, is this: "We won't read the bill, and neither will you." The public's response ought to have a familiar ring to it: "You won't tread on me."


More Health Care Mythinformation

President Obama habitually accuses critics of his various health reform “plans” of myth-mongering. Examples:

* Portsmouth Town Hall: “... nother myth that we've been hearing about is this notion that somehow we're going to be cutting your Medicare benefits. We are not.”

* On 60 Minutes: When asked the purpose of his speech to the Joint Session, he replied “Well, I think the most important thing was to make sure that American people understood the nature of the problem, what exactly I was proposing, to debunk some of the myths that had been floating around out there...”

* Minnesota Town Hall : “... And contrary to some of the myths out there...”

There indeed are many myths about Obama’s proposed plan(s) floating around, but most of them are floated by the White House and its friends on a veritable sea of misinformation and outright falsehoods. For example, Obama frequently argues that a public option is necessary to counterbalance and restrain obscene industry profits. Thus in a July 22 news conference he asserted that
having a public plan out there that also shows that maybe if you take some of the profit motive out, maybe if you are reducing some of the administrative costs, that you can get an even better deal, that’s going to incentivize the private sector to do even better. And that’s a good thing. That’s a good thing.

Now, you know, there had been reports just over the last couple of days of insurance companies making record profits. Right now, at the time when everybody’s getting hammered, they’re making record profits and premiums are going up.

This and similar assertions are simply not true, as shown by the analyses of two separate fact-check organizations, the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s FactCheck.Org and the St. Petersburg Times’ And two days ago a Wall Street Journal article pointed out that “[h]ealth insurance companies aren't quite as profitable as many critics seem to think.”
Consider WellPoint, the biggest private health insurer on Wall Street, which has about 35 million customers nationwide. Last year, it paid out 83.6% of revenues in expenses. Net, after-tax income as a percentage of total revenue came to a princely 4.1%.

Profits are thin at WellPoint, Inc.’s Indianapolis headquarters. In other words, simply eliminating profits would only allow the public option to undercut the private sector by 4% or so.

Returns on assets, a key measure of profitability, are typically pretty modest too. According to analysis by FactSet, WellPoint’s ROA has averaged 5.8% over the past five years, Aetna’s, 4.2%. Those were, remember, supposedly boom years. UnitedHealth was higher, at 9.6%, but fell to 6.4% in 2008. These are reasonable, but hardly spectacular, results. By comparison, Wal-Mart averaged a 9.2% return on its assets and Dell, Inc. 12.4%.

According to the New York Times yesterday, West Virginia Senator John D. Rockefeller IV says insurance company profits are “out of sight.” It may well be true that the Senator can’t see them, because many things are out of sight to those with closed eyes and mind but open mouth.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

A doc drops out

Doctor Alan Dappen wasn't going to take it any more. So he got out. Eight years ago, he decided that his office would no longer accept Medicare payments. Why? As he tells his patients, “We can't afford to.” Medicare won't pay for consultations by phone or email, won't cover the full cost of a house call, and “barely pays for an office visit.”

Then there's the regulatory burden. Dappen can't understand a lot of the regulations. Further, as far as he can tell the folks enforcing them don't understand many of them either. Yet the bureaucrats can audit a doctor's paperwork and impose huge fines based on these unclear regs.

Medicare-mired physicians would be more effective if only they didn't have to worry about complying with arbitrary regulatory dictates all the time. These rules make it harder for doctors to do their jobs. So Dr. Dappen took the risky but more satisfying path of operating in an unhampered market. And, of course, he invited his patients to join him.

Today, in the name of mandatory universal health coverage, the Obama administration wants even more restrictions on medical freedom. Shouldn't we consider the consequences on the decision-making ability of doctors and patients of current coercive micromanagement when assessing the viability of yet newer coercive schemes? Dr. Dappen figures he is better off with freedom. You and I are too.


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