American Elephants


Elderly People Are Too Expensive? Try the “Care Pathway.” by The Elephant's Child

Do you remember when Sarah Palin was  thought to be an idiot for claiming that Obama Care was considering ” Death Panels?”

Obama’s advisors on health care, Peter Orzag, Ezekiel Emmanuel, Donald Berwick and Tom Daschle were outspoken admirers of the British National Health Service. The chief concern of Obama’s advisors was the huge expense run up by the elderly in their final years.They talked about denying expensive operations or treatments when the patients had little ‘worthwhile’ time left. Something to be determined by the bureaucracy.

In Britain, the Liverpool Care Pathway, developed at the Royal Liverpool Hospital in the 1990s, withholds fluids and drugs in a patient’s final days— a treatment that is used with 29 percent of hospital patients at the end of their lives. The practice is backed by the Department of Health.

Doctors warned that not all doctors are acquiring the correct consent from patients and are failing to ask about what they wanted while they were still able to decide. Doctors here are now required to ask if you have signed a Living Will or Advanced Care Directive. Doctors also say there has been an increase in patients carrying a card stating that they do not want this “pathway” treatment in the last years of their lives.

A retired geriatrician and former vice-chairman of the Medical Ethics Alliance, told the Daily Mail that “If you are cynical about it, as I am, you can see it as a cost-cutting measure, if you don’t want your beds filled with old people.”

There have been frequent articles in the British papers about NHS care of the elderly, with beds unchanged, drinking water not available, and of relatives having to ring in clean sheets from home.

In the free market, doctors and hospitals are focused on patient care, and on improving their skills and treatments. In a socialized system, where the system must support not only the doctors and clinics, but a vast bureaucracy to administer and control everything, the focus becomes getting paid and reducing costs.

For a certified idiot, Sarah Palin has an uncanny ability to be correct.

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