…HA could barely drag herself jadedly to the computer to mock the latest news: All Americans are getting mediocre health care.
…This is supposed to be encouraging for African-Americans and women, who thought they were the only ones getting so-so attention. No! Good news! Everyone is!
…“Equal opportunity defects” was a term used to describe the findings of this study, reported in the New England Journal of Med on March 16. “Woefully mediocre…”
…Apparently some people somewhere have figured out the best recipes for care and treatment of most major problems, but the docs wing it on their own and don’t follow the program. Overall, patients got a little over half of the recommended tests, drugs, and treatments.
…(Sometimes, too, HA assumes patients research these approaches and don’t comply.)
…Blacks and Hispanics actually did better in getting evidence-based care than whites by a thin margin.
…It didn’t seem to matter if a person was rich or poor—the care was about the same.
…There’s a book out by John Lantos, MD, a pediatrics prof at the University of Chicago, called—provocatively—“Do We Still Need Doctors?”
…He says doctors could to a large degree be replaced by computers. “People who follow set rules do better than people who make case-by-case judgments,” he asserts.
…Where you need doctors, Lantos says, is where the cases are complicated and the medicines work the least well. This is where the “art” in the “art of medicine” comes in.
…So first let us fire all the doctors? Never happen, Lantos says. Computers can land planes, but we still have pilots.
..And seriously, be honest, wouldn’t you miss the tug of war in trying to keep a doctor in the room to talk to you when he or she is on to the next patient?
…And the waiting—hasn’t that taught you the serene patience of a Buddha and made you a better person?
…And how about the woman, inevitably named Debbie, who screws up your paperwork? She’s still entertaining, right? Would you have the heart to replace her with a computer?