Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Pots, Pans and EMR

Although the Brits' MVNHS© is frequently in our crosshairs, it's certainly not the only troubled nationalized health care scheme. Proponents often point to Sweden as a model of how well such systems can work. Leaving aside the fact that the Swedish population is much more homogenous than our own (or Britain's, for that matter), it's helpful to note that even that country's health care system is far from perfect:

"An overcrowded hospital in Gothenburg has resorted to giving patients in a children's ward saucepans and spoons to summon assistance in emergency situations."

But surely that's a one-off, right?

You be the judge:

"At another department, the staff shopped at hardware chain Clas Ohlsson to buy bells for their patients ... The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) found that hospital overcrowding is common at all nine of western Sweden's hospitals with emergency departments."

In addition to all the other (literal) bells and whistles, there's an acute shortage of hospital beds; this increases risks to patients' safety, let alone health. And it's not a new problem, either:

"We have for years nagged about the problem of overcrowding, but nothing happens," a caregiver reports.

On the other hand, the Swedes have been successful in reining in health care costs, right?

Um, not so much:

"The cost of paying for harm done to patients in the Swedish healthcare system has nearly doubled in the last decade."


It's easy to cut costs by supplying inferior health care, of course, but short cuts work only in the short run. Eventually, patients suffer, and they bring in the lawyers, costing the system tens of millions of dollars, and exacerbating the already critical problems facing the "Swedish Patient Insurance Scheme" [ed: really? They freely admit it's a "scheme?" Yup]. And just what kinds of problems are those?


"Mixed up test results, injuries suffered during childbirth, infections following surgery, and incorrect drug dosages are just a few of the medical errors that reveal it can be harmful to a patient’s health to end up at a Swedish hospital."

One wonders if they also practice meatball surgery.

The aforementioned MVNHS© continues its downward spiral, as well. If you're a Brit who expected a bit of personal privacy, then you may want to practice that stiff-upper-lip move:

"A new NHS computer system that will share the medical history of millions of patients with drug companies without proper consent is under attack from privacy experts, who say it is misleading, risky and potentially illegal."

Possibly also fattening.

The new system puts online a lot more information, which is supposed to be "anonymized." The problem is, there's so much info that, according to Dr Ian Brown of the Oxford Internet Institute, "participants in research can be "trivially" re-identified."

Add to that the fact that they've not been asked to consent to this new intrusion on their privacy, and one wonders why we're so bent on adopting our own version of national health care.
blog comments powered by Disqus