Joan Rivers and Health Care In America

By Lin Brennan:

Joan Rivers recent death has ignited for many Americans more questions than answers.

I was not as much a fan of her brand of irreverent comedy, but I did see years ago in Las Vegas her stand up routine during her Cher era (having seen more overhead mirrors than any celebrity of the current era). I did leave laughing, although a little uncomfortable with some of the material. She seemed to get more and more acidic as the years went by in this writers humble opinion. But most of her routines were just so on target at how superficial and ridiculous celebrity and Hollywood life styles had become. She was a New Yorker really, after all.

I’ve been through America’s health care system with the death of a parent also within the past two years. Our for profit health care delivery is not working, and my father’s dealth just proved to me how we are moving backwards in this respect. He died of congestive heart failure after a lengthy two year period.

Ms. Rivers did not.

Most doctors and nurses know that any “procedure” requiring anesthesia is a crap shoot at best. Anesthesia, by its very nature, depresses the respiratory system. On an 81 year old woman, that would have been expected as not an abnormality. Was a Board certified anesthestisologist called upon for her “normal, everyday” procedure in this private clinic? Was she adequately advised prior to the procedure of the risks involved in doing such a procedure in a clinic rather than a hospital?

Unfortunately, the patient would be the only person to answer that question adequately.

And she is gone.

I am not familiar with New York law in this respect, and for certain Ms. Rivers had the money to have this procedure done in a hospital if she had been adequately informed. Unlike most of Americans.

But I would guess that the fine print wasn’t really read, and that she was assured that a clinic was well equipped to handle any unforeseen emergencies. One which was 10 minutes away from the nearest hospital.

A law suit will not bring Ms. Rivers back. And I would bet if given the choice, even one more day of health and enjoing her life’s work would have been her preference and wishes.

Medicare gives bare bones care. And even someone such as Ms. Rivers with all her wealth also potentially received substandard care, or was not truly aware of just what risks were involved in putting someone of her age under a general anesthetic. Which is used and needed in order to suppress the gag reflex and make it easier for the doctors to carry out their procedure.

This was a surgery, an invasive procedure.

Just when are we going to start to value all human life and afford doctors the tools to heal and advise their patients of the best and safest procedures available, without having to be concerned with the bottom line.

I hope Ms. Rivers’ daughter doesn’t sue the clinic, but starts to advocate a return to patient oriented health care, rather than cost and profit based medicine which is obviously where both ObamaCare, and our current health care delivery system, seem to be focused.

Whether a hospital setting would have been better is debatable in my opinion. It did seem in my father’s case, most of the staff seemed to be glued to their computers at the front desk, rather than actually providing patient care.

Much work still needs to be done here.

The Ground Report


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