In a previous post, I’ve discussed the horrifying effects on patients in Great Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) when government bureaucrats make medical decisions based on a formula that measures the expected quality of life if a patient is allowed to survive. Despite the full-court press being run on reporters to influence them to positively report on Obamacare, the real, tangible results of bureaucratic medicine are plain for the world to see.
Several more recent reports have detailed mistreatment of patients in the NHS due more to bureaucratic than medical decisions. The most shocking of which was an audit of the Liverpool Care Pathway, which revealed that almost half of all dying patients were never told that life-saving treatment had been withdrawn. According to the London Telegraph,
The study suggests that in total, around 57,000 patients a year are dying in NHS hospitals without being told that efforts to keep them alive have been stopped.
It also reveals that thousands of dying patients have been left to suffer in pain, with no attempt to keep them comfortable while drugs were administered.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is the epitome of a death panel. Bureaucrats making life or death decisions, solely for budgetary concerns. These revelations have led public officials to begin a formal inquest: “the failure to consult patients would now be examined by an independent inquiry, which will also look at payments made to hospitals for meeting targets to place people on the pathway.” [emphasis added]
SR Larson provides a succinct analysis:
The government-run, tax-funded NHS has payment standards that do three things:
1. Discourage physicians from sending patients to specialists, as specialists cost more money than General Practitioners (a.k.a., Gatekeeper Practitioners);
2. Demand the use of QALY, an instrument for evaluating the economic worthiness of a person’s life; and
3. Encourage hospitals to put patients on medical death row when treatment is considered fiscally futile.
All these payment instruments are put in place by the British government to cap the costs of operating the National Health Service. Cost containment has infiltrated the practice of medicine to such a degree where the final word on a person’s health, even life, is fiscal, not medical.
The practitioners of eugenics are nothing short of statist ghouls. The very idea that an individual is completely removed from making his or her own decision on how to survive is macabre and barbaric. Creating sophisticated mathematical formulas like QALY to back up a public policy doesn’t make the policy smarter, if that policy removes the fundamental, innate right to live one’s own life in favor of “the greater good”. It seem obvious that it is impossible to serve the greater good if the rights of the individual are involuntarily sacrificed.
But that’s just what Obamacare promises to do. As Wesley Smith noted at National Review,
Doctors Lose Humanity Serving Govt. Masters
The implosion of UK healthcare quality is a warning for the U.S.
… Loss of humanity is a predictable consequence of centralized control. As the quality of healthcare worsens, the technocracy kicks into high gear, issuing more regulations, guidelines, and treatment (or rationing) checklists–further devolving medicine into a deprofessionalized, connect-the-dots craft. And that can be deadly.
The same thing will happen in the U.S. once Obamacare’s cost/benefit and best care standards bureaucracies are up and running.
Many on the Left will argue that while rare examples may be found where the bureaucracy left one or two patients out in the cold, overall the system’s benefits outweigh these occasional tragedies. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that the bureaucracy is the sole cause in many cases of suffering and death. The cure is clearly worse than the disease.