Monday, December 04, 2006

At least parts of our healthcare system need fixing

The system needs some fixing. I don’t agree/endorse everything this gentleman writies but it is worth a read:
The disease is AMI ( Acute Myocardial Infarct ) or in lay terms, a heart attack, and the background facts in this situation are not in dispute.
Every year some eight million people rush to a nearby Emergency Room ( ED ) believing they are experiencing life threatening chest pain. About 8 % of all ED visits every year are for this reason.
Five million of this total are deemed to demonstrate possible cardiac etiology and are treated accordingly.
However, three million are deemed to be having non-cardiac pain and they are discharged without treatment.
And then at least 40,000 of those so released, subsequently die, often in an embarrassingly short period of time, of a heat attack.
We say that at least 40,000 die because these are the ones everyone is sure of. No doubt there are more. But for 40,000, their deaths occur very close in time to the visit to the Emergency Room and their relatives raise a fuss, ask for records, file malpractice suits etc etc.
It’s another story for another time but misdiagnosed AMI is in fact the leading cause of malpractice suits in the US. Currently, however, almost none of these is ever successful.
The question for the reader though is a simple one. Why didn’t these 40,000, ( who after the fact, we now know, were literally dying in the emergency room ) get properly diagnosed.
I can’t speak for all of them but this is what happened to one of them, and based on what I am told by experts, it is not at all uncommon.

The proof of this statement is the simple fact that at least 13 times out of every 1000, the patient dies of a heart attack after having been told his pain is not heart related. If you think that’s a pretty good record, ask your self if you would fly an airline with the same record.

They aren’t “murder”, but are they reckless? How do we effect change, not throw out the baby with the bathwater, but improve our system and prevent unnecessary deaths?

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