My friend "Doc" Searls (co-author of the famous Cluetrain Manifesto)(http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/doc)is in the hospital in Boston instead of at SuperNova 2008. I've been following his blog as he goes through his various tests, and ends up with pancreatitis (a painful inflammation of the pancreas) brought on my one of the tests. He then has to take morphine. He then gets fluid in his lungs, which often happens to people in bed.
You get the picture. I'm not revealing any private information here; Doc is blogging about his hospital stay, even down to telling us what he would have said today at SuperNova.
But I, as the widow of a physician, a mother, and an unlicensed practitioner of American healthcare system mechanics, want to use this moment not only to wish Doc the best, but to draw a lesson: NEVER GO TO THE HOSPITAL ALONE. Take an advocate with you, and try to make sure that person is a New Yorker and very aggressive. Ask a million questions, and get your loved one the attention he/she needs.
The American health care system, while technologically still advanced, is -- from an actual care perspective -- woeful. You would care more actual "care' in a tribal village. The nurses are interchangeable, harassed, and consumed by paperwork. The doctors are on a revenue generation treadmill, and the big decisions are made by insurance companies or government agencies. And even though the bioscience and medical device fields are right up to date, the IT support for health care professionals is not. You can thank privacy laws for that. Paper records are the straw that breaks the system's back.
My son-on-law's mother just got prescribed a chemotherapy agent that nearly killed her, when a newer, more benign drug existed. The older drug was cheaper, so they tried it first. They only switched when she couldn't tolerate the cheap drug. Me, I was given a blood pressure drug that triggered bronchospasm, because it was the cheapest.
In addition to those horror stories, there are all the clinical errors that cause "iatrogenic" conditions -- meaning you got them from being in the hospital. I suspect Doc has a few of those. A friend of mine went into the hospital for back surgery and emerged with a staph infection that nearly killed him and required intravenous antibiotics administered at home for a year.
I was so scared to have my hip replaced that I started a blog when I checked into the hospital, so if they killed me there would be a record of it on the Internet and my family could benefit from the long tail.
Fortunately, I didn't die, and people from all over the world thank me for that blog.
Doc, get well soon. Everyone else, watch your back or get someone else to watch it if you have to be hospitalized.
(Cross-post from http://blog.stealthmode.com)
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