Friday, December 28, 2007

Lack of access to quality healthcare kills

I was taking a look at some articles in the recent issue of the Journal of the National Medical Association regarding “Access to Care”. This is an issue that has been of interest to me for a number of years (prompting me to action doing an itinerant clinic for homeless individuals, founding HealthReach, and helping getting the HIV Primary Care Clinic going at the Lake County Health Dept., as examples). It is also of interest in my present business, the Coroner business.

Without proper and humane access to healthcare people die before they should.

Two themes revealed in a study published in the Journal that involved interviewing physicians regarding their thoughts about access to healthcare really struck me. They go beyond simply access, but more encompass how folks are often treated even when they get access, but aren’t treated up to standard (humanely).
Respecting the patient is key to quality care.
Understanding the patient is key in quality care.

The article has comments in these categories about not being judgemental, not making generalizations based on appearance, and the like. However consider a not unusual example, an individual presenting for care that is perceived as a drug addict with drug seeking behavior, so the exam and testing is cursory and treatment is thus “not all that great”. (one of my previous related posts) Now add a worsening co-factor: old tract marks on their arm. (Not true in the case referenced above, but may have been in others) The individual presents with pain. The severity of the pain is “discounted”, they are after all only “looking for pain medicine”.

I would caution healthcare providers that while some of these folks are indeed looking for drugs, even active drug users/abusers get sick and develop “real” medical problems that can end their lives, prematurely.

All people deserve access to proper, humane and quality healthcare.

1 comment:

Interested Party said...

I don't disagree with you, but I don't believe this is a problem for only those who have/do abuse drugs.

Try being overweight and going to a doctor sometimes. There are many doctors out there who will blame every ailment you have on the fact that you are overweight. Yes, I know there are many ailments that are caused or exacerbated by being overweight, but there are other ailments that strike people regardless of how much they weigh.

Yes, a primary care provider has the obligation to tell their patient when they need to lose weight, but it seems, at least in my experience, that other doctors who have no reason to will also harp on a person about their weight.

I argue that this causes lack of access to quality care because many people who are overweight/obese stop going to doctors all together because of this.