The Food on the Titanic

Health care is broken.  Badly broken.  I was making a list of areas in which the system is broken (not human error, but system error), and I got up to 53 in one sitting.  When I tweeted this, a good friend and fellow blogger wondered why I didn\’t start a list of things that are right about health care.  I pondered a bit whether I was just being a nabob of negativism.*  Surely there are good things about our system that balance the bad.
Well, there are definitely positive things, especially the people who work in medicine, but I don\’t know if their existence \”balances\” out the bad.  It\’s like saying the quality of food on the Titanic was great.  Or it\’s like saying that, despite your terminal cancer, your skin looks fabulous.  Both of these facts may be true, but you had best consider the negative first and address it if you can before you dwell on the positives.

On the other hand, I don\’t want this blog to turn into a whine-fest.  A voice that is only critical will soon be ignored.  So I am going to start two series of blog posts: one focused on the negatives, and one focused on what I like about being a doctor.  I should point out that I have always tried to share the joys I find in medicine (like my most recent post, for example), but I do think my voice needs to be balanced.  The problems still greatly outweigh any positives, just as the sunken ship will ruin the food and the cancer will eventually destroy the skin.

But if I start to sound whiny, please let me know.  The reason I am pointing out the negatives is because I firmly believe two things:

  1. Most people don\’t have any idea just how broken the health care system is.
  2. There are solutions to many of the problems – solutions that are not being talked about nearly enough.

In the end, I am an optimist.  I also like to fix things.  I hope the negative tone doesn\’t drown that out.

* 1 point if you know the historical significance of this term

8 thoughts on “The Food on the Titanic”

  1. I agree your nattering negativity is overblown. I too could come up with 50 things I don’t like about, say, my wife.  But there’s a lot of good things that more than outweigh the bad. If you can only focus on the bad, you need to see a divorce lawyer, or, out of the metaphor, a career counselor.
    I think of the healthcare system like a Rube Goldberg machine: it’s slapped together, inefficient, more than a little maddening, and amazing that it works at all. But it does work — mostly. So let your optimism reign, and work to change what you can.

  2. The negative doesn’t drown out the positive.  I’ve been bonding heavily with our healthcare system on the patient side of late, and something’s gotta give. 

  3. I think we frequently forget the successes of health care. A friend of mine has a son with stage 3B testicular cancer, but is told that he’ll have a 50-75% chance of survival. That may not sound great, but it’s a helluva lot better than it would have been even 30 years ago. that’s just one example. How many people died of smallpox last year? Or syphilis? Or polio? The answer to all three is the same: so few that even one is newsworthy. Yes once upon a time all three killed indiscriminately.
    In the US we often let the perfect become the enemy of the good. What we have is far from perfect, but it’s still really damned good for the vast majority of citizens.

  4. You have to identifiy something as broken before you try to fix it. Those who make sure we all understand the broken-ness of something are an essential part of the process.   

  5. I’d settle for knowing that someone CAN fix it.  Even as I say that, I think “in a way that won’t harm me.” 

  6. I think your spot on. I sometimes think that insurance is the problem. Those who can’t afford it can’t access the great healthcare and even those who have insurance often can’t afford the copays and other costs associated with actually getting treatment. But what is the remedy? Having many internet friends across the globe. They are often flabbergasted with associated costs with our healthcare system. They are often getting the same or better quality of care at a much lower out of pocket cost. Even including their taxes for their healthcare. But our Medicare is a joke and Medicaid worse apparently for both doctors and patients. If you are “lucky” enough to qualify for Medicaid good luck finding a doctor to treat you. Understandably as they are not compensated enough. Then when you are sick you either hope for the best or head to the local ER as they are required to see you. That adds to the costs for everyone.I would love to see a solution. I don’t think you are too negative and we can’t just stick our heads in the sand. We need dialogue and reasonable answers. People are suffering and dying needlessly because of our broken system.
    Thanks for your blog. Perhaps it is one of the steps to making a change that helps. You never know.

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