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November 6, 2010

Saving the Junkie

"Drugs got him here, and drugs will be his salvation. He wasn't breathing when the fire department EMTs arrived. Narcan helped his respirations, but nothing else. They're not sure what he took.

"They've barely stopped bagging when we walk in. Not down too long, they say. History of drug abuse and suicide attempts. So we start the workup.

"I start a line in his ankle, the only site I can find. My partner hooks him up to the monitor. He's breathing forty times a minute, but his oxygen saturations hover around 85%. He won't wake up and his lungs sound like a tire chain in a tumble dryer. Even with suctioning, an NPA, and more bagging, he doesn't really improve. His jaw is locked tight, and all I can do is run the Yankauer over his teeth.

"The nearest hospital is 35 miles away, on windy, rain-slick country roads." -- Drug-Induced Hallucinations: Drugs

Posted by Vanderleun at November 6, 2010 2:41 PM. This is an entry on the sideblog of American Digest: Check it out.

Your Say

Georgia voters turned down a $10 per vehicle tag tax to fund the building of new trauma hospitals across the state last Tuesday. Supporters of the tax ran sob-story ads on tv depicting people who "would have been" saved if only a hospital was closer to the accident. The disappointed members of the medical community to whom I've spoken were surprised by the vote. They seemed deaf when I suggested that, first, it was a tax and The People are sick and tired of being taxed, and second, The People don't want more government-run anything, especially healthcare centers. The voters were not fooled by the fear-stirring ads and the appeals to compassion while another government beast was in the making.

Posted by: twolaneflash at November 6, 2010 3:36 PM

Twolane you make a good point. I noticed numerous doctors during the "health care reform" debate just assuming that single payer health care would fix so many things wrong with the system now. While doctors have a reputation for being flush with money, and too many people think that means they are savvy with their own investments, doctors are seldom good with money. They just have more income than average Joes.

Money for doctors is too often an intrusion into their medical thinking. Patients and insurance companies balking at the costs, or other such hassles over money. In their mind, if someone, anyone, would just take on all of the money hassles and let them concentrate on the medical all would be better. As a former airplane mechanic I often wanted to keep away from the money portion of the repairs and focus on the best technical fix.

But we are in this mess precisely because we have removed the medical from the monetary. Until every patient is forced to balance their needs and their money costs will rapidly escalate and we will waste vast sums to gain small marginal improvements.

Many of the doctors get this, but not many the media will turn to for analysis.

Posted by: Scott M at November 7, 2010 1:49 AM

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