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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Nothing is free (I)

The problem with the British National Health Service (NHS) is that it is free of charge.

If people knew how much money everything cost, maybe they wouldn't complain so much.

I just had one of my patients pull out her drip and empty the entire contents of the drip bag onto the floor. The antibiotics in that drip cost £700 per bag. So she's just poured £700 onto the floor and the cleaners are now mopping it up as I type. The cleaners are busy mopping up the equivalant of their own monthly salary. What a waste.

My patient doesn't care, because she's not paying anything for her treatment. It's a real shame.

It just makes me so angry.

Sometimes, I really want to write out an invoice, just so that people know how much their stay in hospital is actually worth. Just so they know.



Blogger Huichieh said...


Is it that it's free of charge, or that the payment is obscured from her (assuming that she does pay taxes).

Similar issues over here in Canada. Not so much the wastage of antibiotics, but the constant shortage of hospital beds and the long queues for specialist treatment, surgeries, etc.

Didn't happen to me but it did happen to a friend who has a liver condition. She had an attack recently, was admitted, but there was no bed. She was basically waiting for one at corridor, and was eventually stowed away in an uncleaned closet (!), until a doctor found out and got so angry that he threatened to call the minister of health...

4:55 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's the dilemma: a broad tax-funded health care system (and its associated inefficiencies) vs. a more individualised price- and market-led mechanism (and its associated inequities). No country seems to have gotten the optimal mix, it seems.

1:41 pm  
Blogger tscd said...

huicheh: A closet?! That must have been some large closet to fit a hospital bed in. What a dangerous place to leave a patient!

budak: Actually, I quite like the Singaporean system.

1:26 am  
Blogger Huichieh said...

It's actually a small storeroom for the cleaners to keep their work stuff, big enough for a hospital bed, but not much else. In any case, after the doctor's complaint, the staff had the place cleaned up good. They did eventually move her to a proper room. But it was still quite astounding.

From what I understand, this sort of things are not as common in Toronto, considering the concentration of good hospitals in the city. But they do happen...and it's very frustrating for the patient and family when it does.

1:49 am  
Blogger tscd said...

huichieh: I'm amazed the staff thought they could stow a patient away in a cupboard and get away with it. If she had gotten really sick, there wouldn't have been an oxygen point for her or electrical points for the appropriate equipment.

12:05 am  
Blogger Huichieh said...

I think the staff figured that this is only a temporary measure, until a proper room is freed up. And though my friend had a fever and was in some pain (they gave her some medication for that), she wasn't in immediate danger.

It is a small storeroom, not a cupboard ("closet" could mean either, at least here in N. America). In any case, the doctor's complaint was not that my friend was 'stowed' there, but that it was not cleaned!

Least anyone think that it is all bad around here, it's not. When my wife delivered, we received really excellent care from the hospital. Likewise during all the pre-natal check ups.

Sometimes, it's just bad luck, i.e., that the hospital happened to be fulled occupied when my friend checked in.

12:58 am  

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