Comments by Diana F Scholl, Portland
Here is an important article highlighting the on-going issues related to accessibility of drugs within our healthcare system. It is based on the Cleveland Clinic and they fully co-operated with the NYT to get this story out. I saw it in the hospital I worked in when the shortages started a few years ago. It is extremely important to our argument for the reason we need to have a single payer system which is regulated fairly and equitably for all.
You will note that the headline dares to use the verboten word rationing—thank you NYT! It recurs throughout the article as they try to assess how decisions are made as to who actually gets a drug that may be life giving and who does not even if the result may be the end of life. Sample criteria for various drugs: age; weight; whether you are in a clinical trial (or not.) Too many times medical ethics is NOT involved which is shocking to me who has been trained in this field over the past 15 years.
Also note that this story exposes and supports the argument that “ death panels” (via rationing of all types of things from meds to access to treatment at all) may indeed exist as Sarah Palin claimed. But they actually are NOT functioning as she claimed when docs with patients/families are deciding what treatment they want and what they do not want. In my area of work (palliative care and hospice), we probably have more openness and clarity than at any other point in one’s trajectory of using health care during one’s life. That said, we too have a ways to go.
Using “death panels” as scare tactics was a political tactic that touched on anyone’s worst fears. But digging deeply into the issue of who gets treatment and who doesn’t is actually necessary and helps us understand what changes really need to happen. Maybe that’s scary to some (especially if it means a worse bottom line in their business), but I suspect that we can all deal with fear if it is based in knowledge and reality and hopefully highlights a way forward.Read More