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One of the reasons why healthcare doesn’t work

As a doctor, I live and breath healthcare. I’m one of those doctors who is smack dab in the middle of healthcare. I can’t do my job without a hospital. As a trauma surgeon, I need the support structure that a fully equiped hospital provides. Because I live in the Blue Ridge mountains, I take care of people from all around this beautiful country. Thousands of people come here to see the mountains. Thankfully, only a few injure themselves while they are here.

Currently, I’m taking care of a young man who lives in Florida. He crashed his motorcycle. He had a terrible head injury which required emergency neurosurgery in order to evacuate an expanding epidural hemorrhage. The patient has insurance. He is now much better and we need to figure out how to get him back to Florida. Here’s where the “fun” begins.

So, for 3 days the hospital social worker is trying to find a rehab facility to take care of this patient. Then we need to make sure that this facility takes the patient’s insurance. Next, we have to make sure that the insurance company will pay for the patient’s rehab and transport to Florida. Finally, and this is really choice, the facility requires the sending doctor to find a receiving doctor. Have you ever tried to get a single MD on the phone? Now, try to get two doctors together at the same time. (I have been waiting for a return call for more than an hour. Just waiting…)

This is nothing but a huge waste of time. All of this needs to be streamlined so that the patient is taken care of effectively. We need a system that is designed around the patient.

By |2011-10-03T15:59:19-04:00October 3rd, 2011|Healthcare|1 Comment

Improving Healthcare

One of the biggest problems facing the US is rising healthcare costs and preventable healthcare deaths. How is it that we have the best healthcare in the world and yet we have a rate of healthcare deaths that is unacceptably high? In the coming weeks, I’ll try to discuss how we can fix this problem. The one thing that is clear is that if we don’t fix healthcare costs we aren’t going to fix the deficit. We need something that is going to work, today and deep into the future. The Republican market-driven solution will do nothing but drive up healthcare costs and enrich large corporations at the same time.

From NYT:

Federal officials announced a new public-private effort called the Partnership for Patients: Better Care, Lower Costs on Tuesday in which hospitals, doctors, nurses, patient advocates, health plans and employers will work together to try to improve the quality of the nation’s medical care. The idea is to work together to save lives and money by reducing hospital errors, injuries and complications that could be prevented.

“Americans go the hospital to get well, but millions of patients are injured because of preventable complications and accidents,” said Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, in a statement. “Working closely with hospitals, doctors, nurses, patients, families and employers, we will support efforts to help keep patients safe, improve care, and reduce costs. Working together, we can help eliminate preventable harm to patients.”

It’s a program that nearly everyone in the health care system supports, and you can take a look at the growing list of organizations pledging to help here: The site also has posted more about the partnership on this fact sheet.

By |2011-04-13T10:01:19-04:00April 13th, 2011|Budget, Healthcare|Comments Off on Improving Healthcare

Opinions Versus Facts

I think that everyone in America would agree that we are all entitled to our own opinions. As a matter fact, I don’t think it’s a prerequisite to have your own opinions. If you want to you can borrow someone else’s. Yet, it is often the case, especially on talk radio, that someone will start flapping their lips and will lay out a set of “facts” which flow into their opinion. The problem is that their “facts” are sometimes not facts at all. Sometimes they are indeed lies. Let’s look at what Representative Steve King (R-IA) stated on G Gordon Liddy’s talk show (the fact that Liddy did not even attempt to correct him is a different conversation and says a lot about Liddy’s character).

From TP:

First of all [the Affordable Care Act] is unconstitutional. We can go through all of that component, Gordon, but, in the end, this trade off of giving up our personal decisions on what health insurance policy we choose to buy, what health insurance policy will be delivered to us because of market demands, and making decisions on doctors and tests and second opinions, as a whole list of things that are taken away from us under Obamacare. All of that, for what? So that we have a federal mandate that children must stay on our insurance until age 26? I want mine to grow up, as a matter of fact.

And then, going on down the line, preexisting conditions, the states can address that constitutionally far better than the federal government, and that’s how it should be addressed.

I think that there is a legitimate argument to be made about whether or not the Affordability Care Act is constitutional. It is when you start making up what’s in the act that I have a problem. There is no mandate that children must be on anyone’s insurance until age 26. This is a complete misreading of the bill. Instead, parents have the ability to keep kids on their insurance, if they want to, until age 26.

The Bill specifically states that you have the power to choose your own doctor and your own hospital. To state otherwise is a lie.

By |2011-01-20T20:28:24-04:00January 20th, 2011|Healthcare, Party Politics|Comments Off on Opinions Versus Facts
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