A Bigger Danger to Patients than Illness Itself

Monday night on MediTalk we had a recap of the Town Hall meeting with Lee Hieb, MD, (Spine and Orthopaedic Surgeon as well as President of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons). Dr. Hieb expanded on her Town Hall Meeting presentation about how government regulation hurts patients. She brings up an interesting point, that much of the policies written by physicians are not in fact practicing physicians, but University doctors that don‘t know how theses policies will directly effect business. She states the reason government gives for being more involved with the regulation of healthcare is they need to increase quality, decrease cost, and increase access. Her experience in practicing medicine after the implementation of some of these policies and regulations have found the opposite to be true.

At Dr. Hieb’s hospital, they have a radiology technician specially certified in ultrasound that has been utilizing the Doppler Ultrasound for 20 years to detect blood clots in patients. The ultrasound is read by their board certified radiologist, but six months ago, Medicare said they cant do the test unless they have their radiology tech go back to school for two years to become certified specifically for the Doppler Ultrasound despite her 20 years of experience with that very instrument. They are a small facility and this is their only radiology tech, so what once was a simple trip down the hall with results in one hour is now a process that starts with calling around to different hospitals to see if they will do the test, bundling up and driving the patient 45min to an hour to this new hospital in an ambulance, waiting around in the new hospital until somebody is available to do the test, then driving 45min to an hour back. Not only has the patient not been supervised by a doctor or nurse the entire time, the test results won‘t be back for at least 8 hours.

Instead of the new policy increasing quality, decreasing costs and increasing access, it succeeded in doing exactly the opposite. It set up a situation where somebody could easily be killed, they greatly increased the cost from $235 to $3,235 including the ambulance ride, and access was decreased because providing the in house test for patients with paid insurance would be discriminatory against Medicare recipients. This is happened in England where they lowered standards to give equal quality care to everybody, then back in March 2011, former NHS director and mayor, Margaret Hutchon, died at her own hospital, (Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex), after having a follow up stomach operation canceled four times in 9 months. In other places, government leaders wont even use their own healthcare. In order to escape the universal health care system he created, Boris Yeltztin not only used American trained physicians, he had 90 year old renowned Heart Surgeon, Dr. DeBakey fly in from TX to supervise the heart surgery Russian doctors said he would not survive. When one of two Canadian Premiers caught sneaking into the US for healthcare, Danny Williams, was asked to explain why he did it, he said, “I did not sign away my right to get the best possible healthcare for myself when I entered politics. My heart, my choice, and my health.

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