Broken

The healthcare system is broken.  It’s really bad.  It’s frustrating, it’s costly, and worst of all, it’s killing people.

This is one of the main reasons I’ve started blogging again.  Despite the fact that I have stepped outside of the system with my own practice, I am daily faced with our system failures.  It’s not frustration with what the system is doing to me as a doctor; it’s the total breakdown of care, the greedy behavior of the insurance industry, the corporate takeover of hospitals, and the gouging that pharmaceutical companies. They are doing this at (in the name of “care”) at the expense of my patients.  

I’m not sure why, but it seems as if the COVID pandemic accelerated the rupture of the system.  I’ve long written about problems, but never have I had less confidence in the rest of the system.  This past week alone I dealt with the following:

  • A patient arriving at the ER at 8 AM being told there was a 16 hour wait.
  • Shortages of multiple drugs I prescribed for my patients.
  • Specialists who can’t see patients for 5 months.
  • Patients being treated harshly by medical professionals.
  • Insurance interfering with my prescribing of generic drugs.
  • Patients discharged from the hospital not knowing their discharge instructions, and not knowing why they were hospitalized.
  • Durable medical goods unavailable for months.
  • Patients with a significant medical need not getting an important (and effective) drug because people are prescribed the medication for off-label by rogue providers.

And there appears no effort to fix the problem.  Nobody is calling the insurance carriers to task for reaping huge profits while patient care  gets lower quality and higher cost.  Nobody seems alarmed at the corporate takeover of hospitals (two in our area) that do nothing to improve care, instead making our local hospitals more accountable to shareholders than patients.  Drug costs are skyrocketing.  The average cost of medications released in 2022 was $20,000 per year.  

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

My hope is to put faces on this crisis by telling the stories of the people I care for who are harmed by our broken system.  Stories about people like the woman with a possible acute abdomen who waited all day before being seen by a doctor in the ER.  Like the elderly man with progressive weakness and jaundice who I sent home instead of the ER because I lacked any confidence that they would take care of him as he needed.  Like the man whose insurance denied a potentially life-saving drug, despite meeting all of the criteria and having both mine and a specialists recommendation to get the drug.  

This is not opinion.  This is real life.  This is not a rant about politics; it’s about people afraid to use the system that is supposed to help them in the hour of their greatest need.  It’s letting them down.  It’s letting all of us down.  It needs to be fixed.

Or eventually it might just kill you.

Photo by Marianna Smiley on Unsplash