I want to preface this by saying that I am not knocking the skills of the medical professionals of other countries. My life was saved by an Indian Doctor who spotted a problem that dozens of other Doctors never saw. Indian healthcare professionals that I have encountered are knowledgable, dedicated, and put the well-being of the patient first and foremost. And the same goes for healthcare professionals from all other places that I have personally interacted with. The medical professionals I’ve had cause to be pissed off at have inevitably been the native variety, and there have been few of THEM.
Acknowledging the professionalism, skill, and compassion of Indian medical professionals doesn’t mean that we also have to overlook conditio0ns in India itself, however. India, in many ways, should be the right-winger’s dream place: few environmental regulations, almost non-existent quality control in the manufacture of a lot of medicines, and a for-profit system of medicine that tries to achieve results as quickly as it can with as few costs as it can. The low cost of Indian medical services relative to those in the US has led health insurers to either incentivize, or outright force, thousands of patients to India for “routine” procedures.
Well, you know, forcing people into places without environmental regulations who are already sick… there were bound to be consequences. Consequences that we in the US wouldn’t face at all, except for the fact that our healthcare system is still being strangled by private insurers, who do whatever they have to do to keep that profit high. If that means shipping you off to a place to bring back something that’ll kill off Americans by the hundreds of thousands (or more,) so be it.
The profit motive is absolute insanity when it comes to healthcare delivery, and ultimately unworkable to boot. Let someone go grab a superbug that sickens a city or two, and health insurers will got from worrying about profits to worrying about survival.
Unless the Rushpubliscums get their way, and rescission is made legal again. In that case, do like Grayson says, and die quickly.
Lill-Karin Skaret, a 67-year-old grandmother from Namsos, Norway, was traveling to a lakeside vacation villa near India’s port city of Kochi in March 2010 when her car collided with a truck. She was rushed to the Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, her right leg broken and her artificial hip so damaged that replacing it required 12 hours of surgery.
Three weeks later and walking with the aid of crutches, Skaret was relieved to be home. Then her doctor gave her upsetting news. Mutant germs that most antibiotics can’t kill had entered her bladder, probably from a contaminated hospital catheter in India. She risked a life-threatening infection if the bacteria invaded her bloodstream — a waiting game over which she had limited control, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its June issue.
“I got a call from my doctor who told me they found this bug in me and I had to take precautions,” Skaret remembers. “I was very afraid.”
Skaret was lucky. Eventually, her body rid itself of the bacteria, and she escaped harm from a new type of superbug that scientists warn is spreading faster, further and in more alarming ways than any they’ve encountered. Researchers say the epicenter is India, where drugs created to fight disease have taken a perverse turn by making many ailments harder to treat.
India’s $12.4 billion pharmaceutical industry manufactures almost a third of the world’s antibiotics, and people use them so liberally that relatively benign and beneficial bacteria are becoming drug immune in a pool of resistance that thwarts even high-powered antibiotics, the so-called remedies of last resort.
Poor hygiene has spread resistant germs into India’s drains, sewers and drinking water, putting millions at risk of drug-defying infections. Antibiotic residues from drug manufacturing, livestock treatment and medical waste have entered water and sanitation systems, exacerbating the problem.
As the superbacteria take up residence in hospitals, they’re compromising patient care and tarnishing India’s image as a medical tourism destination.
“There isn’t anything you could take with you traveling that would be useful against these superbugs,” says Robert Moellering Jr., a professor of medical research at Harvard Medical School in Boston.
The germs — and the gene that confers their heightened powers — are jumping beyond India. More than 40 countries have discovered the genetically altered superbugs in blood, urine and other patient specimens. Canada, France, Italy, Kosovo and South Africa have found them in people with no travel links, suggesting the bugs have taken hold there.
Drug resistance of all sorts is bringing the planet closer to what the World Health Organization calls a post-antibiotic era.
“Things as common as strep throat or a child’s scratched knee could once again kill,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said at a March medical meeting in Copenhagen. “Hip replacements, organ transplants, cancer chemotherapy and care of preterm infants would become far more difficult or even too dangerous to undertake.”
Already, current varieties of resistant bacteria kill more than 25,000 people in Europe annually, the WHO said in March. The toll means at least 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion) in extra medical costs and productivity losses each year.
“If this latest bug becomes entrenched in our hospitals, there is really nothing we can turn to,” says Donald E. Low, head of Ontario’s public health lab in Toronto. “Its potential is to be probably greater than any other organism.”
I wish that there was a way to send every cretin who screams about SOSHEELESM whenever we talk about the need for getting private insurance out of healthcare to India for treatment of any and all ailments they might get. We couldn’t of course, because they would inevitably come back with the superbugs and kill a bunch of us who aren’t idiots, but it sure would be nice if there was a way to do it.
Medical care should be, MUST be, as localized as possible, PRECISELY because of the potential for things like these. Until the health insurers turned into greedy vultures, the wisdom of this was unquestioned.
Greed, as always, led straight to stupid. Lethally stupid.