THIS is an excellent exploration of how and why our medical system manages to do so much harm to so many people.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that almost 100,000 Americans now die from hospital-acquired infections alone, and that most of these are preventable.
People like Carole LaRocca are the human face of this travesty. One day recently I sat at the seventy-four-year-old’s kitchen table as she broke down in tears. She was weeping not because of the hospital-acquired infection that almost took her life, but because of the $3,676 bill she faced for the antibiotics she needed to treat the harm done to her by her hospital stay. Every month she pays $25 of her meager fixed income toward the debt, and is still hounded by bill collectors.
This first thing to understand here is that medical professionals are skilled and caring people. No doctor or nurse ever intends to do harm to any patient. The fault, dear people, lies in the system. Although the health care system is a human creation, it lacks the human virtues of compassion and concern. The system does not and can not care about anything or anyone.
I know that seems cold and I know that Americans, at least, are accustomed to cheering Sis! Boom! Bah! for the (far from) BEST health care system in the world. The point is that the system is aligned in ways that perpetuate out-moded models of care (such as hospitals and nursing homes) along with antiquated professional guilds (such as doctors and nurses). The health care system’s highest ideal (if it can be called that) is the perpetuation of the status quo. This is why Health Care Reform is both important and insufficient. It changes health care financing without changing what is being financed.
The challenge of changing the SYSTEM for the better is ours and success depends on developing systematic, evidence-based alternatives to the current delivery system.
We must build that road as we travel.