Sunday, July 25, 2010

Signs of the ObamaFuture


I have always expected that medical body imaging would continue to follow the natural progression in technology that has been going on over the last 150 years: X-rays, CT scans, thermal imaging, magnetic resonant imaging, positron emission imaging -- and who knows what in the future.

Eventually, I thought, we would get to the point where looking inside the body is so cheap and non-invasive that it is done as part of your routine check up.  Cancer is caught early.  Degradation in the structure of the spine is caught before trouble starts.  Even subtle things like endocrine imbalances could be seen.  And then problems would be fixed non-invasively.

I thought it would get to be kinda like Star Trek, with the bad old days of medicine behind us.  As a delirious Dr. McCoy once said:
"Oh, I'd give a lot to see the hospital. Probably... needles and... sutures. All the pain. They used to hand-cut and sew people like garments. Needles and sutures... all the terrible pain!"
Well, our ObamaFuture is starting to look more like Dr. McCoy's nightmare.

The government is already complaining that doctors are ordering too many MRIs for back pain in Minnesota.  They cost too much money, you see.  And now that the government is going to be paying, instead of people and independent insurers, they will be telling all of us, including our doctors, what we can and cannot do.
"While Minnesota hospitals received good marks for the use of CT scans, about 40 percent of outpatients with low-back pain at hospitals here in 2008 had an MRI... 'If a number is high, it may mean the facility is doing too many unnecessary MRIs for low back pain,' the government report noted."
Gee, I figured that actually knowing what was going on would be a good thing. But no, let's prolong the pain and see if it gets better by itself.  That's the future of medicine!

Note that "good marks" from the government means that a hospital is making do with less.  Less technology.  Less medicines.  Less examinations.  And soon it will mean less doctors, less nurses, less patients, less medical care.

You know, I think the problem is that too many hospitals have MRI and CT machines.  If the government would just force them to haul the machines to the dump, we could go back to getting "good marks" in health care again.

 Hauling away a CT machine with a tow truck

Ah, our new ObamaFuture of "limits" and "sustainability".

Lots and lots of change, but no hope at all.

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