Suzanne Gordon writes about health care, political culture, and women's issues. Her latest books are Nursing Against the Odds and From Silence to Voice. Her wepage can be found at http://www.suzannegordon.com/
There are 25.8 million family caregivers in America today. According to a recent study by the United Hospital Fund of New York, they provide the equivalent of nearly $200 billion worth of health care services per year. That's almost double the annual amount the United States spends on nursing home and home health care. Yet when the press and the policy experts tally up the rising costs of a health care system in crisis, they routinely omit family caregivers' enormous contributions of time, energy, and emotional and financial resources--all of which are expended in the isolation of private homes.
It's May 13, the day after Florence Nightingale's birthday, and as part of the annual celebration of Nurses' Week--established in part to commemorate Nightingale's role in the development of professional nursing--members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association have asked me to speak to a group of registered nurses (RNs) at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Health Care Campus in Worcester. Usually, such events are upbeat--occasions for flowery praise of America's largest predominantly female profession, which is also the largest profession in the health care system. Not today. The 30 or so middle-aged nurses who straggle into a bare auditorium look like they're attending a wake.
PC, M.D.: How Political Correctness Is Corrupting Medicine, by Sally Satel, M.D. Basic Books, 256 pages, $27.00.
Are you concerned about the fact that 44 million Americans lack health
insurance and that millions of senior citizens are struggling to pay for medicine
prescribed by their doctors? Are you troubled by the denial of necessary care by
HMOs--or by other well-publicized abuses of "managed care?" Do hospital closings
in your community make you worry about how long it will take to reach an
emergency room if you ever have chest pains or an accident? Do you wonder what
kind of treatment you'll receive in the hospital or a nursing home amidst a
serious national nursing shortage?
Physicians have always had a symbiotic relationship with Hollywood. From Lew Ayres in the 1930s Dr. Kildare films to Andre Braugher in Gideon's Crossing and Melina Kanakaredes in Providence, movie studios and TV networks have enlisted the support of individual doctors and their organizations to provide story ideas, expert advice, and, more recently, high-tech medical equipment and snappy jargon.