Friday, February 19, 2016

Healthcare Weirdness - A Rant

I know I’ve waxed poetic about the status of healthcare here in the United States, however I was reminded of how lucky we are here in this country. As many problems as we have, what I heard today was indicative of the differences in other countries.

I was having breakfast with a friend, and she was telling me about some experiences that family and friends had in Canada. Imagine having a TIA, known as a mini-stroke, and being sent home from the hospital with orders to follow up with your general physician. No aspirin or blood thinning medication or consult to neurologists, just “follow up with your doctor in a few weeks.” My hospital would scan your head and run extensive testing, if not sending you immediately to have a procedure to clear up the blockage. Then you’d be an inpatient on a stroke floor. Hell, I’m on prophylactic medication twice a day to help prevent a problem.

My friend’s mom also went into the emergency room (in Canada) for rapid atrial fibrillation. This means that the upper chambers of her heart were not beating properly, which can cause clots to form in the heart. The heart also works harder and doesn’t push the blood around as it should. Her mother was discharged on one medication without any further admission or cardiology consults. Instead, there were orders to follow up with a cardiologist in a few months. My hospital would admit someone with rapid a-fib to at least a telemetry unit to have their heart monitored, if not right into the intensive care unit on cardiac drips (IV medications). Instead, my friend’s mom was shown the door.

Surgeries in Canada evidently take months to schedule, and simply seeing a physician often means lengthy waits which lead to poorer outcomes. I know that we have patients in the U.S. who refuse to come in until things are literally falling off of them, because they don’t want to halt their lives or admit that they haven’t watched their health. It’s sad, isn’t it? While I’m sitting here waiting for my insurance to clear all of the tests and procedures that I need, I know it will happen in a few weeks if not days. I was shocked to hear what I was hearing.

Waiting is hard, especially when you don’t feel well or want to return to your lifestyle. We need to have a look to see what is really going on in our healthcare systems. Our people in this world are becoming more and more unhealthy, even if they try to change their eating habits or ramp up the exercise. There are limited physicians and even less nurse practitioners able to practice independently. Our world is consumed with charting and such a fear of legal ramifications that we can’t treat people, and we sure don’t have much time to give them preventative education!

I’d like to hear from anyone in countries outside of the United States, and even those of you in the U.S. What have you seen that you believe hampers the people’s wellness? What have you seen that has impressed you about your healthcare system?

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  1. this is just stuff that I've seen in relation to me, not an across the board indictment of healthcare professionals! although some of these issues can be widespread, too (as i have noticed in the spoonie community).

    the number one hurdle i have run into? lack of belief. I began talking to my doctor about most of my current symptoms when i was a teenager. but people don't really take you too seriously when you're 16 and talking about major back pain. they think "you're a kid, wtf do you know about back pain."

    although my doc did give me good advice, he wasn't able to see enough of the picture to diagnose me. particularly when my parents didn't really believe me either, so my visits to him were very limited.

    financial access. yes, the ACA is a thing. but so is the medicaid loophole in some states - make too much for medicaid, but not nearly enough to buy an insurance program worth anything. and i've been stuck in that loophole for a while now. thanks, Texas. financial access is a close second for me.

    and the third? lack of knowledge. i have been truly concerned by the amount of people in healthcare who ask me "what's that?" when i tell them what i have. that's a scary feeling, to realize you know far more about something than a physician... and also that they're not necessarily going to listen to you, because you aren't in the medical field.

    but there are always gems!! I went to get implant birth control today, and my nurse practitioner looked up 1. my disease, 2. called 3 separate physicians to consult, and 3. made sure she found the appropriate literature on the subject before she did anything. I really do appreciate it when MHP go out of their way to make sure everything is a-okay!

    (this is Mel/Satan, not remembering her wordpress login 😂)

    1. Hi Mel,

      I'm sorry to hear you've been through your battles, and am also happy to hear that you were able to find an excellent provider in your nurse practitioner. I'm dealing with a lot of curiosity in the medical field with regards to my weird heart stuff, but the basic stuff should be known, I agree! Thank you so much for writing about your experiences.