Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News

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Thursday, May 05, 2016

There are few areas where there is more bipartisan support than the need to provide adequate health care for the country's veterans. While many of us opposed the war in Iraq and other recent military adventures, we still recognize the need to provide medical services for the people who put their lives at risk.

This is why it is especially annoying to see right-wing groups invent scandals around the Veteran Administration's (VA) hospitals in order to advance an agenda of privatizing the system. If there was a real reason to believe that our veterans would be better cared for under a privatized system, then it would be reasonable to support the transition.

But this is the opposite of the reality. All the evidence suggests that a privatized system would make worse any problems veterans now face in getting care -- and it is likely to cost more money.

Doctors' mistakes kill some 250,000 Americans a year, a public health menace that flies under the radar because federal officials don't list "medical error" as a cause of death, a new study says.

Only cancer and heart disease cause more U.S. deaths annually according to the study, by researchers at John Hopkins University, which was published Tuesday in the British Medical Journal.

"This is a public health issue," admitted Bob Anderson, the chief of mortality statistics at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in reaction to the shocking report.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Why is a commission charged with fixing the problems hoping to close down its hospitals?

Some members of the commission established by Congress to evaluate the Department of Veterans Health Administration have proposed drastically reducing the size of the VHA by closing its health facilities and transferring the care of the nation's millions of military veterans to the private sector.

But in a letter sent to the chair of the Commission on Care, leaders of eight of the country's most prominent veterans' advocacy organizations blasted the proposal. read more


Per the article...

Himmelstein, one of the authors of the plan, said the proposal is meant as a rallying cry for physicians and other healthcare professionals around the cause of a single-payer model. According to the paper, even with the passage of the Affordable Care Act many patients "face rising co-payments and deductibles that compromise access to care and leave them vulnerable to ruinous medical bills." Despite the current high healthcare spending levels in the US, healthcare outcomes are worse than in comparable well-funded countries.

Nice to see doctors showing some leadership.

The American Medical Association (AMA), which is the largest organization of physicians in the US, has opposed the idea of a single-payer model. When contacted, the AMA pointed to its policy regarding evaluating health reform proposals, which states in part that:

"Unfair concentration of market power of payers is detrimental to patients and physicians, if patient freedom of choice or physician ability to select mode of practice is limited or denied. Single-payer systems clearly fall within such a definition and, consequently, should continue to be opposed by the AMA."

The AMA mentioning patients in laughable. Healthcare experts point out that managed care practices in the early and mid 1990s actually saved money overall, with no harm to patients. But Americans, being who we are, rebelled against the managed care model because in our American psyche, we don't like hearing that they can't have the MRI for their lumbar spine, etc... so Americans continually turn to another doctor who will give them that test, treatment, or prescription drug, regardless if it's needed or clinically indicated. And in a perverse way, that's how crappy doctors profit, by taking advantage of other doctors who try and do the right thing by not overtreating patients.

The AMA needs to decide if they're in this thing to enable doctors to better practice medicine, or to ensure physician incomes are maintained and expanded.

Spare me the personal attacks, chucklehead.

WhiteDevil = impervious to facts, science, knowledge, and high quality healthcare.

You know who else agrees with me?
All the major veterans organizations...


Should the Veterans Health Administration privatize its hospitals and outpatient centers over the next 20 years?

At least eight veterans' service organizations, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars and The American Legion, say no. Well, they say it stronger than that. Ask a vet and you will get a much more colorful answer.

The VA seems fine for normal care, and even better for blood pressure and diabetes. But they should send the patients elsewhere for major problems such as cancer, transplants, and heart surgery.

#4 | POSTED BY PATRON AT 2016-05-05 02:48 PM | REPLY | FLAG


The studies conclude that there is "no significant difference" between VA and Non-VA care.

The one supposed "ding" saying Non-VA is better than the VA is in cardiology, but the report also concludes...

... VA patients were more likely than non-VA patients to report a problem with patient care. This was based on self-reported data about many aspects of patient care. The second study focused on mortality and found that the odds of death was higher in VA patients relative to private sector patients after accounting for patient level predictors and hospital volume.

Self reporting = VA full disclosure; Non-VA not full disclosure.

Volume = cardiology procedures are many times unnecessary [see below]

Doctors Perform Thousands of Unnecessary Surgeries

In fact, unnecessary surgeries might account for 10% to 20% of all operations in some specialties, including a wide range of cardiac procedures -- not only stents, but also angioplasty and pacemaker implants -- as well as many spinal surgeries. Knee replacements, hysterectomies, and cesarean sections are among the other surgical procedures performed more often than needed, according to a review of in-depth studies and data generated by both government and academic sources.

Half of Cardiac Stent Procedures Overused, Unnecessary

Seven million Americans have undergone the popular practice--implanting stents to open blocked arteries--at a cost of more than $110 billion in the past decade, Bloomberg reports. When used to restore blood flow in heart attack patients, the procedure proves beneficial. These acute cases account for half of the 700,000 stent procedures in the United States each year, according to the article.

But after combing through thousands of pages of court documents and regulatory filings, reviewing more than a dozen medical studies, and conducting interviews with 37 cardiologists and 33 heart patients or their survivors, Bloomberg concludes this go-to treatment is often overused, resulting in death, injury and fraud.

The VA is far from perfect, but compared to the private sector it's the best care anywhere.

Software bug, huh?
Have they tried turning them off and then turning them on again?

#8 | POSTED BY CBOB AT 2016-04-30 09:13 AM | REPLY | FLAG

You reminded me of the following...

Patriot Missile System: Desert Storm


Failure at Dhahrahn

On February 25, 1991, an Iraqi Scud hit the barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 28 soldiers from the U.S. Army's 14th Quartermaster Detachment.

A government investigation revealed that the failed intercept at Dhahran had been caused by a software error in the system's handling of timestamps.

The Patriot missile battery at Dhahran had been in operation for 100 hours, by which time the system's internal clock had drifted by one-third of a second. Due to the missile's speed this was equivalent to a miss distance of 600 meters.

The radar system had successfully detected the Scud and predicted where to look for it next.

However, the timestamps of the two radar pulses being compared were converted to floating point differently: one correctly, the other introducing an error proportionate to the operation time so far (100 hours).

The difference between the two was consequently wrong, so the system looked in the wrong part of the sky and found no target. With no target, the initial detection was assumed to be a spurious track and the missile was removed from the system. No interception was attempted, and the Scud impacted on a makeshift barracks in an Al Khobar warehouse, killing 28 soldiers.

Two weeks earlier, on February 11, 1991, the Israelis had identified the problem and informed the U.S. Army and the PATRIOT Project Office, the software manufacturer.

As a stopgap measure, the Israelis had recommended rebooting the system's computers regularly.

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