Nurse Gives Rectal Exam to Sicko

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Over at RealClear Politics is what I hope proves to be merely the first volley of an all-out carpet bombing of Michael Moore's latest agitprop, Sicko, in which he ignores the abject failure of socialized medicine everywhere it has been tried as he attempts to convince his audience that it will somehow "work" if tried in America.

The article is by Helen Evans, director of Nurses for Reform, an organization of European nurses "dedicated to consumer-oriented reform of European health-care systems". Its title is, "What Michael Moore left on the cutting room floor", and its first three paragraphs should pique the interest of anyone who has even the remotest concern for his health:

Michael Moore's denunciation of America's health-care system is about to hit the silver screen. In the film's trailer, a desk attendant at a British hospital smiles while explaining that in Britain's National Health Service, "everything is free." But for free hospital care, Britons pay an awfully high price.

Just ask the nearly 1 million British patients on waiting lists for treatment. Or the 200,000 Britons currently waiting merely to get on NHS waiting lists. Mr. Moore must have missed those folks.

Curiously, though, many American policymakers seem to think that a government-managed, NHS-style system is the answer to all of America's health-care woes. Before heading down that road, however, America's leaders ought to actually investigate Britain's experience with state-sponsored medical care. [bold added]
Miss Evans knows that for nurses everywhere to have a better shot at saving lives, she must first perform a post mortem on the system Michael Moore would foist upon his countrymen. And so she does, describing, among other things, the high rate of infections acquired by patients as a result of checking into hospitals, the results of shortages within the system, and rationing -- the final, predictable result of any attempt to provide necessities by government decree.

Her picture is very bleak, although even she had to leave out a few details, such as the fact that smokers in Britain will be denied certain surgeries altogether or made to wait longer for treatment they "still likely" may get if they do not quit. In addition, some physicians there are already also denying treatment to drinkers and the obese. Perhaps she ran into space limitations -- or maybe she wondered whether the full truth, being stranger than even Moore's most outlandish fictions, might strain her readers' credulity.

And then she necessarily also had to leave out Cuba, which Moore famously visited during the making of this propaganda piece in defiance of American law. I needn't discuss the Cuban system in any detail either, since the following news excerpt from The Chicago Tribune (blogged here) just about makes doing so at all unnecessary.

Medical procedures for show may be new to audiences in the States, but they're old hat in Latin America:
Some Cubans express resentment at the resources being poured into Mision Milagro, complaining that foreigners get better medical treatment than they do. Other Cubans seethe as they watch foreign patients driven to and from hospitals in new Chinese luxury buses while they wait for hours for scarce public transportation. [bold added]
Mision Milagro, by the way, is a program financed by Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, which is being used to gain popularity for socialism by providing free eye operations to the poor throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Needless to say, their friends and relatives will see their improved vision when they return, but will remain blind to what life is really like for those who already live under socialism -- unless, of course, they succeed in imposing it upon themselves, at which point it will be too late for most of them.

Government officials want two things: (1) to have life and death power over others and (2) to appear to be all-powerful to everyone else. Is it any wonder then, that they universally ignore those they can take for granted, while pulling out all the stops for those not yet under their power? Specifically, is it really any surprise that Cuba and Venezuela are collaborating to put on Mision Milagro? Or that they do it at the expense of decent care for Cubans and Venezuela's coffers? Why the hell would anyone in his right mind accept what a medical system, run by a politician who doesn't govern him, does at face value? And, for that matter, why would he want a government official in charge of his medical care?

For all their disdain of capitalism, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, and Michael Moore don't just epitomize the very worst imaginable caricature of hucksterism any of them could possibly impute to capitalism: They remind us that snake oil salesmen, needing consenting victims, are harmless by comparison.

If Mision Milagro sounds like a bait-and-switch scheme, Sicko should sound like false advertising at best. Unfortunately, your health is at stake, and the funny thing about the government is that unlike in the case of a lousy business, you're not free to go elsewhere.

-- CAV


Adrian Hester said...

Yo, Gus, you write: "Nurse Gives Rectal Exam to Sicko." Not only that, she also gave one to Michael Moore--which allowed her to kill three birds with one stone by giving him eye and ear exams at the very same time!

Gus Van Horn said...

That one made me laugh out loud!

And here's something else. Since doctor's appointments invariably take half a day (and often torch the remainder anyway), I schedule them in twos when I can.

Today, I had a morning appointment for a prophylactic medication I need for a trip I will be taking soon. I learned via a casual glance when I was talking to the doctor (a resident) an hour later that the nurse who transcribed my history had completely misspelled the name of a common medication I have to take to keep my rosacea and adult acne in check.

I then had to ask the doctor for the (new) medication by name after he completely got wrong why I needed it. (But he is a resident. His attending would have, I hope, recalibrated him if I hadn't. I did this as diplomatically as I knew how. And good thing I did: What he wanted me to take has drowsiness as a side effect. I want to remain conscious for this trip.)

When I don't take the other medication for long enough, I can sometimes break out very badly. The last time this happened, a checkout girl asked me, "What happened to your face?"

After an eye appointment in the afternoon, I went to the pharmacy, which had already erroneously rejected me twice for the rosacea medication. Through a series of phone calls while waiting for said appointment, I determined that my pharmacy had my doctor's correct fax and phone and that my physician's staff had my pharmacy's correct fax and phone. I had verified that my doctor had indeed faxed over permission for my prescription to be filled. (I had originally phoned it in with four days to spare and it was now two days overdue.)

After my eye appointment, which miraculously went uneventfully, I went to the pharmacy. You guessed it: They still didn't have my medicine.

But two people there remembered the fax. They ransacked the joint trying to find it. When they started going through the trash, I went to my car, got my cell phone, and called my doctor so I could hand it to one of them and grant verbal permission. Just as I was about to do this. They found the damned fax.

This is nothing, though. Just get the government into the mix and all this will look like the essence of efficiency.

In perspective: I can fire my pharmacy (and probably will), the doctor (and the nurse, judging by her age) were trainees, and I still got everything I needed, although one thing was slightly delayed. (And at the first sign of trouble, I began rationing my remaining medicine.) Both appointments I set up only days ago.

Joseph Kellard said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but when Castro was near death recently, didn't he have a doctor from Spain come to Cuba to treat him? Apparently, there are no good doctors in Cuba's superior health care system who could save him.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thank you, Joseph! According to the tail end of this Ken Blackwell column:

"As the debate over health care reform continues, Americans should remember Dr. Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido. He was the Spanish surgeon flown to Cuba to operate on Fidel Castro. It seemed that Cuban doctors botched the job on el presidente and needed outside help. I wonder if they made Dr. Garcia Sabrido available to other Cubans during his visit? I must have missed that part in "Sicko.'"

And that puts my day into perspective.

(And on that subject, I recalled later that there was one bad part about my ophthalmologist visit today, and it was caused by government interference in the medical sector: According to my doctor, an official basically ordered the only manufacturer of drops that can reverse pupil dilation to build an entirely new facility. They weren't making enough money, so the simply closed. As a result, my eyes remained dilated until about 9:00 pm.)