There is a Fracture - I need to Fix It

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Photo: Courtesy of Sura Naulpradid

A popular animated web video has been circulating the medical profession depicting an orthopedic surgeon trying to convince an anesthesiologist that he needs to operate on a person because “there is a fracture; [he] need[s] to fix it.” What the orthopedic surgeon doesn’t tell the anesthesiologist is that the fracture is on the femur of a 97-year old woman who already died. Though the scenario is a little far-fetched, it depicts the constant struggle of medical professionals to determine when surgery is truly needed and whether or not doctors are just performing surgeries for the glory and the paycheck associated with operation.

Americans are currently spending more than $2.3 trillion annually on health care. Clearly something needs to be done. If you were a doctor, would you give a hip replacement to an elderly person with terminal cancer? How about giving a pricey treatment to someone you know cannot afford it? There is no clear-cut answer to these questions, but the government has been trying to make a difference.

To assist doctors in making their treatment decisions, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was put into place in March of 2010. The Act essentially aims to deliver health care that respects both patient and family preferences while also controlling rising health care costs. The Act gives new rights and benefits to American people by allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s health insurance until age 26, to end lifetime and most annual limits on care, to help more children get health coverage, and to give patients access to recommended preventive services without cost. The government and American people alike hope The Act helps to reduce health care costs across the board. Only time will truly tell if it works. 

Until that time we, as American citizens, need to work hard to keep our doctors honest as to which treatments are needed, which are optional, and which are just burning a hole in our pockets. Certainly it won’t be an easy task, considering the medical profession is the largest and biggest moneymaking industry in the world, but we must fight together. With time Americans will start spending less on medicine and more on what really matters in life: family, friends, and happiness.

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