Emergency room response, Canada versus US

Only anecodotal, but thought I’d pass it on.  Two or three weeks ago while visiting in Canada, I suffered a TIA.  Short, not serious and subsequent tests showed no worrisome conditions or abnormalities (I ought to note the event happened during a raucus family wedding and there were certain types of misbehavior involved).  My wife took control of the auto and we zipped to the hospital on Vancouver Island where I was taken in and tested with an administrative delay of five minutes.

By way of contrast, last evening I drove my wife to the hospital as she was experiencing some symptoms which might have been heart-related (they weren’t, as it turned out…everything quite fine heart-wise).  We sat in the emergency waiting room for four hours before a doctor saw her.

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4 responses to “Emergency room response, Canada versus US

  1. happens here, too, bern…you arrived at a hospital at a good time. we’re worried here about emergency time waiting and overuse and overflow…many good things about our Canada health care and the funding that flows into health care, but not a system we don’t want to improve, and not one we avoid arguing about amongst ourselves

  2. As this is my blog, it seems quite reasonable to consider any disagreement or argument coming from another as a direct and mean-spirited personal attack. And, it goes without saying, groundless.

    That said, my magnanimosity instructs me to acknowledge receipt of such communications. In this particular case (because it’s quite a lovely morning here in the nation that freed itself from British oppression) I’ll even take time to respond, though not much time.

    The battle here between the entities profiting from the med insurance status quo and those who would advance some significant component of government-run insurance is, in its public manifestation, a battle of “stories”.

    The fundamental marketing tool used by the PR operations funded and directed by the status quo crowd has been “the horror stories” of medical delivery in Canada, Britain and elsewhere. Some of these accounts are accurate but most are disingenuous, misleading or false. But that’s to be expected as this is, from their viewpoint, merely a marketing game and one with significant potential consequences for those who presently profit by that status quo.

    This is a very effective PR tool because of how our minds work. We see an event or hear an account of an event and we tend to assume that it will represent the way things normally go. Students doing grad work are pretty standardly trained to avoid that response because it is 1) common and 2) seriously deficient as a means of establishing the truth of things or for predicting future events/trends. Someone or some institution which forwards the ‘anecdotal’ while diverting attention away from serious statistical analyses is either insufficiently educated or is a propagandist. My account above is in service of the latter option.

    In fact, the Obama administration is now launching a campaign which will provide many anecdotal instances of ‘horror stories’ falling out from the current US system. That is a propaganda operation.

    But it is one which I support because its motivation is commendable and because the thesis behind it is backed by serious scholarship and analyses.

    You know all of this but as it’s my blog, I have the inherent right to pontificate with unique gusto.

    Digby, at Hullaballoo (have I encouraged you to attend to her blog?…She’s an exceptional writer and smart as hell) notes how medical insurance company CEOs manage to access quality health care…they get extremely rich. Here’s just a few figures I’ve copied from her recent post:

    * United Health Group
    CEO: William W McGuire
    2005: 124.8 mil
    5-year: 342 mil

    * Forest Labs
    CEO: Howard Solomon
    2005: 92.1 mil
    5-year: 295 mil

    * Caremark Rx
    CEO: Edwin M Crawford
    2005: 77.9 mil
    5-year: 93.6 mil

    * Abbott Lab
    CEO: Miles White
    2005: 26.2 mil
    5-year: 25.8 mil

    * Aetna
    CEO: John Rowe
    2005: 22.1 mil
    5-year:57.8 mil

    bern

  3. hmm, yes, well, as i was suggesting, some in the American argument might have a strategic reason to call forward the health care systems in other countries for a wee medal and a pat, or to do the opposite – kick the shit out of it – but, it seems to me, all one might say from this side is that the Canadian system is flawed, naturally enough, but that it is available to everyone here at adjusted rates that does not prevent any of us receiving medical care. How satisfactory the service turns out to be for Canadians is our story, and everyone has their story and their own reasons for telling it.

  4. Brent
    Take a look at Klein’s piece above (and the Eggen/Kindy article linked). Other aspects of the economy (notably defense-related industries/services but other deep-pocket activities such as media, resource extraction, banking etc etc as well) engage government officials in the same manner. Thus the common description of Washington as a government/industry revolving door.

    Lots more to say on this, of course.

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