24 May 2009

Hazardous waste

There is one thing that is vital if quality healthcare is to continue to be made available to all and that is keeping a lid on the costs. This is a challenge that in the UK we have tried to address with organisations like NICE. Some drugs are just so ridiculously expensive they cannot be cost-effective. But put that in a tabloid headline or listen to the likes of Karol Sikora and it can be a difficult line to defend. If you are a doctor out just to make as much money as you possibly can, it would not be a line you would want to defend.

Despite the innovation of NICE, in its headlong rush to a more US style of medicine, our government, with its penchant for Walk-in Centres, Darzi polyclinics and the like has repeatedly failed to grasp that more care is not necessarily better care. There is another side to this story and it is being told in a film:

Money-Driven Medicine explores how a profit-driven health care system squanders billions of health care dollars, while exposing millions of patients to unnecessary or redundant tests, unproven, sometimes unwanted procedures, and over-priced drugs and devices that, too often, are no better than the less expensive products they have replaced.

It’s ‘hazardous waste’—waste that is hazardous to our health.

‘We want someone to know what is going on,’ explained one prominent physician in Manhattan. ‘But please don’t use my name. You have to promise me that. In this business, the politics are so rough—it would be the end of my career.’

The New York premiere of Money-Driven Medicine is on June 11th. Dr Grumble will be 2400 miles away from New York so he is not going to be able to make it but there is a DVD on its way.

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