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In health care, don't pit old against the young

A generation gap | Aug. 18, commentary

Don't pit old against the young

This op-ed column, taken from the New York Times, would have been better titled "A judgment gap." Writer Richard Dooling asks, "Why does the nation continue to incur enormous debt to pay for titanium-knee replacements for octogenarians, when for just a small faction of those costs we could provide children with preventive health care and nutrition?"

The fallacy in this kind of "either-or" thinking pits two disparate groups against one another. This is certainly not an all-or-nothing issue. Judgment and judging are two different aspects of our intellectual capacity.

In 2005, I became the happy recipient of bi-lateral knee replacements at the age of 68. I have since climbed volcanoes in Greece and walked the World War II American cemetery in France, and without my "new" knees, neither occurrence would have been possible. I am self-employed and am able to continue to utilize a lifetime of skills and experience because I have the freedom to "get around."

How does one measure the quality of one's life? At what age will others desire to cut patients off from medical help? How will that be determined, and by whom?

Janice Perelman, Brandon

Useful education

Richard Dooling's op-ed piece was right on. The general public has no idea what happens in hospitals. They just go along with whatever "Doctor" says. Most diagnostics are unnecessary, and some do more harm than good. Keep educating people by publishing more articles like Richard Dooling's.

Barbara Lloyd, Tarpon Springs

A generation gap | Aug. 18, commentary

Consider quality of life over quantity of life

In my 17-plus years in health care, I've seen a lot of unnecessary and necessary treatments being performed. Whether it is due to the litigious country we live in, or due to unrealistic expectations of (guilt-ridden) family members, the lunacy of end-of-life heroics that take place every day in intensive care units around the United States really is mind-boggling.

I've seen family members insist, and doctors agree, to do bilateral hip replacements on a bed ridden, demented, 92-year-old with a bad heart. Does this make sense?

I've also seen an uninsured 23-year-old walk out of the ICU after a near fatal car accident only to face a seemingly endless mountain of debt from his hospitalization. Indirectly he helped to pay, with his meager pay checks and tax deductions to Social Security, for that 92-year-old patient's hospitalization.

There has got to be more focus on quality of life, not quantity of life.

I'm not saying to ration health care and treatments only for the young. I'm saying that there has to be an open dialogue to discuss that everybody has a "shelf life." There should be more focus on a specific treatment plan with a time frame, preventive medicine, education, comfort and dignity.

Jessica Krajcovic, Tarpon Springs

A generation gap | Aug. 18, commentary

Age is a state of mind

All I can say to writer Richard Dooling is: Be careful what you ask for.

Dooling is a 55-year-old lawyer/novelist and among other things, he is an adjunct professor at the University of Nebraska College of Law.

We are all different, from our genetics to our life styles. I just met a 92-year-old Air Force veteran who plays golf almost every day and becomes upset when he doesn't shoot his age. He has had both knees replaced, is without pain and walks and looks like he is in his early 60s.

When I was 16, I thought that someone 76 years old, my current age, was ready for the grave. As I have aged, I have become aware that age is a state of mind. I have a titanium knee and it has greatly improved my quality of life. Before the knee replacement, I could not walk from the pain.

To consider withholding needed medical care from anyone because of their age is criminal. Pitting neonatal care against care for the aged is flawed reasoning, unless you haven't reached your golden years.

Should Dooling be fortunate enough to reach his 80s or 90s, he will better understand the flaws in his reasoning.

Bonny A. Sanchez, Clearwater

A generation gap | Aug. 18, commentary

A wasteful system

This article offered a beautiful illustration of our health care problems. I have been fortunate to have experienced the British health system, the NHS, as a practitioner and patient. Though it's not perfect, it is far from the horror tales we've been hearing lately.

Current health care practiced in the United States is very wasteful and expensive. While the Obamacare reform might not be the absolute best choice, it still beats the current system. Unfortunately the defenders of the status quo are the for-profit health care industry, GOP functionaries and their foot soldiers and the majority of ill-informed but well meaning Americans who are listening to the noise of the millionaires on radio and TV and the self-serving politicians like Sarah Palin.

L. Alli, Tampa

Think prevention's cheaper? Think again Aug. 17, Charles Krauthammer column

It's about cultivating health

Charles Krauthamer's article on preventive medicine is either severely misguided or intends to misguide his readers. He argues that preventive medicine for all would be more expensive in the long run than the cost of treating those who acquire diseases for the rest of their lives. If his reasoning is sound, then we should not only make sure that the basic medical tests be withheld from those who don't have them now, but also that everyone should call their doctors to cancel their own mammograms, checkups, etc.

He cites articles from the journal Circulation and the New England Journal of Medicine to prove his point. Actually, these articles could just as well be used to prove that medical testing in the United States has been overused and overpriced by an industry that can charge whatever the traffic will bear without oversight.

Real preventive medicine is not about expensive testing for all. It's about cultivating the innate health we were all designed to enjoy. The British have preventive medicine in their health budget, and part of that money goes to doctors in the form of bonuses for getting their patients to bring parameters such as blood pressure and cholesterol into normal ranges.

I suspect that the real intent of Krauthammer's article is to undermine any initiative of President Barack Obama.

Patrick Plaskett, St. Petersburg

Think prevention's cheaper? Think again Aug. 17, Charles Krauthammer column

Cost goes beyond treatment

Charles Krauthammer is way off the mark in his comparison of prevention and treatment. The true cost of illness is not the cost of treatment, but the cost of illness itself. Consider a breadwinner who is disabled for 40 years. His loss is felt, of course, by his family who must do whatever is necessary to care for him but also to put bread on the table. His loss is also a loss to society, which will no longer benefit from his contribution and taxes.

The cost of prevention may be measured in pennies. Each annual checkup is an opportunity to discuss diet and exercise as well as measuring blood pressure, blood sugar, kidney and liver functions. Following the doctor's advice may prevent many adverse consequences, rather than the one-by-one analysis Krauthammer attempts.

Carol Abernathy, St. Petersburg

Britons defend health care service | Aug. 15

A chance to catch up

I knew it had to happen soon, if it wasn't already going on. I bet much of Europe and the rest of the world didn't know about our health insurance situation. But now they are "expressing incredulity that the United States boasts of being a superpower while leaving tens of millions of its people uninsured."

Even though we are behind in providing health care to all our citizens, we have a great opportunity now to remedy that and to benefit from seeing what has worked and not worked around the globe. Let's have rational debate and make sure all our citizens have access to quality health care and show the world we are a true superpower.

Howard Taylor, Land O'Lakes

In health care, don't pit old against the young 08/19/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 7:33pm]
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