Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

The State owns your Xray

August 9, 2013

The highlights of my visit (keeping a relative company) to a socialized healthcare hospital tonight.

The way a young woman was silently screaming in pain and all the hospital staff pretended not to notice. She’d fractured her arm badly and spent several hours without anyone doing anything to help.

I’ve seen this sort of thing before, the last time was a gay man who was passing out after being bashed on the head and no one tried to keep him awake. I hope he didn’t go into a coma. Another time – at a different hospital – a woman with her foot twisted 90 degrees fell off a trolley and writhed on the ground screaming for about 10 minutes while medical staff stepped over her to get to a break room for their cups of tea, until a doctor pointed and barked an order “sort that out!” But not tonight.

The complete lack of communication from doctor to nurse. The latter didn’t know anything about what she was bandaging or what it was for. The doctor, of course, couldn’t do a bandage. He also couldn’t give a copy of the X-ray to the patient, or email it (X-rays in socialized medicine belong to the state). There was a competent administrator who seemed to understand what was going on, which was a novelty, but he had zero authority.

The problem of continuity in care is not exclusively a problem of socialized medicine, but is worse: the client, whatever the mission statement may claim, is not the patient, but the owner of the X-rays.

The “Urgent Care Centre” was a hive of inactivity. It was new and looked clean. It was empty. I’ve spent a quarter of an hour trying to remember the last time I was in a place that exuded less urgency and care than this place. I failed. I was at a crematorium recently and that was like the pit lane of a Formula One Grand Prix racing track by comparison.

There was a two hour wait for a “bed” to put the bandage on, because there wasn’t a footrest in the hospital. In the end a supposedly-qualified nurse tried to put a bandage which was too small, and wanted to tape the edges on the fracture. She and her trainee colleague had to be told by the patient how to bandage a fractured toe. They couldn’t figure out that putting the foot on a chair would made bandaging the toe easier.

I counted seven doctors sitting around doing nothing. Actually not nothing: they were taking up chairs that could have been used as footrests.

A visit that would have taken one hour in a competently managed facility took three hours, most of it spent waiting for an unnecessary bed. Apart from the X-ray, which required equipment, nothing that happened would have required anyone more competent than a cub scout who has his first aid badge.

A visit to the nearby private hospital’s Accident and Emergency centre would have cost something like £200 (I looked it up here). I wonder how much in taxes the socialized version costs?

The one where I defend Bill Gates

August 5, 2010

I believe it was Spike Milligan who once said “money can’t buy friends, but you can get a better class of enemy.” He wasn’t accounting for envy.

Until the British general election in May, which saw off a government that seemed to be trying to combine all the worst aspects of incompetent socialism with the nastier instincts of fascism (racialist immigration policies, ever more puritanical and police-intrusive legislation), the British left had a nasty, but identifiable purpose.

Now it has none.

This article in the Guardian is the sort of dog vomit one would expect to see in an Ayn Rand parody of a collectivist newsrag.

Bill Gates is big enough and ugly enough to take care of himself (and I hasten to add, has never offered me any inducements to speak his mind). I’m writing this on an old Mac because I don’t trust the first billion copies of Windows 7 to be free of bugs.

(Would a free copy of Vista be a bribe or a threat, I wonder? Pleease, nooo! I’ll say what you want, but don’t put Vista on my poor laptop, noooo!)

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also has its issues for me: it’s rather more politically correct than I would like it (but hey, it’s up to me to make $30 billion and decide how I spend it, right?), and with size and leverage, comes the power to make big mistakes, rather than smaller ones.

Specifically, in a region of an African country where the Gates Foundation chooses to back a malaria project, this will tend to dwarf existing efforts to, say, distribute a vaccine for schistosomiasis (the reason I won’t take my shoes or socks off in some parts of Egypt). The concern is that in the short term, the effect will be to incite most of the health workers to sign up for Gates’ campaign. (more…)

Twittering exchange

December 8, 2009

Yesterday, I spotted this Twitter update:
“Problem on Paris metro – no trains running – trying to find a taxi”
[name withheld]

The author, a Californian who believes in global warming, government provided health care and public transport (no, I am not making this up!) was in France to take part in some global social media event. To be fair, he is an expert in this field.

My riposte: “Welcome to the public option”

Quote of the day

January 29, 2008

Using these studies to argue for male circumcision is like arguing that people should get their heads cut off so they won’t get their hair wet when it rains. Okay. Or a person could carry an umbrella.

Amy Alkon

Supreme Court says: “Drop dead, sickos!”

January 16, 2008

In response to this news from the US Supreme Court, I wrote this:

There are two reasons I’ve heard given for opposing “compassionate use,” one bad, one unfortunate.
The unfortunate one is that even the most apparently iron-clad patient litigation waiver can be turned on its head by a trial lawyer or a politician. So drug firms have a lot more to fear than to gain. One might argue this is a case for litigation reform, which I imagine drug firms and patients would support (but patients’ relatives and lawyers would oppose, and they are more numerous, so don’t hold your breath).
Whatever the rights and wrongs of patient waivers, the fact is, a drug firm would be nuts in the USA, to risk an unproven product being given to a patient whose later-bereaved family could claim acted “in extreme duress.” Note that this argument need not apply in other countries, but US citizens would still be affected when abroad, due to the nasty habit of US courts to adopt global claims of jurisdiction. So the system favors foreign patients and foreign drug firms. The UK, for example, does not appear to need an Abigail’s Law, it’s the treatable patients that are excluded, thanks to the NICE.
The bad reason is that even a TERMINALLY ILL patient should be “protected.” From what? Certain death? Constipation or some other adverse effect?
Yes, there is a risk that patients will, in desperation, agree to try out any quackery. But this is a problem in terminal patients… because… they’re going to die anyway? Surely even a placebo effect is worth a try.
It reminds me of the bizarre regulation that bans prisoners on death row from smoking. Like they’re going to develop lung cancer and escape the lethal injection? Again, so what? It all looks like a puritanical hang-up.
It seems that undermining the authority of the FDA to play God is the real problem. I’ve no doubt that any ruling which allows terminally-ill patients is a thin end of the wedge that leads to the FDA’s pronouncements becoming entirely voluntary. If a terminally-ill patient can try a likely dangerous and unproven Chinese remedy containing lead, or the latest monoclodal antibody, why can’t a patient with a 10% chance of recovery? Or 10.01%? At that point why stop at any sick person? There’s no magic number between 0.01% and 99.99% that can be objectively backed against all other options.
My guess is that the Supreme Court’s justices knew that by taking this case, they were opening the proverbial can of worms, in this case, the potential ruling that the FDA serves no constitutionally-valid function, at least at the federal level, and ducked it.
Personally, I don’t accept the right of any authority to prohibit me from taking any medication that I, in a rational state, am prepared to risk taking. And I’d wager the Supreme Court Justices wouldn’t let such rules get in their way either.
Back street oncology clinics, anyone? It’s called the Internet.

I am a moderate, Gordon Brown is a cannibal

January 14, 2008

I wrote this.

But Gabb wrote this:

“Cannibalism: New Labour’s Next Step” Says Sean Gabb

The Libertarian Alliance, the radical free market and civil liberties
pressure group, today denounces Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s proposal
that organs for donation be taken without consent from the dead.

Libertarian Alliance Director, Sean Gabb, says:

“Whenever British politicians or their clients want to do something
particularly gross to the rest of us, they announce it in a special
‘caring’ tone. Watching Gordon Brown at work today, his voice so slow and
husky it was barely audible, was rather like being lovebombed by Fred West.

“When the law allows organs to be harvested from the bodies of the dead
without the explicit prior consent of the dead, or the explicit consent
of the next of kin, the State becomes effectively a cannibal.

The proposal may save one or two lives. But it also puts lives in danger.
Many National Health Service hospitals are chaotic infection traps. Their
unwashed wards swarm with doctors who are high on drugs to stay awake,
who think an epidural goes into the arm, and who frequently speak barely
a word of English.

“Give these people the right to harvest organs, and no one without
private insurance will be safe. Doctors will take organs from patients who are not dead. They will ‘accelerate death’ for patients whose organs they want for friends or paying clients.

“We are told that we shall have the right to opt-out of this presumed consent scheme. I do not believe NHS bureaucrats are efficient enough to draw this to the attention of medical staff. But I do believe they will eventually be efficient enough to withhold treatment from those patients whose records on the database now being constructed show a lack of consent.

“And presumed consent really is only the beginning. Let this through, and it is only a matter of time before blood donation becomes compulsory. After cannibalism, after all, vampirism is very little.”

The Libertarian Alliance believes that no organ or bodily part should be taken from any person for any purpose without the explicit prior consent of that person, or, if dead, without the explicit consent of the next of kin.

Our bodies for the State

January 13, 2008

Remember the feminist call: Our bodies for ourselves?

The Socialists claimed that in a bourgeois male dominated society, women weren’t allowed to control their own reproduction.

I guess Gordon Brown thinks that, now he’s the UK Prime Minister, he has to demonstrate his male, bourgeois oppressiveness, by nationalizing our bodies.

This means that organs will be ripped out without consent, and usually thrown away because there is no way of storing them until a recipient is found.

It also creates an incentive for hospitals to “allow” patients to die. We don’t need this in the National Health Service.

As they used to sing at the end of Labour Party Conferences while holding hands:

“The working class can kiss my a***,
I’ve got the boss’s job at last!
You’re out of work,
You’re on the dole,
The working class can kiss my hole!”