Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Time to fight for your life

It comes to something when you have to stage the equivalent of a sit-in at your local hospital to avoid dying. However it would seem that might be what you have to do in future if you think your medical advisors haven’t understood how sick you are, or if you think they have failed to correctly diagnose your condition.

18-year-old Ben Brown of Whangarei might still have been alive if he had known to refuse to leave the hospital when doctors TWICE sent him home and told him he was okay. Ben died of meningococcal disease last week after doctors at Whangarei White Cross Accident & Medical Clinic and the Whangarei Hospital Emergency Department both failed to realise what was wrong with him.

Now I understand meningococcal disease is difficult to diagnose, but isn’t that all the more reason to take no risks when somebody presents with the symptoms? Surely it would be far better to hold a few people overnight to ensure they don’t have the disease than send them home where they can (a) die through lack of appropriate treatment and (b) pass it on to another?

Furthermore isn’t it worrying how careless our medical profession is becoming? I can’t help feeling it is part of the general malaise wherein people don’t give a stuff about doing their job properly and have insufficient vision to see the bigger picture.

Actually it is worse than that because the majority of us simply accept these lower standards instead of confronting the lazy and the stupid and ‘waking up their ideas’.

I have experienced two examples of incompetent medical practices since moving to Tauranga (only 4 years ago). I was once wrongly diagnosed and twice given the wrong treatment by my (now ex) doctor. And before anyone tells me diagnosis is a difficult art; I should point out that in the case of the misdiagnosis I had suggested what might be wrong and was rubbished and dismissed out of hand and given the wrong medication. Trouble was; I was spot on.

In the other case I was given the wrong treatment for several months with no improvement whatsoever until I sought alternative treatment and the matter was cleared up almost immediately.

Following these two incidents and some extremely unprofessional doctoring experienced by my wife at the same practice we changed to another. All of which reinforced to me the importance of taking responsibility and control off your own health. Changing practices was a revelation. We now attend a medical centre that has a good feel to it and where the doctors actually know who you are when you enter their surgery and (shock horror) you will find they have read your notes before seeing you!!!! Another bonus for us was that we learned that our previous practice is charging more than any other in Tauranga and more than twice what we pay now.  For those of you who live in Tauranga and are less than satisfied with your doctors, I commend this link where you can find out how much the others are charging. http://www.bopdhb.govt.nz/PDFs/GP-Fees.pdf

Elder care is another and even scarier proposition as I have also had cause to find out this year. The entire system is myopic. For the benefit of those who haven’t dealt with this yet, here are some words of warning.

If your folks are getting old and need some assistance in the home; good luck. Unless you have screeds of money to pay for it (or they do) you will get bugger all and furthermore you will be buggered about every step of the way. The problem arises if they don’t have a serious physical infirmity. If they are completely buggered then they will get help (I am told – though probably not very reliably). However if they can walk and seem to know what day it is (give or take a day or two), then the assistance available to them is negligible.

If for example one parent is a bit difficult and requires a lot of extra care you can EVENTUALLY get them into some kind of temporary care to give the other party a break. However if this has been going on for any length of time and the carer is really stressed out; then tough luck. Unless the carer has a physical infirmity it would seem the system considers removing the other party is all that is needed. A full-blown nervous breakdown and all that entails (or a heart attack or stroke) would appear to be required before that person gets any assistance at all. If you are about to enter the point where your parents need some of this sort of help, then I hope you have lots of money because if you don’t you will need lots of stamina and you will feel like you are constantly bashing your head against a brick wall.

So when the cheerleaders in their eye-catching blue and red rosettes starting flaunting themselves around trying to get your vote in a couple of months time, ask them what they are going to do about it.

We see grinning idiots up here every other week cutting ribbons to open new parts of a hospital or whatever other bright shiny distraction they have provided in the place of any proper treatment. So why not corner these turkeys and ask them why they prefer to bail out banks and insurance companies than put effort and money into health care.

Ask these dorks how they think an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff is ever going to be more economical than a well built fence at the top. We need to apply a blowtorch to these politicians’ nether regions until they find the pain too much to bear and start paying attention to their electorate.  

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