Monday, December 7, 2009

Waste in our system

Here's a dogbite story.  Every blog about health care reform needs a dogbite story.  My friend who lives outside of Los Angeles has a very large dog.  One day her dog got into a fight with another very large dog and she made the mistake of getting in the middle. He bit her. Bad doggie.  Don't bite the hand that feeds you!  But dogs will be dogs.  She wasn't going to do anything about it but her family and friends convinced her to go to Urgent Care.  There, a nurse practitioner (who didn't identify herself as a nurse practitioner) sewed it up. Unfortunately, even a third year medical student probably knows not to suture a dog bite tightly closed.  That visit cost $1600.00.  The time involved was less than one half hour.  Then she had to go to the emergeny room when the inevitable infection began in her arm.  The sutures had to be removed. The wound had to be thoroughly irrigated.  She needed three days of intravenous antibiotics and then continued on oral antibiotics. That process cost $20,000.00.  If she had stayed home and cleaned the wound with soap and water, probably she would have been fine, and that would have cost $0.  Think about this.  Probably the nurse practitioner is making $40 per hour and the ER doctor is making $80 per hour.  Where did all the money go?