Too conditioned to question the system?

Kevin, MD links to a story from England. The headline to the story states “I was too shy to talk to my doctor – and it nearly killed me”. That’s an interesting way of characterizing the facts. While the man, Andrew Wilson, did delay seeking treatment for six months, in part out of embarrassment, he also said he was too busy. If it said his delay almost killed him, it’d be much closer to the truth.

Unfortunately, the headline ignored what was clearly a much larger factor. Consider:

‘But as I doubled over in agony, I thought: ‘I wonder if…’ His GP gave him a prescription to treat an upset stomach. ‘Having suffered bowel problems for six months, I mentioned bowel cancer, but he said there was nothing to worry about and told me to come back if the pain persisted.

‘I rang my GP but he told me not to worry – “It’s probably piles,” he said.

‘My GP had said to me before I left for the States: “Don’t go on the internet and look up your symptoms or you will give yourself a fright.” But I was already frightened.’

The easier of at least two conclusions is medical incompetence for ignoring the symptoms because Mr. Wilson didn’t fit the typical bowel cancer case. But is it possible that in addition to, or in place of, incompetence, socialized medicine is to blame? The people are paying and the people don’t want to waste money on low probabilities, even though low probabilities mean that someone will actually have cancer. That’s sane?

The “right” to health care doesn’t include the right to live in spite of the well-considered economic rationing decisions of the majority? No. The article makes a cursory nod to its own title when it includes “many people are too embarrassed to report symptoms until they become debilitating.” That does not justify the title.

Before we rush into socialized medicine, we should understand the warning signs cancerous economics. Or are we too embarrassed to consider that economic populism is wrong?

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