Monday, March 29, 2010

I attended a medical meeting last week and came away with my head swimming over the rapid advances in medicine. It’s good to be retired because it’s almost impossible to keep up with the rapidly changing science of medicine. Healthcare reform may slow this down because reduction in funding for research may have a significant impact on medical progress.

In my specialty of Radiology the practice has completely changed since I started. The plain film is now almost nonexistent and has been replaced by CT and MRI. Interventional procedures now provide more precise and rapid diagnosis and have replaced many surgical procedures. We can now offer much more to the patient with better results than in years past. Unfortunately, science seems to have separated the physician more from the patient.

At the meeting there was also much discussion about healthcare reform. Some of the things that I have mentioned in previous blogs were addressed such as self-referral, fraud and defensive medicine. Nothing has been done to contain these monsters that are a big part of the cost of healthcare. There was an interesting look at some of the statistics that have been used to support healthcare reform such as life expectancy, infant mortality and cost in the US compared to other countries. The life expectancy is 78 years in the US and is lower than many other countries. The US counts accidental deaths, homicides and suicides while these are not counted in other countries. If you took those numbers out then we would be the highest. Cuba has one of the best or lowest infant mortalities because their abortion rate is so incredibly high. If we could abort all the teen and high-risk pregnancies then we would have the best figures. Our cost in the US is high and accounts for 17% of the GDP. Americans pay more for everything including jogging shoes. We have the best healthcare in the world and people are willing to pay for it. Most of the development of new drugs and procedures come from the US. So, things are not so bad. We do need to expand the availability of care so that we can take care of all the illegal aliens and others who are unemployed and cannot afford insurance.

Anyway, things are changing so fast in medicine, I’m just thankful to be on the porch. It’s just too hard to keep up. I can’t even handle my current jobs of taking out the garbage and emptying the dishwasher.


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