Category: medicine

My Scrape With Modern Medicine

Forget Obama Care. There are more serious things out there, and any one of them will make you thankful for any kind of medical care if you are unlucky enough to have those problems. Those problems revolve around critical organs like kidneys, livers, hearts, lungs, brains, etc. Well, some people have no problem getting along without a functioning brain, but I digress.

During my physical examination this last March, my EKG looked a bit out of the normal (what ever that is), and my personal physician recommended a stress test.

Two weeks later, I was in my doctor’s office for that stress test which I apparently flunked. My return visit, two weeks after the stress test culminated in the recommendation for a nuclear stress test. A nuclear stress test includes some stuff tainted with radio-active isotopes, injected into my veins while I was monitored by all sorts of paraphernalia.

Two weeks later, I was told I had flunked the nuclear stress test. I guess this was supposed to be a foregone conclusion, but I figured out that if there were an emergency, somebody would have called me. This time, my doctor tells me to go to a cardiologist.

After another two weeks, I went to see the cardiologist. It only took that long because I figured nothing was wrong, and the cardiologist was just CYA for the internal medicine guy. Besides, if anything were wrong somebody would have called me.

The first question the cardiologist asked me after reviewing my records was, “Why are you here?”

Ahhh…  Those words were nice to hear. Nevertheless, the cardio guy sent me to Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta for a coronary CT Scan. This is a regular CT scan, but involves being injected with a dye so that the images will be more pronounced. I queried the cardiologist at Piedmont about the risk of the dye on my one remaining kidney. It was possible for the dye to destroy my kidney, and I didn’t look forward to being on dialysis for the rest of my life.

He tested my blood on site to see if my kidney could handle the test. He also told me that he could not assess the real risk, and I had to sign an additional waiver for them to run the test. Death, as usual, was a potential result of the test.

One and one-half weeks later…

Yeah. I put off hearing about the test for a while. Besides, if there were something wrong somebody would call me. My cardiologist later told me that was not a good idea. I needed to pay more attention.

That’s when he told me that the tests for coronary artery disease were false. My testing had been a false positive. In the world of statistics, my tests resulted in a Type I error, a false positive.

I am very fortunate. Many men of my age have coronary artery disease, and some of those guys fall dead without warning. I am glad my doctors paid such close attention, and had me take confirmatory tests. It was all worth it.

Oh, and I will not wait for the doctor’s office to call me with test results, anymore. I will pester them on the idea that I just might have a problem that needs prompt attention.

The Dirty Little Health Care Secret

In reading the book Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, I learned about a field of study called, iatrogenesis.

Iatrogenesis is the degree of harm committed on patients by doctors and the health  care systems. In other words, iatrogenesis is all about how many people die because of errors by physicians and hospitals. The numbers are staggering.

According to one source, the number of deaths in the United States due to medical error is approximately 98,000! Remember, this number is from reported deaths, and may or may not be correct depending on how or whether errors are reported within a given hospital system.

The 98,000 to 100,000 number is supported by the references in this Newsweek article.

Other sources credit the number of deaths as over 225,000 patients. This is the number that brings iatrogenesis deaths up to the third largest killer in the nation. Even if this number is not correct, the 98,000 to 100,000 number is roughly equivalent to the deaths that would have been caused by a jumbo jet crashing, everyday.

One thing we do know is that the 100,000 level of iatrogenic deaths is conservative. Some say it is very conservative.

So, how does this affect us today? How does this affect Obama care? Here is my reasoning.

1. The mortality numbers published for the United States show our health system to be more deadly that many other countries. This difference is in large part attributable to our much larger number of doctors, hospitals, MRI and CT Scan machines per capita than any other country in the world.

2. It is obvious that the more health care you get, the greater you are at risk for being killed by the system.

3. According to Nicholas Taleb, the life expectancy of Americans will get longer as our medical care becomes rationed more and more like European health care.

You will notice that I have found one of the only positive things about Obama care. Even though everybody will pay more for healthcare, and everybody will get less healthcare, more people will live through the experience.

We will get the shaft from Obama in our healthcare system. Simply by the principles revealed in iatrogenesis, we should benefit.

How do you like them apples?

The War On Marijuana Is Lost

The government’s war on cannabis is basically lost. We should not be kidding ourselves about what is going on. I know that millions of people will not admit this fact, but it is true.

Medical marijuana is now legal to some degree in the following states and the District of Columbia.

  1. Alaska
  2. Arizona
  3. California
  4. Colorado
  5. Connecticut
  6. District of Columbia
  7. Delaware
  8. Hawaii
  9. Maine
  10. Michigan
  11. Montana
  12. Nevada
  13. New Jersey
  14. New Mexico
  15. Oregon
  16. Rhode Island
  17. Vermont
  18. Washington

Whatever reasons you have against the use of cannabis, the legalization of weed is gaining strength in the nation. I believe that in the next five years, marijuana will be legal in a majority of the states. A Gallup poll in 2011 showed that over 50% of people in the US favor legalizing cannabis.

Interestingly, a Los Angeles Times article recently reported that eighty percent of Californians support the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Yet fifty percent of Californians oppose the total legalization of the use of cannabis. In most polls the largest group of people opposing any use of cannabis is the Senior Citizens. Why do you thing that is?

There are several other states with legislation favorable to medical marijuana pending. They are:

  1. Illinois
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Missouri
  4. New York
  5. Ohio
  6. Pennsylvania

If the legislation passes in those states, there will be 23 states where medical marijuana is legal or decriminalized to some degree. The half-way mark for medical marijuana is only two states away from reality.

States where medical marijuana legislation has failed are listed below.

  1. Alabama
  2. Idaho
  3. Indiana
  4. Iowa
  5. Kansas
  6. Maryland
  7. Mississippi
  8. New Hampshire
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Tennessee
  11. West Virginia
  12. Wisconsin

This is one case where we should not be obsessing over the use of a drug. In my opinion we should totally legalize marijuana and take the criminal element out of it. It has never made sense to put people in prison for using drugs, and it makes even less sense putting people in prison for smoking marijuana. If somebody has an accident while high on a drug, then you can prosecute them as drunk drivers. It is the same principle.

It becomes a real problem for the federal government if most states legalize the use of cannabis. We will have to decide the wisdom and worth of the rights of sovereign states versus the right of the federal government to regulate. Interestingly, Attorney General Eric Holder’s policy is to not prosecute users, but to prosecute dealers. This is his way to not confront the power of the sovereign states, and to keep most of the Department of Justice out of jail.

According to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the ACA case, the federal government does not have the freedom to regulate commerce as they once thought. It will be interesting to see a marijuana case before the Supreme Court, and what the liberal judges say about that. I believe they would vote to legalize pot because most of them lived on weed while in college and law school. That’s what liberals and lawyers do.

What do you think about legalizing marijuana, or any other drug?

CYA Medicine

I was treated to a set of allergy tests, yesterday. Before the attendant could administer the tests, I was given several forms to sign. More than one was  long, and I was wondering if the attendant would be patient enough for me to read every word. When asked, she said, “No problem”. Yeah, sure. She wanted me out of there so she could clock in another paying customer.

The form in which I was particularly interested was the one that gives the doctor and his staff permission to do the tests, and exhonerates them of any culpability in case there are any problems. I had read these, before.

There was one side effect I was looking for, and I found it at the very end of the list.

Death.

Yes, every medical form in the United States serves as CYA to doctors and other health professionals if something goes wrong. There is not one doctor who can guarantee you will walk out of their office alive and well.

The medical world is this way because of lawyers. There have been so many bogus lawsuits that medicine is now being practiced on a Cover-Your-Ass basis. It is the fault of lawyers.

Sure, there are creepy and incompetent medical doctors out there, but there are more creepy and corrupt lawyers. There are lawsuits that are justifiable, but many are not. Witness the lawyer ads on television pimping one ambulance chaser or another. These guys are now specializing in whether they go after whiplash, internal injury, or asbestos cancer cases. They advertise the drugs for which there are class action suits.

The medical sector is a big target for our lawyer friends. They are fishing for victims.

Tomorrow, I go to a medical doctor to have a growth removed from my back. I will look, once again, to see if I am excusing them for killing me if things go wrong.

I am paying someone to stab me in the back. If he kills me, he cannot be held responsible, nor will he give me my money back for botching the job.

It’s a tough world out there.