Bureaucratic Red Tape Makes for Lots of Suffering


This was sent to me by a long-time reader of this site.  I think it is worth sharing:

Dear Dr. Farrago:

I just lost my 89 year old mother to ovarian cancer. She had been having issues with nausea and her physician thought it was related to her diabetes, which had been detected shortly before her 80th birthday. She finally got a CT scan which revealed probable stage 4 cancer.  When an oncologist/surgeon confirmed the diagnosis, he was unavailable to operate for a full month.

Her pain was so intense by the time of the pre-op due to abdominal swelling that she spent the night in agony at the emergency room, though she couldn’t be admitted due to some stupid Medicare rules. When the oncologist told my sister that she could be admitted if she became sicker, she responded, “How much sicker can she get?”

One of the craziest things that happened prior to surgery was the requirement by law that she be informed that “This procedure will leave you unable to have children.” It would have been a miracle greater than the Biblical Rachel’s late-in-life pregnancy, as my mother had undergone a partial hysterectomy decades earlier. And she was 89!

I feel like physicians did what they could, though the idiotic red tape and delays reduced her odds of recovery from slim to none. I can only imagine how worse it will get as the hideous bureaucratic reach of ObamaCare takes hold.

Thanks for sharing.  Nothing slows down progress like the high coefficient of bureaucratic drag.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  3 comments for “Bureaucratic Red Tape Makes for Lots of Suffering

  1. Melinda
    November 11, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    As a fellow ovarian cancer patient, I sent this writer my deepest sympathy. I, too, have dealt with ridiculous things in my care and try hard to appreciate my doctors, who have to deal with the nonsense surrounding them and still do their jobs to try to help patients. I am a veterinarian and am grateful we don’t have the same structure to our work.

  2. Pat
    November 11, 2014 at 11:16 am

    This is the very lesson we should have been learning from Medicare these past 4 decades, seeking to privatize these bloated programs rather than expandning this cruel and inefficient incompetency to cover more patients. THose that vote overwhelmingly in favor of government-provided care cannot – or will not – grasp that it is inseperable from the red tape and deficits which always get worse.

    • R Watkins
      November 11, 2014 at 12:04 pm

      No fan of Medicare, but private insurers are far worse to deal with on a day-in, day-out basis: arbitrary and unannounced policy changes, crushing pre-auths, incompetent and erroneous claims processing, ever-changing formularies and narrow networks. And, if they gain a large enough market share, they cut payment to 85% of Medicare. Sorry, but I have no interest in letting United and Aetna get their claws on even more of our medical care dollars.

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