John Taylor: June 08, 2007
It's chaos. It's criminal. It's contradictory. Here are some snippets from the nation's health care "system."
- Charity Hospital went belly-up when Katrina smeared New Orleans. So now, with no charity care system in place, the specialists who take emergency call have to track down individual patients for payment. As the numbers of uninsured rise so do the numbers of uncompensated docs, in an area critically short of health professionals. The New Orleans Times Picayune reports one group of docs has filed a $100 million lawsuit against the state for acting as uncompensated "surrogates" for the state.
- The feds have warned LA's much-troubled Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital that the hospital has only weeks to fix its dangerous emergency room or lose all federal funding. The LA Times recently reported that a woman writhed in pain on a floor in the ER lobby for 45 minutes, as a janitor cleaned around her. She later died. Said LA County Supervisor Yvonne Burke, whose district includes the hospital, "I don't have confidence. I have hope."
- Washington Post columnist David Broder, quoting an Emory University health policy expert: 75% of health care costs and 7 out of every 10 deaths are attributable to chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Obesity, which has doubled in 30 years, accounts for 30% of the increase in health costs during that period.
- As a thank-you to its 8,300 employees, UC San Francisco Medical Center gave each a $70 iPod, Modern Healthcare reported. In its next item, the magazine reported a study that found iPods disrupted pacemaker readings when held within two inches of a patient's chest.