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Opinion Blogs
One Man's Opinion: How Did We Let Medicine Get So Sick?
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One Man's Opinion: How Did We Let Medicine Get So Sick?

One Man's Opinion: How Did We Let Medicine Get So Sick?
Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

One Man's Opinion: How Did We Let Medicine Get So Sick?

"By now, corporate medicine has milked about all the 'efficiency' it can out of the system. With mergers and streamlining, it has pushed the productivity numbers about as far as they can go. But one resource that seems endless-and free-is the professional ethic of medical staff members," said Dr. Danielle Ofri, an author and physician at Bellevue Hospital and New York University, from a New York Times guest editorial on June 9, 2019, "Is Exploiting Doctors the Business Plan?"

We are fortunate, within my immediate and extended family, to have the benefit of several medical professionals. My sister, Tanya, is a Nurse Practitioner, my god-daughter, Dr. Martha Cohen-Slade is an ObGyn and a close family cousin has not only been a career long operating room nurse, but also served as Chair of its global professional association, the Association of peri-Operative Registered Nurses, AORN. Their career experience and insights have helped form my opinions on the status of the industry. 

My god-daughter, herself also recently a new mother, delivered five babies the same day her own labor was later induced before giving birth to her first son. My sister, who has worked all over the country, while continuing her own medical studies as well as serving as an educator and nursing faculty member, routinely works through holiday weekends, continuous 30-hour shifts and in both private and hospital based practices, always delivering beyond the call and assigned 'hours' of her paycheck. 

As I have also often seen these behaviors in many of my own medical advisers and professionals, I can only assume it to be part of the work ethic and 'patient needs first' ingrained during years of study and preparation for a career in health care. Hopefully, this aspect of the profession will continue forward, but not to the long term detriment of the practitioners. 

Patients, particularly in an in-patient setting, are generally sicker these days. Greater severity and complexity of chronic conditions, more over-lapping illnesses or infections to treat, as well as more medications to handle, manage and assess for side-effects or treating at cross-purposes. And yet the average length of time treatment spent with each patient is expected to be shrinking, or remain the same, aided by technology and that particularly vexing plus/minus of the Electronic Medical Record (EMR). The EMR is now omni-present and 'tunneled-in' to nearly every aspect of the medical system, and though few would wish a return to the pounds-heavy paper charts and copies, the EMR is now remotely accessible 24/7, awaiting updates, notes and provider input, and many providers are now doing just that, using evening, weekend and sleep-hours, off the clock, to update and re-check EMR charts. The average provider/physician spends roughly two-hours of EMR maintenance/updates time per each hour of actual face to face patient care. 

Hospitals and provider employers also know this, and in effect consider this a benefit of employing well-paid and ethically driven professionals. But all of this 'no-down time' doesn't add up to everything remaining just fine. Health care professional burn-out is an increasingly real threat to their own health as well as ongoing performance. And despite doctor and nursing shortages nationwide, which increasingly require HB1 Visas and U.S. health care employers to recruit and import medical professionals from other nations, domestic medical and nursing school slots remain in tight supply, while a significant number of Baby Boomer era providers are fast approaching retirement. In addition to the higher error levels one might associate with long-term fatigue, clinical depression and suicide rates among physicians and nurses are now also significantly surpassing those of the general population they care for. 

I am no fan of a single payer, government-based health care system. I don't have to look any further than our troubled Veteran's Administration system to see what happens when a bureaucracy manages all the keys to the kingdom, but with all the great minds and innovation present in American health care, still considered the world leader in numerous arenas, there simply has to be a better way. 

From 1975 to 2010, the number of health care 'administrators' within both the for profit and non-profit medical sectors, has increased by 3200 percent. If we considered converting back less than half that personnel hike towards clinical care and more direct patient support, we might be well on our way to closing the provider service gap, as well as better recognizing that the priority should remain getting and keeping patients well, versus processing piles and piles of electronic records and yes, still more paperwork. Hospitals...heal thyself.

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News

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  • What was an exciting celebration for one Texas couple became the subject of criticism on Twitter. The New York Post reported Jonathan Joseph and Bridgette Joseph were at Capital of Texas Zoo in Cedar Creek, Texas, where they enlisted the help of Tank the hippo for their gender reveal. >> Read more trending news  Video was posted to the zoo's Facebook page, but not before going viral on Twitter, where Ana Breton, a filmmaker, posted a screen recording of a TikTok post of the gender reveal. 'I did it. I found the worst gender reveal,' she tweeted Saturday. Time reported that the video showed Tank chomping on a watermelon, which revealed a blue color, meaning the couple is expecting a boy. Criticisms soon followed. 'The whole reveal concept is just completely stupid to begin with, but I guess you can make it even dumber,' one person tweeted. 'That person's baby is not remotely important enough to feed a hippo 10 pounds of food coloring,' another person replied. On Sunday, Breton said she got in contact with Bridgette Joseph, although it's not clear if Bridgette Joseph reached out to Breton to respond or not. 'While I’m not a fan of gender reveals, it was not my intention to bring darkness to their special day,' Breton tweeted, which included a response from Bridgette Joseph. 'This was one of the happiest days of our lives,' Bridgette Joseph said, according to Breton's tweet. 'With the help of the zoo and the amazing Tank the hippo, we learned that we are having a baby boy. After many years of raising our beautiful young lady, we decided to try for another baby. It took some time and some extra money in fertility treatments, but we finally got pregnant!' Bridgette Joseph said she and her husband would have been happy to have another girl, but for them, it would have meant they 'would have had to keep tying for a boy.' Michael Hicks, the director of the zoo, told The Post the Jello-O was not harmful to Tank, despite what some said on social media. 'This is the same Jell-O people feed their kids. It's totally harmless,' zoo director Michael Hicks told the tabloid. Hicks said the hippo wasn't forced into the gender reveal. 'You can't make a hippo do anything. He weighs 4,000 pounds,' Hicks said. 'He enjoyed it as much as anybody else did.
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A news conference was slated for later Monday to provide more details, but a time had not been set.  Blackman was captured Saturday afternoon, several hours after he allegedly shot a 40-year-old police officer on Chicago’s South Side. Chicago Deputy Police Chief Brendan Deenihan said Blackman was caught after investigators who were canvassing the Englewood community, where the officer’s shooting took place, obtained surveillance footage that showed Blackman fleeing through a vacant lot several blocks away. The footage did not show him leave the lot. Detectives and patrol officers descended upon the area, Deenihan said. “When they went to go search that lot, this defendant popped up,” Deenihan said. “This is when the gun battle ensued between the defendant and the officers.” Blackman ran over some railroad tracks, where he encountered more officers. Additional shots were fired, and Blackman was struck multiple times. “He has eight holes in him at this time and a broken femur,” Deenihan said. Watch Deputy Police Chief Brendan Deenihan talk about the shooting and capture of Michael Blackman below.  Blackman was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, the same hospital where the officer he is accused of shooting was rushed earlier that morning. No officers were injured in the second encounter with Blackman, Deenihan said. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said during a news conference Saturday that the 16-year veteran officer who was shot serves on the department’s fugitive apprehension team. The team, which was looking for Blackman in connection with Wednesday’s bicycle shooting, went shortly after 8:30 a.m. that morning to a home in the 1900 block of West 65th Street, where Blackman was believed to be hiding, Johnson said. >> Read more trending news  When members of the team knocked on the door, Blackman ran out the back of the house, where the injured officer and his partner were stationed, Johnson said. “At that time, a physical struggle ensued, followed by an armed confrontation,” Johnson said. The unnamed officer was shot in the groin and in the lower leg, doctors said. Fellow officers loaded him into a patrol car and rushed him to the hospital, where he underwent surgery. He was in stable condition Saturday afternoon. “It is reported that the injured officer had the self-awareness to apply his own tourniquet, as his partner maintained pressure on the gunshot wound on the way to the hospital,” the superintendent said. Guglielmi tweeted that the officer lost nearly a third of his blood volume. “He came basically bleeding to death,” trauma surgeon Dr. Jane Kayle Lee said during Saturday’s news conference. “He had already lost a significant amount of blood and was taken emergently to the operating room for surgery.” Lee said the officer had a hole in one of the largest veins in his leg. She was able to repair the injury. The surgeon said the bullet to the officer’s groin remains in his body. The gunshot to his leg was a “through-and-through” wound, with both an entrance and exit wound. The officer suffered significant fractures to his leg when that bullet tore through his body, Lee said. His leg was splinted for the time being, but he will need additional surgery. “I do expect that he will have a good recovery,” Lee said. Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who met with the man’s family at the hospital, said the shooting is a reminder of the sacrifice police officers make every day to protect the city’s residents. She also praised the work of the officer’s colleagues in the fugitive apprehension unit. “Their quick work saved this officer’s life,” Lightfoot said. She asked the public to pray for the officer’s full recovery. “I ask that all Chicagoans continue praying for the officer and his family throughout his recovery,” Lightfoot said at the news conference. “Also, keep all of our first responders in our thoughts and prayers because, as the superintendent said, and we see on a daily basis, they run to danger to protect us.” Like the officer, the woman Blackman is accused of shooting on Wednesday is expected to survive. According to The Chicago Tribune, the woman was headed to lunch with co-workers around noon in the city’s Fulton Market District when she was shot by a man on a bicycle. Watch police and city officials, along with medical personnel, speak below about the Saturday shooting of a Chicago police officer.  “Based on the information we have right now, the shooter passed by a group of individuals and went directly to her to extend his arm and fire one single gunshot,” Johnson said at the time, according to the Tribune. “Appears right now the victim may have been targeted by the offender.” As the gunman fled the scene, the woman was rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in serious to critical condition, the newspaper said. Her condition was unknown Monday. Police officials released still images and video the day of the shooting that showed the alleged gunman riding his bicycle near the scene of the shooting. Guglielmi tweeted Friday that detectives had been given a tip to go to a bicycle shop, where they discovered security footage that showed a man fitting the description of the shooter getting his bike fixed about an hour before the woman was shot. The clearer images, which show a man later identified by police as Blackman, offer a full view of the man’s face as he stands at the counter. At one point, he takes off his black Nike baseball cap and wipes his head with paper towels. He is seen standing and chatting with the employee working on his bike and leaning on the counter, his wallet out, as he pays his bill. The man smiles several times as he talks to the worker. Blackman was identified as a suspect in Wednesday’s shooting based in part on the images from the bike shop, Johnson said. His motive in the woman's shooting was unknown as of Saturday. The superintendent declined to speculate on Blackman’s state of mind but pointed out that he was accused of shooting two people, including a police officer. “Obviously, this is not a person that should be walking the streets of Chicago,” Johnson said Saturday while Blackman was still at large. “He’s a dangerous individual. There’s no hiding that.” Blackman has an extensive criminal history dating back to 1991, Johnson said Saturday. His previous charges range from burglary and domestic battery to drug charges. He remained hospitalized in police custody Monday morning.
  • Some Michigan students were startled last week to see what looked like an alligator living in a pond behind the school. It took a day to catch the reptile after the pond was drained, school officials said. >> Read more trending news  The reptile was identified by animal experts as a 3-foot-long caiman, according to WDIV. Caimans are not native to Michigan, but they're often kept as pets, wildlife experts told the television station. They share many characteristics with alligators and crocodiles but are often smaller, officials said. That did not matter to students at Bedford Junior and Senior High School in Temperance, who believed a gator by any other name was just as scary. The body of water at Bedford Junior and Senior High School is called the Biology Pond and is used by both junior and senior high school classes for academic study, WXMI reported. A teacher spotted the reptile Thursday and reported it, the television station reported. Joe Garverick, the owner of the Indian Creek Zoo in nearby Lambertville, attempted to catch the alligator with his bare hands Thursday, but the reptile proved to be elusive, WTVG reported. “It got loose or somebody let it loose — one or the other,” Garverick told the television station. The reptile was finally caught and will join three alligators at Indian Creek Zoo, Garverick told WXMI.