"There are only two ways of telling the complete truth—anonymously and posthumously."Thomas Sowell

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Health Care Delayed Is Health Care Denied

In a situation that is all too common in single-payer, government-run medical systems such as those in Canada and Great Britain, a man in England died last week of a heart attack after his surgery was delayed because his doctor called in sick fifteen minutes before the operation was to take place. The Times of London reports:

A RETIRED businessman died of a suspected heart attack just 24 hours after his heart operation had been cancelled at the last minute.

The day after John Mosley, 65, died a nurse phoned his widow to give her a new date for the operation. . . .

Mr Mosley had already had pre-op medicine for a heart valve operation at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield when it was cancelled. Just 15 minutes before he was due in the operating theatre, his surgeon called in sick. . . .

Mrs Mosley said yesterday: “We feel we have been robbed. We feel if he had had his operation he would still be here today. The coroner has confirmed that he died because his heart valve packed up. I am hurt and very angry at the National health Service.

“The day after he died a nurse phoned me to say would he go in on Sunday, ready to be operated on the following day. I said, ‘He won’t be there. He has died.’

“I said if it had been done last Monday he would still be here. They could only apologise. I haven’t heard anything since then. I would have hoped someone would have phoned me.”

She added: “That would have helped a bit and it would have meant something to me. My son will complain to the hospital. There is nothing else we can do.”

She is right, of course. There is nothing else they can do. That is the reality of single-payer systems.


Hunter Baker said...

I recall a WSJ article about the Canadian Health Service in which patients literally begged not to be sent home after being rescheduled for the umpteenth time. The Canadian bureaucrat in charge said that waiting must be a part of any efficient health system. She's right, in a sense. If you don't have prices in the monetary sense, there will be a substitute, in this case, time. Unfortunately, it may be worse to run out of time than to run out of money.

brmerrick said...

Seeing how governments appear to be less and less accountable these days, under nationalized health care there will be no redress of grievances for families such as this, who lose loved ones due to government failure.

In the free market, this doctor would be out of a job, and the hospital would be out of untold millions in damages, since the government has no problem with private individuals paying for their mistakes.

But the government, no matter how "compassionate", will never pay.

And the American Left will never learn.

James Elliott said...

See, what you ought to do is look at ACTUAL proposed national health programs from the Left. They don't resemble the Canadian and European systems. The best of them might best be compared to the school voucher systems y'all love so dearly.

Hunter Baker said...

Why would I want to look at an ACTUAL proposed program. We had ACTUAL proposals on what the War on Poverty and Social Security would cost and they were bogus beyond belief. Better to look at ACTUAL ACTUAL programs in existence.

James Elliott said...

That's a nonsense answer.

Hunter Baker said...

No, your reply is nonsense. I'm saying you get a better understanding of how these things work out in reality by observing reality. Pretty simple. Pretty much the opposite of nonsense.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Has anyone seen Queen Elizabeth in a hospital waiting room? Cherie Blair?

Tlaloc said...

The idea of using free markets to control health care is unbelievably stupid. Even in the few cases that free markets actually do work they absolutely must have certain attributes. The consumer must have a choice and must be able to make an informed choice. Neither of these is the case in most health care decisions.

Anywhere but a large city there is going to be a severe restriction on available choices for medical proceedures in a timely manner. I grew up in Eugene which at 100,000 people is not exactly a tiny place. It has one hospital and one clinic which is owned by said hospital. You want to go somewhere else? It's a hundred miles to Portland. Hope that medical need wasn't an emergency.

The idea that the common man can make an informed choice about health care providers is equally stupid. I'm a smart guy but you put three cardiologists in a room with me and I have no idea which is the best and which is a quack. It's not my area.

My mother on the other hand worked at said hospital in Eugene and she several times dictated which doctors could and couldn't treat me because she did know who could be trusted and who couldn't. I almost certainly recieved better care because of it but that's a resource few people have access to.

Besides which the fact is that in the canadian system health care ends up costing less in total and giving better service. Yes there are delays. How you can construe that waiting for health care (Canadian system) is better than never getting it (American system for the uninsured- about 45 million americans) is quite a feat of mental gymnastics.

Tlaloc said...

"No, your reply is nonsense. I'm saying you get a better understanding of how these things work out in reality by observing reality. Pretty simple. Pretty much the opposite of nonsense."

While it is a fairly conservative view point it is also demonstrably wrong. Your argument is predicated on the idea that nothing new can ever be done, because of course if you did something new having observed the past "reality" would not help you predict the future. As JE said if the left wants to try a different method of health care then holding up examples of what they aren't doing as failures is moot. (especially when you get the "failure" part wrong as above)