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28

OCTOBER, 2018

Rushed sex change operations on teenagers
Private cancer patients left infertile after
cancer treatments

A recent UK investigation into sub standard practices referred to private hospitals as the ‘red light district’ of medicine.

While people think that private medical treatment will be superior to that which they will receive in a public system, the opposite may be the case.

With a predominance of 19th century attitudes to healthcare and dearth of 20th century technology, it’s a quandry as to why people are still willingly opting for private treatment?

That’s not to give the impression that public hospitals are without problems.

These can include –

– Public hospitals are overcrowded and noisy and patients can be packed into overcrowded wards or left unattended for hours – possibly on emergency trolleys.

– Meals can often consist of stale sandwiches and lukewarm drinks.

– Delays and cancellations are commonplace and treatment is often deferred at the last minute due to lack of resources.

– Fear of government fines and an inordinate about of box ticking dominate the clinical flow and has caused doctors to lose control over the treatment of their patients. Very often it’s administrative bureaucrats, who have no idea of the consequences of their over-regulation of procedures, who are in control of patients care.

– A rotating series of doctors or specialists whom a patient will be unlikely to see twice.

However private Hospitals are not without problems of their own, which in some cases are related to their focus on making money.

These can include –

– Refusal to provide quotes for procedures in advance which can lead to unexpected hardship for a person unprepared financially for the cost of treatment in private facility.

– Insistence that payments are to be made up-front and in cash before any treatment can proceed can cause distress to sick people and delay treatment – especially if a delay can cause additional deterioration in health.

– Ignoring or lack of response to complaints, particularly if their rectification would involve additional expense to the business. This means poor practices are not improved.

– Continuing to use error prone paper systems which frequently results in errors, delays, unnecessary duplication and additional costs instead of using modern electronic systems.

– Ignoring the importance of patient education which prevents the patient from making their own informed treatment choices, (which may result in the patient opting to have no treatment).

– Ignoring the recommended best practice standards that public hospitals are forced to follow because they invariably add to cost.

Examples of this are patients in a private facility being without access to a qualified doctor after hours and at weekends. Instead the facility is staffed by a skeleton staff of casual, low paid, low skill nurses, who are only capable of providing minimal care.

– Deliberate over servicing of vulnerable patients who cannot know what tests and treatments are necessary, (and which aren’t), which can lead to additional unrecoverable costs to them while only profiting the facility.

– Private practitioners who, in reality, are likely to provide a minimum amount of time with each client – as the more people they see the more income they generate.

Small wonder the public has little knowledge of these practices because the media rarely reports on them.

What does this mean to you …?

Ask yourself, if you were required to be admitted to a hospital for treatment, would you would the best and most affordable treatment possible?

Of course you would, so where would you go?

Sadly, there is no consumer information about private health care to give the information you’d need to make a logical decision about which hospital to attend.

Naturally, you’d go to your doctor for a referral – and take his/her advice.

But, you really have no idea about the facility they’re referring you to, their relationship with it, or what to expect when you get there.

There is no ‘patient rating’ site, (like there is for travel or accommodation hire), for hospitals – so you’d be unable to get feedback from others about their experiences in the same facility.

While ‘treatment-on-demand’ might appear alluring, patients do not have medical training and don’t necessarily understand what is the best way to treat their conditions.

Unnecessary tests and treatments and the costs that they incur represent one of the bigger issues in modern healthcare.

Studies have revealed that up to a third of western medical treatments are not clinically relevant. In some cases excessive treatments have actually done harm to patients. A number of factors are driving this  –

– Profiteering.

– Defensive medicine and fear of litigation.

– Rising expectation of patients, who see themselves as consumers with rights.

– Misleading media stories that promote medical treatment as being part of everyone’s ‘human rights’.

– Misleading movies that show all hospitals as spotless and perfectly managed with nursing staff falling over themselves to provide instant care and attention and doctors who seem to have nothing better to do than look after you.

Chronic conditions which are caused by obesity, smoking, diet, stress and emotional distress. They could probably be better treated in the community rather than being aggressively treated in hospitals.

Hospitals and medical practitioners don’t get paid to keep people well. They generate income by treating unwell people and prescribing medical treatments.

Some medical procedures currently being performed in private hospitals involve life changing procedures which realistically would require a significant amount of patient education before being performed.

For example …

A young women in her twenties required treatment at a regional private hospital for breast cancer, which included chemotherapy.

She was not advised about the side effects of chemotherapy or about fertility preservation options.

Several years later this woman returned to the private specialist asking why she couldn’t get pregnant. Unable to find an answer her GP referred her to an IVF specialist. There she was advised that infertility was common side effect of chemotherapy.

Unable to have children the marriage broke down.

Five years after private breast cancer treatment, the woman had no marriage, no children and was suffering from depression.

A theatre in a small, private hospital, where sex change operations were quietly being done, a surgeon made degrading comments about his unconscious teenage patient ‘having no balls’ during the operation.

There was no opposition in theatre to the surgeon running commentary, ridiculing his patient during the entire procedure.

The same teenager returned to the private hospital several years later, in a state of distress asking for a reversal of the procedure.

The private hospital where this surgery takes place offers no allied health team support, specialist medical service or nursing education for sex change operations.

Had the patient been correctly counselled and educated prior to the original operation it may have prevented the necessity for the reversal in the first place.

In conclusion … before you agree to any medical treatment, consider … public or private.

Remember, while the promise of five star hotel accommodation has a strong lure consider that private hospitals are money-making ventures. The more procedures they do, the more money they make.

Be aware that your overall experience and result may not justify the additional expense to you – even worse, your treatment may not be up to the standard you have a right to expect.

Not every medical condition needs to be fixed by surgery or medication.

Consider your options – get a second opinion – a third opinion…

And when it comes to your health all that glitters may not necessarily be good medicine.

© Wikihospitals November 2018

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