Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gawande: Complications & Being Mortal!

In August I read Gawande when in Peggy's Cove and posted about his book Complications! Honestly, I did not know Gawande was giving the Reith Lectures. 

Latest Gawande Book:


In one of the most moving passages in the book, Gawande’s father, in hospice, rises from his wheelchair to hear his son lecture at their hometown university. “I was almost overcome just witnessing it,” Gawande writes.

........Gawande offers no manifesto, no checklist, for a better end of life. Rather, he profiles professionals who have challenged the status quo, including Bill Thomas and other geriatricians, palliative-care specialists, and hospice workers. Particularly inspiring are the stories of patients who made hard decisions about balancing their desire to live longer with their desire to live better. These include Gawande’s daughter’s piano teacher, who gave lessons until the last month of her life, and Gawande’s father, also a surgeon, who continued work on a school he founded in India while dying of a spinal tumor.
He’s awed not only by his father’s strength, but by the hospice care that helped the dying man articulate what mattered most to him, and to do it. Gawande thinks, as he watches his proud father climb the bleachers, “Here is what a different kind of care — a different kind of medicine — makes possible.”

What would lawyers say about M + M:

- ‘There is one place, however, where doctors can talk candidly about their mistakes, if not with patients, then at least with one another. It is called the Morbidity and Mortality Conference – or, more simply, M+M – and it takes place, usually once a week, at nearly every academic hospital in the country. This institution survives because laws protecting its proceedings from legal discovery have stayed on the books in most states, despite frequent challenges.’ 

            >>>See also Dr No: We Have No Black Boxes
                                               Abetternhs's Blog  What are we afraid of?

August 27 2014:

What a charming place: Peggy's Cove of Halifax.

The Cockroach Catcher was finishing reading the book Complications and such charming old landscape reminds him of the old traditional medical training he received and how some doctors still do. Like the author of this book.

The book reads more like a collection of blog posts and in fact it was. Yet it was real and touching. Sometimes it was brunt and brutal. and after all doctors are as human as anyone. Complications includes those doctors themselves may suffer: mental illness and alcoholism as well as the serious cardiac condition of the author's young son.

We, doctors make mistakes and please we must be allowed to sort them out without affecting career or worst, future medical behaviour.

A great book for doctors in particular and when on holiday in a charming place.










All photos©2014 Am Ang Zhang  

 (Metropolitan Books, 288 pages, $24), a collection of 14 pieces, some of which were originally published in The New Yorker and Slate magazines, Gawande uses real-life scenarios – a burned-out doctor who refuses to quit; a terminal patient who opts for risky surgery, with fatal results – to explore the larger ethical issues that underlie medicine. He asks: How much input should a patient have? How can young doctors gain hands-on experience without endangering lives? And how responsible are these doctors for their mistakes?
While “Complications” is full of tragic errors and near misses, the book is not intended to be an expose. Rather, Gawande asserts, it is meant to deepen our understanding of the intricacies of medicine. “In most medical writing, the doctor is either a hero or a villain,” he says, with an edge in his voice. “What I am trying to do is push beyond that and show how ordinary doctors are – and at the same time show that what they can do is extraordinary.”
John Freeman, Copyright (c) 2002 The Denver Post.

Quotes

- ‘There have now been many studies of elite performers – international violinists, chess grand masters, professional ice-skaters, mathematicians, and so forth – and the biggest difference… is the cumulative amount of deliberate practice they’ve had.’

- ‘We have long faced a conflict between the imperative to give patients the best possible care and the need to provide novices with experience. Residencies attempt to mitigate potential harm through supervision and graduated responsibility. And there is reason to think patients actually benefit from teaching. Studies generally find teaching hospitals have better outcomes than non-teaching hospitals. Residents may be amateurs, but having them around checking on patients, asking questions, and keeping faculty on their toes seem to help. But there is still getting around those first few unsteady times a young physician tries to put in a central line, remove a breast cancer, or sew together two segments of a colon… the ward services and clinics where residents have the most responsibility are populated by the poor, the uninsured, the drunk, and the demented… By traditional ethics and public insistence (not to mention court rulings), a patient’s right to the best care possible must trump the objective of training novices. We want perfection without practice. Yet everyone is harmed if no one is trained for the future. So learning is hidden behind drapes and anesthesia and the elisions of language.’ 

- ‘There is one place, however, where doctors can talk candidly about their mistakes, if not with patients, then at least with one another. It is called the Morbidity and Mortality Conference – or, more simply, M+M – and it takes place, usually once a week, at nearly every academic hospital in the country. This institution survives because laws protecting its proceedings from legal discovery have stayed on the books in most states, despite frequent challenges.’ 

Monday, November 24, 2014

A&E or Toy: NHS!


The boy of this American doctor had tears in his eyes and so did I when I read the following blog.

The media must have worked so hard that even an intelligent doctor from America thought she would have to wait 18 hours at our A&E. That is not surprising given the latest pre-NHS sale pitch is that the wait is over 35 hours.

Fearing that her son was faking she offered what The Cockroach Catcher would have offered: A&E or Toy.

He chose A&E: no faking here!

Read on:
POSTED BY DR. JEN GUNTER  AUGUST 12, 2014 799 COMMENTS

You know it’s going to be one of those days when one of the first tweets on vacation inquires about the closest hospital.
Victor, one of my 11-year-olds, had something in his eye courtesy of a big gust of wind outside of Westminster Abby. He was complaining enough to let me flip his eyelid and irrigate his eye on the square in front of Big Ben. (I’m sure several people thought I was torturing him).  Despite an extensive search and rinse mission no object or relief was to be found. I fretted about going to the hospital. It wasn’t the prospect of navigating a slightly foreign ER, but simply the prospect of the wait. While I am a staunch supporter of the British NHS in the back of my mind I envisioned a paralyzingly full emergency room and an agonizing 18 hour wait only to find he had nothing in his eye (the basic antechamber of Hell scenario). To ensure we really needed to go I gave Victor a choice between the emergency room and a toy store (Gunter’s 3rd rule), but he declined the toys so off we went to St. Thomas hospital, conveniently right over the bridge.
.................................................>>>>>>

Her blog post attracted over 799 comments and is still going strong.

So we again offered world class medicine without knowing.


Just look at the faith we have in our A&E departments to the point that Roy Lilly suggested:

inner city solution; close P'care and put GPs in A&E just like Detroit


There is even argument that GPs cannot do A&E work and A&E doctors cannot do GP work. What has gone wrong with medical training?

There is a very discrete attempt to change the name of A&E to ED.

Wow! Do people never learn from history?

No!!! NHS and A&E. Original please   

So if politicians have not been so interfering and allow us doctors, nurses and patients to make things work together we may indeed have a better NHS. All the analysis on the reform is clear about one thing: someone is going to make money and that means less money for actual health care.





NHS
The PLOT to kill off the NHS Original started with Fundholding and since then every single government tried! Often in the name of improving health care.

The NHS has its faults but the fixing of it is not by bringing in privateers as they will be gaming for public money; nor would competition and choice work. We only need to look at the number of times the average household change utility providers.

But the government is pretending that Southern Cross would go away very quickly. The same with Four Seasons. We have no idea if there were any secret behind the scene deals so that the likes of Southern Cross will not hit the headlines as the HCSB tried to wriggle through parliament.
No we want the old NHS!!! NHS Classic!!! NHS Original!!! No mercury or manganese please.

Perhaps politicians can learn from this: you can say all the bad things about the NHS and you can quote how badly we are doing but we still love our NHS for all its short comings and perhaps if politicians have not been so interfering and allow us doctors, nurses and patients to make things work together we may indeed have a better NHS. All the analysis on the reform is clear about one thing: someone is going to make money and that means less money for actual health care.

Because, reading between the lines, that is what it is. If government can have its way the ordinary citizens who cannot afford health care insurance will get inferior care in a society that needs to ration its skilled medical professionals. It is no good trying to pretend it is any other way.



Our generation had the best of the NHS.  We had the best of the welfare state including free education, free health care and above all freedom from fear of health care bills.  Now it is up to your generation to fight for what we are in danger of destroying. The BMA are considering taking a legal challenge against the government, you should add your voices. Ultimately the battle for the NHS is a political battle and unless you make your voices heard then the NHS will be lost. Not one citizen in England can afford to lose their NHS; the scale of the public health casualties will be too great if the Bill is passed.  The abolition of the NHS should not be our legacy to your generation for how can you care properly in the knowledge that so many will go uncared for.  Its your NHS but only for so long as you care enough to fight for it.

NHS A&EUnpredictableUnruly & Ungainly

The book is free.
NHS: The Way We Were! Free!
FREE eBook: Just drop me a line with your email.

Email: cockroachcatcher (at) gmail (dot) com.


The Cockroach Catcher on Amazon Kindle UKAmazon Kindle US

Saturday, November 15, 2014

China: Hello Autumn!








All Photos© 2014 Am Ang Zhang


More than just spectacular scenery, Jiuzhai Valley National Park is home to nine Tibetan villages, over 220 bird species as well as a number of endangered plant and animal species, including the giant panda, Sichuan golden monkey, the Sichuan takin and numerous orchids and rhododendrons.

Jiuzhai Valley is locally known as Jiuzhaigou (Chinese for “Nine Village Valley”). It is a national park located in the Min Shan mountain range, Northern Sichuan in South Western China. It is best known for its fabled blue and green lakes, spectacular waterfalls, narrow conic karst land forms and its unique wildlife. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992; the park joined the Man and Biosphere Conservation Network in 1997 and has also received IUCN and ISO 14,001 accreditations.


It is China’s premier national park and is located at elevations ranging between 1,990m (6,529 feet) to 4,764m (15,630 feet) above sea level. Located on the edge of the Tibetan Himalayan Plateau in Northern Sichuan Province it is easily accessible by direct flights from Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Chengdu, Chongqing and Hangzhou. Jiuzhai Valley provides spectacular scenery throughout the year making it one of China’s most treasured scenic sites.


National Park & National Health: Lessons?


Thursday, October 23, 2014

NHS & Wine: Simon Stevens----Sell then Sail?


Is this the sound of music for the NHS? Steven’s plans for the NHS are a big shake up for the NHS, but this time executed at a micro rather than macro level. His clear call for real extra public funding for a national health service – efficiency savings alone will not fill the black hole - will rattle politicians’ cages, but at the same he has a history of travelling on the other bus, including time at the giant American private health firm UnitedHealth, not to mention bowling from the pavilion end when advising the then Labour government about health in the early noughties. His answers this morning on the Today programme on the question of greater private sector involvement in health service delivery made up in broadness what they lacked in depth


My Take a while back.

The Cockroach Catcher was privileged to be having dinner with his good friend.

He covered the bottle when he served his favourite red wine.

"See what you think."

"Fully of blackberry and long with good tannin that has softened."

"1996 and the tannin will keep it going for another 5 years."

"Of all the recent great wines that you have served and that included the second wines of Lafite and Margaux, this is the most impressive. Just like our NHS!"

"But now you have one of the most impressive guys running it."

"Selling it, you mean!"

"I did not want to upset you."

"So you know about Simon Stevens. Not just wines then."

"You need to know that Britain is responsible for producing all the great doctors in the old commonwealth. My cardiologist was trained there. Look at Singapore, Australia & New Zealand, generations of doctors were all trained in the UK and in turn the next generations.
Why do you think that UnitedHealth paid so much to get one of the top UK guys to add a new perspective?

UnitedHealth is based in Minnesota, home of the famous Mayo Clinic and Simon Stevens is married to an American and they have school age children. As you well know, it is not easy for Americans to adjust to British life."

"So you think he is not going to last that long?"

"He has a very natural excuse!"

"Family!"

"Lets see what Bloomberg say:"
BRITISH EXPERIENCE

UnitedHealth followed up on June 30 with another report for lawmakers pinpointing $332 billion in savings through better use of technology and administrative simplification. If enacted, those changes would potentially benefit UnitedHealth's Ingenix data-crunching unit. Ingenix, with annual revenue of $1.6 billion, is poised to establish a national digital clearinghouse to ensure the accuracy of medical payments and provide a centralized service for checking the credentials of physicians.

Stevens, an Oxford-educated executive vice-president at UnitedHealth, once served as an adviser to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In that capacity, Stevens tried to fine-tune the U.K.'s nationally run health system. Today he tells lawmakers that theU.S. need not follow Britain's example. Concessions already offered by the U.S. insurance industry—such as accepting all applicants, regardless of age or medical history—make a government-run competitor unnecessary, he argues. "We don't think reform should come crashing down because of [resistance to] a public plan," Stevens says. Many congressional Democrats have come to the same conclusion.

UnitedHealth has traveled an unlikely path to becoming a Washington powerhouse. Its last chairman and chief executive, William W. McGuire, cultivated a corporate profile as an industry insurgent little concerned with goings-on in the capital. From its Minnetonka(Minn.) headquarters, the company grew swiftly by acquisition. McGuire absorbed both rival carriers and companies that analyze data and write software. Diversification turned UnitedHealth into the largest U.S. health insurer in terms of revenue. In 2008 it reported operating profit of $5.3 billion on revenue of $81.2 billion. It employs more than 75,000 people. 


Stevens argues that while UnitedHealth will likely benefit financially from health reform, the company will also aid the cause of reducing costs. He cites what he says is its record of "bending the cost curve" for major employers. 

During a media presentation in May in Washington, Stevens said medical costs incurred by UnitedHealth's corporate clients were rising only 4% annually, less than the industry average of 6% to 8%. But that claim seemed to conflict with statements company executives made just a month earlier during a conference call with investors. On that quarterly earnings call, UnitedHealth CEO Hemsley conceded that medical costs on commercial plans would increase 8% this year. 

Asked about the discrepancy, Stevens says the lower figure he is using in Washington represents the experience of a subset of employer clients who fully deployed UnitedHealth's cost-saving techniques, including oversight of the chronically ill. "These employers stuck at it for several years," he says. "We are putting forward positive ideas based on our experience of what works."

"Wow!"

"So there is not reason for him to leave UnitedHealth! They love him. The best of British & of Oxford!"

"Perhaps he has not left UnitedHealth!"

"So perhaps a sort of UnitedNHS then!"

"Well despite what people say about Obamacare, even Stevens concede that:
.....the U.S. insurance industry—accepting all applicants, regardless of age or medical history—make a government-run competitor unnecessary, he argues.

"NHS as such was the most serious competitor to the Health Insurance Industry. It is serious because there is not even any co-pay!"

"And quality is the same as the actual specialist doctor on either side are the same."

"Only the coffee is better!"

"Whatever Stevens plan to do is not something most of us can begin to guess but my suspicion is that it would not be to anyone's liking..."

"Except the Health Insurance Industry."

"So, he will not follow the US example of insurance industry accepting all applicants, regardless of age or medical history."

"No way!"

"You see, UnitedHealth has decided to leave California because of that."

"Not profitable!"

"If Insurers need to cover everything in England, they would think twice and most likely do a California thing."

"And Stevens can go back to America then!"

"So what is the wine?"

"Big Sail Boat!"                                                              

"Big Sail Boat?"

That the logo might have helped to sell a wine is unthinkable if the wine is no good. Ch. Beychevelle was fortunate enough to have a boat on its label and the Chinese just embrace it now that Lynch Bages hit the roof and there are too many fake 1982 Lafites around.

When my friend stock up on his Beychevelle, it was he told me, just a third of the price right now.

"It will be the next Lynch Bages."

"That is why 50% has been sold to the Japanese!"


"Wow!"             


So will Simon sell or sail? Or sell then sail!



I recently learned that this month a class-action lawsuit has been filed against California United Behavioral Health (UBH), along with United Healthcare Insurance Company and US Behavioral Plan, alleging these companies improperly denied coverage for mental health care.
According to the class action lawsuit, United Behavioral Health violated California’s Mental Health Parity Act, which requires insurers to provide treatment for mental-health diagnosis according to “the same terms and conditions” applied to medical conditions. Specifically, the insurer is accused of denying and improperly limiting mental health coverage by conducting concurrent and prospective reviews of routine outpatient mental health treatments when no such reviews are conducted for routine outpatient treatments for other medical conditions. 
New York:


Pomerantz Law Firm has filed a Class Action Against UnitedHealth Group, Inc. 
for Violations of Federal and State Mental Health Parity Laws - UNH
NEW YORK, March 12, 2013 (GLOBENEWSWIRE) Pomerantz Grossman Hufford Dahlstrom & Gross LLP has filed a class action lawsuit against UnitedHealth Group Inc. (“UnitedHealth” or the “Company”)(NYSE: UNH) and various subsidiaries, including United Behavioral Health.  The class action was filed in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, and docketed under 13 CV 1599, alleging violations of federal and state mental health parity laws and other related statutes. The action has been brought on behalf of three beneficiaries who are insured by health care plans issued or administered by United and whose coverage for mental health claims has been denied or curtailed. These plaintiffs seek to represent a nationwide class of similarly situated subscribers. In addition, the action was filed on behalf of the New York State Psychiatric Association, Inc. (“NYSPA”), a division of the American Psychiatric Association, seeking injunctive relief in a representational capacity on behalf of its members and their patients.

The health insurer violated state law nearly 1 million times from 2006 to 2008 after it was bought by UnitedHealth Group, the Department of Insurance says. The fine, if there is one, is likely to be much less than the maximum allowed.'

UNITED HEALTHCARE INSURANCE AGREES TO PAY U.S.
$3.5 MILLION TO SETTLE FRAUD CHARGES

WASHINGTON, D.C. - United Healthcare Insurance Company has agreed to pay the United States $3.5 million to settle allegations that the company defrauded the Medicare program, the Justice Department announced today.
The government alleges that beginning in or about 1996 and continuing through 2000, United Healthcare's telephone response unit knowingly mishandled certain phone inquiries received from Medicare beneficiaries and providers and then falsely reported its performance information to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) concerning the company's handling of those calls. CMS is the federal agency charged with administering the Medicare program.
From October 2, 1995 to October 1, 2000, United Healthcare acted under contract with CMS as a Durable Medical Equipment Regional Carrier. Under that contract, United Healthcare processed Medicare Part B claims for durable medical equipment submitted to it by Medicare beneficiaries, physicians, and other health care providers and suppliers located in the northeastern United States.
"This settlement demonstrates our continuing commitment to pursue vigorously allegations of fraud and abuse in Medicare," said Peter Keisler, Assistant Attorney General for the Department's Civil Division. "Medicare contractors, along with other health care providers, can and will be held accountable for their billing practices. This settlement demonstrates our unwavering pursuit of fraud and abuse."
The allegations of improper conduct were brought to the attention of the government by a former United Healthcare employee, who filed suit under seal in November 2001 under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the federal False Claims Act. The United States recently intervened in the whistleblower suit.
As a result of today’s settlement, the whistleblower will receive $647,500 of the settlement amount. United Healthcare did not admit any of the allegations in the complaint in connection with the settlement. Under the False Claims Act, private citizens can bring suit on behalf of the government and share in any awards that are obtained through that legal action.
###


An Entrepreneur!         
UnitedHealth & Big Profits                                                                                                      - 

Anorexia Nervosa & Medical Ethics: Letting a patient die?


©Am Ang Zhang 2005

Can a patient be allowed to die? 
Can a seventeen year old patient be allowed to die?
Can a seventeen year old Anorexia Nervosa patient be allowed to die?

Are we not supposed to save lives?

Could doctors be held to ransom? By?

Here is a Play: Let Her Die!

The Players:

The parents:
Father used to run a business security agency specialising in industrial counter espionage. Or was it espionage? I cannot be sure.

Too often there is this bizarre desire by some parents to make sure that if they cannot do it, no one else should either. We need to recognise it early enough. We are doomed otherwise, and so is the patient.

The patient: Nicola
It was really quite painful to sit there and talk to someone who looked worse than the worst they showed from Auswitz. Why could Nicola not realise that if she wanted any man to like her she would need to look a lot better, which involved doubling her weight for starters.

The Doctors:
Dr Hillman:

This was a family given up even by Dr Hillman, my most fervent supporter of family therapy. Father used to run a business security agency specialising in industrial counter espionage. Or was it espionage? I cannot be sure.

The Consultant:
        I did not go round looking like a hippie or pretending that I liked the music the teenagers listened to. I told them to me it was trash. I did not pierce my ear or have a tattoo. I certainly did not wear trainers to work.
       
        In short, you do not have to gain respect by becoming like them or worse, by pretending that you are like them.

The Experts:
I spent one session with them and agreed with Dr Hillman. They were good. We looked like a bunch of amateurs dealing with professionals. None of the family therapy tricks work, Minuchin or Haley.
        Impenetrable!

The NHS Trust & GMC

To me, suspension on full pay is a risk every doctor takes nowadays, as the basis is no longer limited to bad practice. It is no longer a reflection on whether you are good or bad clinically. Many psychiatrists are no longer prepared to use techniques that might upset their patients or parents of their patients.

The Main Action:

A family meeting was called and it lasted only a few minutes.
          I was in top form.

          “Nicola has been eating but after two months has not put on any weight. I cannot see any reason for her to continue to stay here. She might as well do the eating at home. She can then sort out for herself why she is not gaining weight without the pressure from us.”
          I tried to put it in the calmest way possible.
          “You mean you will let her die?” Father sounded a bit annoyed.

        With that father got up and left the room without saying another word.

          “What do I do now? You have upset him!” said mother.
          Good, something got to him at last, but I did not say it.
         
Nicola gave a wry smile to me as if to say, “You found me out.”
          She turned to mum, “Let’s pack and leave this dump.”
          We all kept still.
         
Six months later, one of the nurses bumped into Nicola in a nearby town. She was kicked out by father and moved in with another ex-anorectic. She was with a boy friend. More importantly she was wearing a very sexy dress to show off her then very good figure.
          She did not die.

                                           Based on an extract from my book The Cockroach Catcher

The Cockroach Catcher on Amazon Kindle UKAmazon Kindle US

2 comments:

Dr No said...
CC - Dr No rather suspected that if you didn't turn up and comment on badmed, then you were probably doing a post of your own!

Dr No reads the moral of your post as less is more, ie the more doctors try to control patients (admission, section, forced feeding), the more the patient resists. Do the opposite (patient can go home, even die if the want to) and the patient still resists - in Nicola's case by gaining weight...even if she did do so rather rapidly...and, of course, having a spook for a dad is enough to put anyone on edge...

E's case (the one recently in the news) is very different. She was almost twice N's age, very different family by the sound of things, significant co-morbdities and a long history of failed forced feeding attempts (albeit with one early success). She was, if such a concept is meaningful, in end-stage anorexia nervosa.

Can a patient be allowed to die? Yes - we do it all the time.

Can a seventeen year old patient be allowed to die? Yes - we reluctantly and with great sadness do it from time to time.

Can a seventeen year old Anorexia Nervosa patient be allowed to die? Not if we can possibly help it. But anorexia nervosa is truly pernicious illness, and sometimes it defeats us all - although usually a bit later in the patient's life.

Would Dr No have discharged Nicola as you did? Almost certainly, and probably for the same reasons!
Cockroach Catcher said...
It is perhaps The Cockroach Catcher's own experience with young Anorexia Nervosa Patients that has coloured his views. There is in him a genuine feeling that doctors should be allowed to doctor pure and simple and in that sense he feels that psychiatrists should be doctors too, real doctors.

Remember the early days of treating phobia when bus loads of phobic patient from none other than the Maudsley were taken to Piccadilly Circus and dumped there. It was known as implosion therapy. then later suicidal patients were given the sharpest razor blades so that they can get on with it.

In Psychiatry, the best treatment is without doubt Placebos. But placebos only works if neither the patient nor the parents knew.

In reading DN's blog I reposted my patient where I let her die.

Well, did I or was that part of Haley/Minuchin treatment? You can decide.

No the early day psychiatrists did not mean harm to come to the Picadilly or Razor patients, but when non-doctors are involved, good luck to the said patients.

Perhaps DN;s patients was of Millennium Trilogy quality and ooops, what was the state doing?

Please let the real doctors or better still the real psychiatrist get on with their real work, if only they are allowed to remember how to give all the guidelines floating around.

The Cockroach Catcher retired partly because he sensed he would not be allowed to carry on his own doctoring ways.