And now for the news…

American ER Doc Gone Walkabout Episode 0017

First, the news… A couple of days ago, the news in Launceston: police want to be allowed to wear beanies when it’s cold…Can’t you Aussies even provide warmth for your citizens? These guys are protecting you.

And, in the US news: I live in Colorado where temperatures are approaching 40. Most of the state is on fire – bush fires that have burned something like 500 homes. The firefighters are seasonal workers, so they don’t get health insurance cover with their jobs. But, they get decent pay, so they don’t qualify for the (skimpy) governmental insurance – Medicaid. Even if they are volunteering, and have no income, and are dirt poor, they wouldn’t get Medicaid unless they have children. Single, married without kids – if you get sick or hurt YOYO (You’re On You’re Own). If they go out to buy health insurance in the private market, if they have any kind of pre-existing condition, they may not be able to get cover at any price. If they can get it, they may not be able to afford it at the sort of pay that a seasonal firefighter gets (my son pays $220 per month for basic coverage with a $1500 deductible). Maybe the lack of beanies doesn’t sound so bad.

You might have heard also in the US news: The Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS – sounds like an itchy disease of the male genitalia) says it’s actually OK for the US to provide health insure cover for some of the 47 million or so who can’t get, under any circumstances, health insurance in the US now. Good on ‘ya mates! Make me proud. Actually, if everything goes as planned in 2014, there will still be at least 20 million without cover, and perhaps more. And, with a big election coming up, the Republicans are announcing that if elected, they will repeal the Affordable Care Act – why would Americans want to try to help our most vulnerable citizens – even though they feed us our burgers, make our beds while we travel, and care for our lawns? Not if it requires one individualistic American to pay a bit more tax, or be required to buy his own health insurance. OK, so I’m not so proud.

Now for today’s US health care “makes me crazy”: I just finished 3 night shifts. Since we have electronic medical records, I get to finish all the paperwork when I get home – 81 charts waiting for me in my “inbox”. Among many other absurdities that turn my 9 hour shifts into 11 hour shifts (with no extra pay) was this: New policy that even when my clinical notes reach many pages, I must include an explicit statement that “A medical screening exam was performed.” WTF? I just described asking this poor guy about every detail of his life and love, I looked in his eyes, stuck a finger up his butt, and some paperwork jockey can’t figure out that I did a “screening medical exam?”

Hope you Tassies are enjoying cool weather – here, it’s been near 40 and most of my home state of Colorado is on fire.

What could be better?

Next time:  I called in sick for a shift

ER doc walkabout Rick Abbott LITFL 700

American ER doc


Rick Abbott (aka American ER doc gone walkabout ) has been an ER Doc since 1973 and has bad wanderlust.

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