Setting Priorities

I sometimes think that all of our healthcare problems could be solved if people could just get their priorities straight.  I talk to patients every day who won't buy their high blood pressure medications because they "don't have any money until their CMSP kicks in" but yet they have the money to buy meth.  They can't get in to see their primary care doctor for a follow-up because they only have enough gas this week to get them to the E.D. and back, yet they insist on driving the most expensive 4x4 truck that gets 7 miles to the gallon.

I've had patients with dental abscesses buy their pain medications but not the antibiotics because "that's all I could afford;"  probably along with the pack of cigarettes they just had to have as well.  I've had to dispense Tylenol and Ibuprofen to children because their parents don't have "time to run to the store" but seem to have time to text on their cell phones while making appointments for their manicures, and asking if we can "watch the kid for a second while I run out for a smoke."

I had a child (18 month old) brought in who was three times the weight they should be because "grandma gives them a liter bottle of Pepsi" every day when she babysits.  When I suggested that Grandma not buy any, the parent responded "but ___ will cry if he doesn't get his Pepsi."  And, I've heard the same said about Happy Meals, ice creams, Starbucks, etc.  which explains all the "Baby Hueys" I've been increasingly seeing in the E.D.

Until patients start taking some responsibility for their health, we're going to continue to see medical expenses rise.  And, we're going to continue to be the nation spending the most on healthcare and not seeing a return on our investment as patients become even more obese, diabetic, hypertensive or continue with their narcotic, alcohol, or tobacco addictions which lead to their own special set of problems.  As a friend of mine likes to point out, "You call it annoying;  I call it job security."

**these views do not reflect the physician group, hospital, nor any of the professional institutions nor associations with which I am affiliated.


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