My “Radical” Healthcare Solution

January 30, 2010

Okay, but face it, Michael… you’re a radical, Jim said to me the other night at dinner. The first time I recall being called a radical was back in grade school. It was also the first time I had ever heard the word, and I didn’t know what it meant. Based on my teacher’s tone, and the fact that my thinking didn’t align with others, I assumed it meant something bad. Over time I learned its meaning and looking back on that first experience, my teacher’s use of the word was pretty accurate. It seems I was, and according to Jim, still am a radical.

His accusation came during a discussion concerning healthcare. Jim’s position was pretty simple: Government should stay the hell out of healthcare… period. After a few more statements along the same vein, I realized Jim, like many U.S. citizens, had taken the bait. By bait, I mean the propaganda that has become the faulty cornerstone of the so-called “healthcare” debate. What made me a radical in his eyes is that I didn’t accept it. I was interested in discussing “health” care… not “sick” care. Jim wanted to argue about government involvement, insurance companies, hospitals, drug companies and so on… politics.

When you stop listening to rhetoric and start looking at reality (facts and evidence), most “problems” start looking different. Healthcare is no exception. It has little to do with the issues being discussed in Washington or in the media. Read more

Beware the Semmelweis Reflex!

November 6, 2009

Metaphorically and literally speaking, the healthcare debate today is totally ill-focused. When it comes to implementing real solutions, it seems most people suddenly decide they’d rather argue, live in denial, and defend the status quo than accept reality and take action. It’s true. They’d rather fight than switch (can you older readers visualize the black eye?). Given the choice of accepting empirical evidence or clinging to misguided beliefs, many… if not most… people will choose misguided beliefs.

The act of automatically rejecting facts without thought or real consideration is sometimes referred to as the Semmelweis reflex… or “Semmelweis effect.” The name comes from Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian physician who, in 1847, discovered that when maternity doctors washed their hands with a chlorinated-lime solution, the incidence of a type of sepsis related to childbirth was significantly reduced. So here’s where the “reflex”/“effect” part comes in: Despite his efforts and the obvious evidence showing that hand-washing reduced mortality below 1%, Semmelweis’ practice wasn’t accepted until years after his death. Furthermore, in 1865, Semmelweis had a mental breakdown and ended up in an asylum, where he died at age 47.

How could this happen? It’s simple. During his lifetime, Semmelweis’ observations and evidence conflicted with the established beliefs of the day. Medical books and doctors back then were focused on bloodletting as a primary treatment for disease… and in contrast to the evidence, they “believed” bloodletting was the best treatment. Read more