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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Americans and Frogs

I wrote this one in 1995, but things are worse now ((the world))

We all make choices everyday. Some crucial, some not, and sometimes the ones that didn’t seem significant in the moment turn out to change our lives forever. We choose based on the best information available at the time and either live with the result or try to correct the mistake.  When you know you have something like neurofibromatosis, the choices are different.

Making choices about our health care may seem insignificant when we are young and healthy. We may think we don’t need the best of the best—until the worst happens. But regardless of our choice, ill health can impact us for the rest of our lives. Sickness may leave us destined to the never-ending challenge of fire quenching and racing at 100 rpm’s in neutral while attempting to procure what we need to help make us well or at least make us feel better.

Fighting health institutions that are meant to protect us would be a daunting task for anyone, but for someone sick and in pain, it is indescribable, especially if one is fighting alone. With no one to help make the calls, write the letters and do battle with the powers that be, it is always tempting to give up and withdrawal into the very private hell of pain, despair and hopelessness. One just doesn’t have the resources to spare when ill.

While the responsibility of taking care of ourselves is certainly ours, the responsibility to provide the best possible care for those that who fall ill lies squarely on the shoulders of the purveyor of health services. The people that promised to be there if the unthinkable happens: the insurer and the provider of care. Unfortunately, we have reached a new low with regard to the quality of health care. And while there is plenty of finger-pointing to go around, we must try to tease out blame from responsibility.

The inurer's responsibility is to pay what they promised to pay, in a timely manner without causing more pain to the patient. The provider’s responsibility is to deliver the best care possible, apart from whatever the surrounding politics of the facility may be. If the facility’s objectives are not in the best interest of the patient, they best re-examine their motives and mission statements or open themselves up to more and more lawsuits. Frivolous lawsuits, especially the class-action type that cause institutions to scream for tort reform year after year, have made it difficult for those with legitimate complaints of wrong-doing.

And there are plenty of legitimate complaints. Plenty of wrong-doing. Plenty of turning a blind eye to those that are ill. It is bad enough when the general public looks down it’s nose at those in need, but when the very people in charge of helping the hurting do the same, it’s disgraceful. When a healthcare provider is more interested in their politics and policies, when patients are not the first, second or even third concern of the administrators, that attitude trickles down to the doctors, nurses and other care-givers, leaving patients with no where to turn for whatever problem that brought them there in the first place.

Which brings me to the story of the frog. When dropped in boiling water, it will hop out of the pot in an effort to save it’s own life. But if the frog is in water that is room temperature and the heat is slowly increased in small increments, it won’t notice when it’s about to boil to death. Is it me, or is it getting hot in America?

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