How the ‘For Profit’ Health Care System Ignores the Hippocratic Oath.
[I'm leaving this sticky because I wish more people would write up their experiences like this! --lambert]
A majority of medical schools recite the Modern Hippocratic Oath either at entrance to, or graduation from medical school. Although this oath is in no way binding, those of us who use physician’s services trust them to adhere to the principals that they once professed to embrace.
I could analyze each part of the Oath, but I would like to focus on this paragraph:
“I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.”
This paragraph has no basis in the real world of the “For Profit” medical system in the U.S. Here is a quick story to illustrate.
My diabetic older brother died in 2009 at the age of 47, due to his having no medical insurance. Somehow he got a bacterial infection in his foot that had it been left untreated would have rapidly spread through his body and killed him. Doctors said, had he waited another hour, he most likely would have lost his leg. As it was, he had 1/3 of his right foot amputated.
Four operations, seven days in the hospital and numerous follow-up visits later, you can imagine the hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills that accrued. While the hospital used money set aside in an endowment to cover the hospital costs, the doctors were another story. Their bills were nearly $200,000.
With no medical insurance, although both he and his wife worked, there was no way for them to pay these bills. Now insulin dependent and unable to work, he had to file for bankruptcy. It’s the same story for thousands of Americans every week. Unable to get the physical, emotional and occupational therapy he needed to adjust to the new limitations, I believe he simply gave up. He died in his sleep one week after the bankruptcy was finalized. My Sister-in-law is still struggling to recover from having her life decimated.
I have to be honest. I have a massive amount of disdain for the medical profession. I know many doctors and not one of them is more concerned with the welfare of their patients than they are about making money. It is rare that I have a conversation with any of them that the discussion doesn’t inevitably turn to the money they make or how something affects the money they make.
What kind of a society creates doctors that save a life and then are willing to allow that life to be financially and psychologically ruined due to the inability to pay. It’s like taking out a prisoner’s appendix so you can execute him later. Then there’s the irony that those doctors never did get any of that money. Universal health care for all could have eliminated the suffering my brother’s, and so many other’s, suffering.
Doctor’s are the ones who should be out front demanding that money not be the determining factor for access to the medical system. Not in America.