What's Wrong with Healthcare?

Thinking inside and outside of the healthcare box. After 41 years of family practice, what's happened to Canada's healthcare system?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Observations as a Physician Patient

It is interesting what goes on in out healthcare system. My wife, presently undergoing chemotherapy, was the 17th in the lab waiting room this morning for her blood test. Before her turn came to have the blood test, approximately fourteen more patients arrived in the room that was about 12 feet by 18 feet in size. This, I know, is a common scenario in our laboratories in Calgary today.
Of interest from a medical perspective is the fact that many of these people waiting for blood tests are doing so because they are ill, many of them with infectious diseases. Of concern to me, as a medical practitioner, is that people on chemotherapy, and people with malignant disease have impaired immune systems, and are at risk for infections. Of particular concern to me this morning was the fact that my wife required her blood work because one week ago her total white blood count was 1.3 and her neutrafil count was 0.4, thus putting her in a particular high risk category.
When I was practicing family medicine I would do my general check-ups and generally see my non-infectious people in the morning, and left openings in the afternoon for the morning phone in fevers, coughs, etc. They would be shown directly into the examining room and not spend time in the waiting room. A few years ago, cancer patients with extremely low blood counts had their blood picked up at home to avoid un-necessary contact with the contagious public. I wonder if these changes have been determined by “evidence based medicine” or “cost effectiveness”.
Since the lab we attended was part of the “community regional health clinic” I found it interesting that only one person was waiting to be seen by a physician in the urgent care facility. I guess the public still prefers to see private practicing physicians. In the case of the laboratories, we have no choice.
Could it be that as choice decreases, quality of care decreases? Just a thought.


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