Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Captive Malpractice

I like to comment on the medical news and the NY Times recently provided good Blog fodder.

If you haven't read the story yet, you should. It provides a window into the penal system that we seldom see and shows that the NY Times, for all their faults, is still capable of excellent reporting. Note that in interests of full disclosure, I really wish I had some stock in the NYT to disclose, sadly I do not. Nor do I own any other newspapers, but I sometimes fantasize about being born into a rich newspaper dynasty.

Now that that's out of the way, the article. It describes some of the worst cases where lives have literally been lost due to sheer incompetence. This is, of course, only the tip of the iceberg, the first locust of the season. The incompetence is due, in part, to the state prisons farming out the doctoring work to private firms. These private firms cut corners to such a degree as to make a chair into a beanbag. Their doctors hold the highest disqualifications to treat patients (a pathologist). Their nurses make Nurse Ratched look like Alan Alda as Pierce.

When reading the article, you may not be able to identify errors as they occur, but let me assure you, from my reading, each of these deaths could have easily been prevented. None have the slightest excuse.

Now I will tell you my story in the prison system. I saw a man who had gall stones while in jail. He went to the prison doctor, who took out the gall bladder - a miracle as I later found out thanks to NYT - but required a colostomy (colon exits via the abdomen instead of the rectum) as a complication of the surgery. He got out shortly thereafter with no correction to the colostomy.

And now guess what? He gets nothing. No surgeon will take his case. He has no insurance. He cannot afford to even see a surgeon. He has to wait until he can even get on state insurance.

The point? While in jail, this man got better care than he got on the outside. After reading the article, that's the scariest thing.


Blogger marybishop said...

Sounds like the prison wrecked him.

Seriously, I read the article -- scary indeed.

6:40 PM  
Blogger laurenbove said...

So the guy is walking around with a colostomy bag waiting for state ins. to kick in? Isn't that just an infection (not to mention personal humiliation) just waiting to happen?

I've hear of these privatized Prison Health Care systems and the resulting abuse to patients in the name of keeping costs down and profits high. It's a terrible and frightening story indeed. The NYT article was excellent .

Question: What makes the profit driven insurance companies that the rest of us rely upon better than the privatized prison health care companies?

8:36 AM  
Blogger Doc NOS said...

Yeah, that guy is now out of luck, but hopefully he got some insurance and then got fixed up.

The profit driven insurance companies operate in a different world. More money, more demands, more quality.

12:44 PM  
Blogger laurenbove said...

aha, point taken.

3:53 PM  
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