Is our health care system making us sick, or worse yet, killing us? Most of us think that our doctors and hospitals are there to help us be healthy. The truth of the matter is that our health care system is there to make money. From the primary care doctor to the major medical center none of them are going to stay in business unless they make a profit. Most of them have investors. Investors are not guardian angels that give out money for the fun of it. They are people who want their money to work hard at making more money. You would not leave your money in a bank that charges you for the privilege. Neither would an investor loan money to a business that isn't making a profit. But what does that mean for our health? One concept rises to the top "Buyer Beware!".
Nursing homes are notorious for being understaffed, and the staffing they do have in under trained. There was an incident that a male patient burnt to death in front of the nursing home staff, and they did nothing about it. They were afraid of doing the wrong thing, so they did nothing! He sat outside in his wheelchair alone while they waited for paramedics. The staff was not heartless. They were afraid of doing the wrong thing, so they did nothing! Many law makers try to legislate common sense in places like that, but what happens is that they train their staff to comply with the paperwork and forget about teaching them common sense on how to care for people.
It isn't just nursing homes. Hospitals can have the same type of problems. A patient in San Francisco went missing from her hotel room. They had missing persons posters were put up in the neighborhood. Two weeks later they found her, dead, in an unused stairwell. If the hospital had done a proper search they would have found her within hours. The saddest part of all was that the door of the stairwell led outdoors, and it was locked from the outside! If there were a fire anyone using that stairwell would have been trapped.
Medical mistakes account for one sixth of all deaths in the United States! Mistakes are preventable. We have the most expensive medical care of any country on the planet, yet we still have problems with people making mistakes. I personally know a woman that suffered from major infections for years because the surgeon left a sponge or a clamp in her. There was too much infection for them to operate to get it out! Then she began having money problems because of it. Everything they did to 'correct' the problem they charged her for.
Unnecessary surgeries are another area where our medical system is costing us money and endangering our health. The most highly abused surgeries are heart surgeries such as angioplasty or stints, pacemakers, back surgeries, hysterectomy, knee surgery, and Cesarian section. Most of these are considered 'emergency surgery'. If you think you need it you think you need it as soon as possible in order to save your life or the life of your child. The rest are issues with high pain level. If surgery is offered when you are in extreme pain you will jump at the chance for pain relief.
Why are these considered unnecessary? In many cases it is because there are other ways of dealing with the problem that do not increase risk. In many cases the risk of alternative treatment is less risky than the surgery. All of these incur long term problems for the person undergoing the surgery. In many Cesarian sections there is evidence of long term problems for the child. In some of these cases there is statistical proof that these surgeries don't do what they are purported to do. They do not relieve the pain.
Any time surgery is performed there is some risk. When anesthesia is used that risk is increased dramatically. Anesthesia has lasting effects on the brain. This is dramatic in someone elderly, yet the elderly are having more surgeries than the rest of our population. Many of our oldest loved ones go into minor surgery thinking clearly and come out with a marked level of dementia. Others just don't make it through the surgery.
We have all heard about the poor food in hospitals. There is very little 'real' food or fresh food available. A family member recently had surgery and once she began eating every meal had something on the plate that she was allergic to. Her allergic reaction was an increase in her pain. Even though this was pointed out repeatedly they still did not pay attention to what was being served to her, they just increased her pain medications.
Another thing that increases pain for those in the hospital is the lighting. In a supposed effort to keep the atmosphere calm there is low level artificial lights on day and night. This light level, and lack of natural lighting decreases the ability to sleep and increases the level of pain and depression for the patient.
What are we to do?
Take good care of yourself so that you need the medical industry as little as possible.
If you or a loved one is told they need surgery get a second opinion. Do some research and find out if there are any non-surgical solutions you can try first.
If you absolutely must have surgery have an advocate available to look out for you. They can't be in surgery, but they can question medication and food options. They can also request a room with a window and open the curtains for you so you can get some natural sunlight.
Our medical system is broken. We need to opt out of it as much as possible. Taking care of ourselves for the little things will keep us from needing medical care for the major things.