By Emily Geiger
We’re just now really starting to get a broader view of what the Obama presidency will mean for this country. So far, I’ve not been terribly impressed on several levels… the economy, life issues, military issues, etc.
One of the things that is still yet to be seen is what Obama will do, or attempt to do, with the healthcare system. I believe the worst thing that could happen to the American healthcare system is a single-payer system, i.e. socialized medicine.
For some strange reason, I’ve seen a lot of examples of political issues played in the celebrity world lately. The most recent example was a disturbing article I saw related to the healthcare issue and the recent death of actress Natasha Richardson.
Richardson was skiing in at a resort in Quebec, Canada. She fell during a ski lesson and hit her head. At first, she said she was fine and refused medical treatment. However, a little while later, she complained of a headache and went to the local hospital in the nearest town of about 9,000 people. She was still awake and talking when she arrived at the hospital.
I read a fascinating article recently that provided more details of these events and suggested that, had this accident happened in the United States, Ms. Richardson would likely still be with us today.
Richardson died of an epidural hematoma, which is blood collecting between the brain and the skull, which, if left untreated, can cause brain damage and death. This condition can be diagnosed with a simple CT scan. Such equipment is common in most all American hospitals. Unfortunately, this is not the case in Canada.
The first hospital Richardson went to did not have neurological specialists. Richardson had to be transported to Montreal, but there was also no air ambulance service, and she had to transported 50 miles to Quebec via land travel, causing further delay in treatment that likely contributed to her death.
One physician recently wrote regarding this situation:
[Richarson] was still conscious when seen at a hospital and her death might have been prevented if the hospital either had the resources to diagnose and institute temporizing therapy, or air transport had taken her quickly to Montreal.
What would have happened at a US ski resort? It obviously depends on the location and facts, but according to a colleague who has worked at two major Colorado ski resorts, the same distance from Denver as Mt. Tremblant is from Montreal, things would likely have proceeded differently.
Assuming Richardson initially declined medical care here as well, once she did present to caregivers that she was suffering from a possible head trauma, she would’ve been immediately transported by air, weather permitting, and arrived in Denver in less than an hour.
If this weren’t possible, in both resorts she would’ve been seen within 15 minutes at a local facility with CT scanning and someone who could perform temporary drainage until transfer to a neurosurgeon was possible.
If she were conscious at 4 p.m., she’d most likely have been diagnosed and treated about that time, receiving care unavailable in the local Canadian hospital. She might’ve still died or suffered brain damage but her chances of surviving would have been much greater in the United States.
Our U.S. healthcare system may not be perfect, but at least people have access to critical care when they need it. We don’t put people on waiting lists to get treatment for cancer. We don’t say to old people, “Sorry, to give you treatment would be a waste of government money, so even though you want treatment, you can’t have it.”
I hope those making decisions about the future of American healthcare keep this in mind before they make changes we won’t be able to live to regret.
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