More On That Alleged Best Health Care In The World - Part III

There is an ongoing battle over health care in the United States. Those opposed to universal health care argue that the implementation of such a plan will result in a decline in the quality of care. Time and again, they cite the reported delays in accessing needed procedures in those countries that provide such care as evidence. They also make anecdotal assertions about the growing number of foreigners who seek medical care in the United States…while ignoring the same indications that more Americans are seeking medical care in other countries.

While there may be legitimate concerns about the implementation of a universal health care system, I’ve previously written about the fallacies contained in many of these arguments. I’ve also directed readers to studies that offer a less than stellar assessment of the health care we’re currently receiving.

The recent report from Nevada on the mishandling of syringes and vials, which may have resulted in potentially exposing 40,000 patients to Hepatitis C, is further evidence that our system has its share of deficiencies.

WASHINGTON (AP) — An outbreak of hepatitis C at a Nevada clinic may represent “the tip of an iceberg” of safety problems at clinics around the country, according to the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The city of Las Vegas shut down the Endoscopy Center of Southern Nevada last Friday after state health officials determined that six patients had contracted hepatitis C because of unsafe practices including clinic staff reusing syringes and vials. Nevada health officials are trying to contact about 40,000 patients who received anesthesia by injection at the clinic between March 2004 and Jan. 11 to urge them to get tested for hepatitis C, hepatitis B and HIV.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., met Monday with CDC head Dr. Julie Gerberding, and on a media conference call after their meeting both strongly condemned practices at the clinic.

Health care accreditors “would consider this a patient safety error that falls into the category of a ‘never event,’ meaning this should never happen in contemporary health care organizations,” said Gerberding.

“Our concern is that this could represent the tip of an iceberg and we need to be much more aggressive about alerting clinicians about how improper this practice is,” she said, “but also continuing to invest in our ability to detect these needles in a haystack at the state level so we recognize when there has been a bad practice and patients can be alerted and tested.”

Let me attempt to explain exactly what appears to have happened at these clinics. In performing procedures on patients with Hepatitis C, clinicians may have been reusing the syringes used in sedating these infected individuals on other patients…or they were reusing the same syringe a second time on an individual infected with the disease when drawing a sedating medication from a multi-dose vial…which was then used to draw medication to sedate other patients. The bottom line is that the disease could have contaminated either the syringe or the vial containing the sedating medication.

Look, I’m not a doctor or a scientist…but it isn’t that difficult to understand that if you put something (a needle connected to a syringe containing a fluid) into a contaminated substance (blood in the tissue of an infected individual in this case), there is a risk that the infected substance can travel into any connected portion of that device (think backwash from a straw or the basic concept of osmotic transfer) or into any container that device may subsequently come into contact with.

So what does this tell us about our health care? Well, according to the representative from the CDC, these clinicians were conducting practices that are NEVER EVER acceptable. In doing so, they were violating a very basic guideline; not some complex concept beyond those capable of rudimentary rational thought. Frankly, if one can’t be sedated for a colonoscopy without the risk of contracting Hepatitis C, what hope should we have that a life saving surgical procedure will follow proper protocol?

To be fair, that isn’t an argument that affirms the quality of services one might expect under a universal health care system. However, it is a valid criticism of our existing system as well as a rebuttal to those who sing its praises. Truth be told, health care is only as good as the commitment of those who provide it. The argument that universal health care will make the practice of medicine less lucrative may…and I repeat may…have some merit. At the same time, are we to believe that the hippocratic oath is subject to suspension should the bottom line be diminished?

Given the incidence of malpractice and the other previously referenced negative reports on our health care system, it appears that ever increasing profits are no more a predictor of high quality health care than decreased profits would be of lesser quality care. Further, if those in the field of medicine predicate their performance upon profitability, we’re all one bad bottom line away from a botched procedure.

Unless and until we restore the word “care” to our health system, it won’t actually matter whether it is administered as a result of an open market construct (think 47 million uninsured) or as a function of some degree of universally mandated insurance. The provision of care ought to be a given; not an endless negotiation. It’s time we choose to do the right thing. It’s a matter of life and death.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

32 Responses to “More On That Alleged Best Health Care In The World - Part III”

  1. steve Says:

    Hope you are wearing a life jacket….

  2. christopher Radulich Says:

    I live in a 55 + community in florida with a lot of snowbird canadians. I recently went to a valentines dinner and was seated with 3 canadian couples. All of which were very adamant in preferring their system to ours.

  3. Lisa Says:

  4. Lisa Says:

  5. Christopher Radulich Says:

    Then there is this
    Wait for a Bed at Public Hospital Can Be Days

  6. Lisa Says:

    Big deal,you think they wait now just wait. There isn’t going to be any less people in need of a bed no matter Universal Healthcare or not.

    Actually there will be more people.

  7. Daniel DiRito Says:

    Ah, yes Lisa…if only the uninsured didn’t need health care. How dare they want a bed in the hospital!

    I find it ironic that some of the same people who have viewed Iraq so optimistically for years are so pessimistic when it comes to providing health care to more Americans. Makes me wonder if we’d rather focus on taking lives than saving them.

    How many years of universal health care could we have funded with the money spent in Iraq? And if and when the Iraq war is over, will those same people who supported that expense be opposed to spending some portion of those billions on health care? I can’t wait to see.

    Lisa, you’re always willing to state the negative. How about sharing your ideas on what we should do?



  8. Christopher Radulich Says:

    So, doctors had little Aiden and his mother airlifted to a hospital in Seattle. The transportation and hospital care were all covered by Nassey’s provincial healthcare insurance.

    A 67-year-old Brooklyn woman was taken in a private ambulance to Kings Highway Hospital Center on Dec. 16. The woman was turned away by an emergency room nurse, and died soon afterward of a heart attack at Brookdale Hospital and Medical Center.

    The death of the woman, Ruth Sultan of 2641 Brown Avenue, was reported last night by Alan G. Hevesi, the deputy Assembly majority leader, and confirmed later by the hospital.

    HREF=””>According to Seymour Reed, the acting director of the 210-bed private hospital at 3201 Kings Highway, the woman was denied emergency treatment because the hospital’s emergency room was overcrowded and its coronary care unit filled.

    Notice she was not airlifted and sent to another hospital at her insurers expense.

  9. Dusty Says:

    Notice Lisa’s own link shows that Canadian healthcare paid for the airlift of mother and son. Did she even read her own link?

    Seems that Lisa would rather let people die than have adequate healthcare..isn’t that the rightwing way- I got mine and to hell with you.

    At least with universal healthcare, everyone has an even chance of living..the way it is now..only those with money or that can afford the exorbitant costs of health insurance have a chance of living through a serious medical crisis.

    The assholes that owned the surgical units and outpatient clinics in NV wanted to ’save money’, regardless of the cost in human lives and/or suffering. How friggin quaint. I hope the criminal charges keep them in prison for a long time. Socialized medicine would end crap like that, wouldn’t it?

  10. Paul Watson Says:

    Not entirely, no. Everyone still has budgets and as it costs, there will always be pressure on managers. The NHS has problems with hospital acquired infection, caused by cheap cleaning services amongst other things, but I haven’t heard of anything like the NV incident.

  11. Lisa Says:

    What we should do is raise taxes to 50% so everyone can have health care like they do in every other socialized country. Tha’ts Hillary’s plan. I personally like Obama’s plan better to make it more affordable and mandatory to have .
    I know it said that Dusty. The people pay for it not the government or the people that pay taxes anyway.
    That’s why Canadians are taxed 55% of their income.
    And what Paul stated is what concerns me. If I am taxed to death to pay for the uninsured then my healthcare should be better than I get now.

  12. Daniel DiRito Says:


    If you’re “taxed to death” why would you need any health care?

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist. What the hey, we all need a little more levity, eh?


  13. Lisa Says:

    No need to apologize Daniel I’m not that sensitve as you probably already know :)

  14. Christopher Radulich Says:

    Sounds good to me. But then I think people are more important than money. I also believe in paying my bills, not leaving them for my kids and grandchildren.

  15. Lisa Says:

    Chris I take it you are retired and will not be affected?
    Yes people are mor important than money but what about the people that are struggling now and will get much less of their pay to take home? I guess heck with them let them strugle more right?

  16. Dusty Says:

    Taxes wouldn’t have to go up if we weren’t paying all those damn contractors to build permanent bases and shit in Iraq, or having to pay military soldiers hazardous duty pay to fight the worthless war in Iraq.

    Polls show that the majority of americans don’t mind paying more in taxes if it means everyone will have healthcare.

    Only selfish people bitch about taxes for universal healthcare. ;)

  17. Lisa Says:

    Taxes are going up when democrats take control war or not.
    “Polls show that the majority of Americans don’t mind paying more in taxes if it means everyone will have healthcare”

    Who did they poll rich people and poor people?

    “Only selfish people bitch about taxes for universal healthcare. ;)’

    This typical liberal statement is what one side,usually the democrats use,to make the other side look bad particularly the republicans.
    And it really depends on who you are talking about. Are you talking about the upper middle class people the democrats wanted to extend SCHIP to st the expense of lower income families who will be taking home half their incomes and now all of a sudden can afford that? Or are you talking about the lower income families who will take home half their income who can’t pay their mortgages now?
    I have no problem paying more for the uninsured and still be able to keep what I have but not be forced to give up half my income to cover 300 million and use a shoddy system which medicaid is now. The dentists don’t even have equpiment to sterilize their instruments. You know its not in the budget.
    That’s why I like Obama’s plan better than Hillary’s but I guess you prefer her plan? I think he’s understands the middle more,or should I say cares about the middle class more.

  18. Dusty Says:

    Taxes are going up when democrats take control war or not.
    There you go..making typical reichwing freeper-like statements Lisa..tsk tsk.

    Reagan raised taxes and isn’t he considered the god of modern conservatism?

    If you don’t use medicaid how can you judge it? It works for millions of Americans that are disabled or elderly. It needs to be fine-tuned but then..what doesn’t? Interestingly enough..BushCo cuts benefits for medicaid instead of ending corporate welfare..funny how that works isn’t it? Shows his priorities and most neocon’s as well.

    Your lack of concern about those less fortunate than yourself shows how little respect you have for humanity in general. Thanks for reminding me of that fact with your comment above.

  19. Lisa Says:

    Your lack of concern about those less fortunate than yourself shows how little respect you have for humanity in general. Thanks for reminding me of that fact with your comment above.

    There you go again with your typical liberal guilt trip. How did you pull that rationale out of what I said?

    Believe me Dusty there are plenty of people more fortunate than am. Maybe you rate fortunate different than I do but I waited till you challenged me on the Medicaid thing because I do have first hand knowledge of it. A Friend of mine uses it and yes it helps her to a point. She hates the dentist because she feels it’s not sanitary and she said they don’t sterilize the equipment properly and they get many aids patients that use them mainly getting it through shooting up.
    ” Taxes are going up when democrats take control war or not.
    There you go..making typical reichwing freeper-like statements Lisa..tsk tsk. ”
    And for the record Clinton had the highest tax increase in the history of our nation plus downsized the military so tsk tsk on you too. :(

  20. Dusty Says:

    If she doesn’t like the dentist..that isn’t the fault of Medicaid for christs sake.

    Give me a link to your statement about Billy and the highest tax increase in history..I really want to see that one.

  21. Dusty Says:

    Because this is really what ol Billy really did:
    In August 1993, Clinton signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, which passed Congress without a single Republican vote. It cut taxes for 15 million low-income families, made tax cuts available to 90% of small businesses,and raised taxes on the wealthiest 1.2% of taxpayers.

    Once again FREEPER logic Lisa..thanks for the laugh!

  22. Lisa Says:

    Medicaid is the ones who pay them and budgets them.

  23. Dusty Says:

    Oh and Lisa..this was enacted on Billy’s watch too btw:

  24. Dusty Says:

    Medicaid doesn’t tell you which dentist to pick for Christs sake.

  25. Lisa Says:

  26. Dusty Says:

    Now Reagan on the other hand:

    One year after his massive tax cut, Reagan agreed to a tax increase to reduce the deficit that restored fully one-third of the previous year’s reduction. (In a bizarre bit of self-deception, Reagan, who never came to terms with this episode of ideological apostasy, persuaded himself that the three-year, $100 billion tax hike–the largest since World War II–was actually “tax reform” that closed loopholes in his earlier cut and therefore didn’t count as raising taxes.)

    Faced with looming deficits, Reagan raised taxes again in 1983 with a gasoline tax and once more in 1984, this time by $50 billion over three years, mainly through closing tax loopholes for business. Despite the fact that such increases were anathema to conservatives–and probably cost Reagan’s successor, George H.W. Bush, reelection–Reagan raised taxes a grand total of four times just between 1982-84.

  27. Christopher Radulich Says:

    Lets not forget that reagan double the SS taxes. A payroll tax that republicans are suppose to abhor.

    And Yes my taxes will go up and it will probably hurt me more as I am retiree. Businesses are paying for health care now. The money they spend should go directly to the workers which would help relieve some of the tax burden.

    The fifties and sixties were high tax times, but the economy still performed well. The CEO’s and senior officers of company’s were not making the outrageuos salaries that they are making now. I certianly will not feel sorry for that making tens of millions of dollars if they have to give up more to taxes.

  28. Dusty Says:

    Thank you for reminding me Christopher! :) I am sure Lisa appreciates that as not.

  29. Paul Watson Says:

    Something like Nevada hasn’t happened here. It has happened under your system. So, given that we also pay less for the system, have longer lives and better health quality, what exactly are you afraid of?I’m being honest with you: The NHS is not perfect. However, it would be nice if you were equally honest and admitted your system also has problems. It would be nice, but I’m not expecting it.

  30. Lisa Says:

    So you do agree that Obama’s plan is better than Hillary’s. Me too.

  31. Lisa Says:

    I’m not afraid Paul. I can’t wait to have to wait 6 months if I ever need root canal. Is Novacaine allowed?

  32. christopher Radulich Says:

    So Lisa

    We are plunging further into debt every day. Social security and medicare have been in the black since the 80’s. How do you suggest we pay for our military?

    Pork identified in the Pig Book since 1991 totals $252 billion.
    the 2007 deficit was $163 billion. So cutting pork will not do it.

    Ps. Regan ended up with the largest federal deficits of any president except BushII

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