What is the State of our Medical Industry?
I don’t want to come across as an alarmist. I believe that the observations I will share represent the exception and not the rule. On the other hand, the nature of a couple of events surrounding the medical industry that made the news this week I find sickening.
First, I saw a portion of 60 Minutes on last Sunday, regarding the Glaxo Case. The pharmaceutical giant pleaded guilty to a felony on last year, and agreed to pay the government $750 million to settle. The company was making bad drugs, some weaker than they were supposed to be, some stronger, some were manufactured with water tainted with bacteria, and even different drugs were being packaged together, according to whistleblower and the plant’s former control manager, Cheryl Eckard. The settlement was the conclusion of her complaints that had begun six years earlier. Out of the settlement, she received $96 million dollars. To me, it is inconceivable that a company entrusted with such a critical aspect of people’s health would be so negligent, and persist to do so for that many years.
Then later this week came the report on Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s infamous study that claimed a link existed between childhood vaccine and autism. By comparing Wakefield’s reported diagnoses with hospital records, British journalist Brian Deer says that Wakefield and his colleagues altered facts about the patients that were part of their study to support Wakefield’s claims. This fraudulent study had the impact of causing many parent to shun the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) shot vaccine for their children, fearing it would make them susceptible to autism. Again, to me this impropriety is the unthinkable. Is there any line we won’t cross these days?
Of course, accidents happen in the medical industry just as they do elsewhere. But then these were not accidents. Those who perpetrated these crimes against humanity knew what they were doing. Thankfully, I have been blessed with some of the best doctors in the medical field. And I believe that most physicians really care about the people they serve. But there are bad ones out there. Going to see them can cost you much more than you want to pay. According to HealthGrades’ Patient Safety in American Hospitals Study, released in April 2009, an estimated 92,882 potentially preventable deaths among Medicare patients occurred in our hospitals from 2005 through 2007.