Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On The Ground

Spain has socialized medicine. Avoiding a political debate in this forum, let me first say a foreign diplomat of good health recently died in a local hospital of an infection following a very simple surgical procedure. Another diplomat spent four days on a gurney in the hallway of the ER following surgery. Anecdotal stories of doctors not washing their hands or the like are common. In short, try and stay healthy while here. Overall, hygiene in Spain is basic. Public restrooms frequently lack soap or towels. Smoking is everywhere, despite the widely heralded reports of a smoking ban. Like any major city, Madrid is littered with dog feces, vomit and urine -- only with more of a reckless disregard.

Diplomatic post report, December 2007

31 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those filthy, commie spaniards!


Yep, no one in the US ever dies from an infection after a simple surgery. And no one is ever stuck in the hall on a gurney after treatment.

Has this schmuck been in a US hospital lately?

12/19/2007 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do business in Spain and I not sure what planet this diplomat is from.

Yes, smoking is still a problem but it is less that it was before the non smoking ban went into effect.

I can assure you that even in rural areas, where I do my busines, Spain a lot like the USA in public services, but with out Wal-Mart.

12/19/2007 10:11 AM  
Anonymous elfranko said...

and you posted this tidbit, why?

12/19/2007 10:39 AM  
Anonymous Davebo said...

Whiny diplomat!

I say we send him to Iraq where he'll surely get top flight medical care after being shot by a private security contractor.

12/19/2007 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellency, there are orphans wandering from house to house; abandoned cattle bellow in the high roads, the stink of rotting crops hangs everywhere, and no man knows whe the harlot's cry will end his life - and you wonder yet if rebellion spoke? Better you should marvel how they do not burn your province!

-Reverend Hale from The Crucible

12/19/2007 11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm also wondering why this was posted? Simply to show how idiotic some people in our diplomatic corps can be?

As for Spain's health care. Let's go to the data:

Life expectancy -

Spain 79.37 in 2004
http://www.airninja.com/worldfacts/countries/Spain/lifeexpectancy.htm

US 77.8 in 2004
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lifexpec.htm

Spain also has a lower child death rate:
http://www.mindfully.org/Health/2007/US-Death-Rate1may07.htm

And i'm guessing they spend a LOT less for their health care per person than we do.

12/19/2007 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Details, details.

1) Name the diplomat, the procedure, the hospital, and the time this happened.

2) Goes for everything else, too.

If you don't have the facts, don't spread the story.

12/19/2007 12:59 PM  
Blogger The Cunning Realist said...

Previous posters: I posted it because it interested me. That's generally the bar for what gets posted here. If you don't like it, take a hike....my sandbox, my rules. In the meantime, I'll ask my mailman if he's seen your monthly subscription payments anywhere.

12/19/2007 1:48 PM  
Anonymous Thomas Daulton said...

Yes, anecdotal evidence is viscerally effective. But in the question of health care, I always lean towards the truism: a genius is someone who can see something that isn't there yet, and bring it to reality. Every country's health care problems are different. No amount of evidence from Spain, England, or Canada will ever convince me that Americans are incapable of creating an equitable and efficacious national health care system if we really made it a national priority. If they can put a man on the moon, etc.

Take the Veterans' Administration medical system. After the first Gulf War, it was a roach-infested deathtrap. Under the Clinton Administration, they shook out the problems and inefficiencies, and in 2000/2001/2002, you can look up articles praising its performance and showing economic and medical statistics that significantly surpassed the general public's system. Then after a few years of "Heckuva job, Brownie", it became a roach-infested deathtrap again. This is not an insoluble problem, people. Not too many countries have solved all the problems at once, but somewhere in the world, national systems have solved each of the various problems that vex the U.S.

12/19/2007 1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wondering if this is an example of confirmation bias regarding socialized medicine?

The rest could most certainly be seen as unrepresentative of the country as a whole (e.g. feces, urine, etc). Might not seem so unfair if it had been about Haiti or New Orleans.

12/19/2007 2:04 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Thomas Daulton-

The VA is still a top notch operation, although now becoming somewhat resource-strained. The roach-infested death traps are the *Army* hospitals. Those are not part of the *Veterans* Administration.

12/19/2007 2:05 PM  
Anonymous Gus said...

I thought it was interesting, too. Thought maybe it was a comment on the nanny state/non nanny dichotomy. Socialized medicine (which I am for), smoking everywhere (no smoking bans, like we have in MN).

12/19/2007 3:52 PM  
Anonymous Thomas Daulton said...

To Chris and the VA: Profuse apologies. I followed the VA story through 2002, but I was too busy to really look into the Walter Reid scandal. Sorry.

As I said, it's easy to find articles on the Internet praising the turnaround in the VA's performance. Many people suggest we could expand some of its proven-successful principles for use by all citizens. These people are always ignored.

12/19/2007 4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey CR,

I think few of us meant our posts to be taken critically. I, for one, was sincerely curious why you chose to post the excerpt. That some of us were a little perplexed speaks to the clarity of 99.99% of the other posts.

12/19/2007 6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A relative lived in Spain for a while, and they had similar sentiments about their electricity. It was unpredictable, shoddy, and sporadically available. You had stoves, but no dryers, everything is hug out. So no surprise.

Looked up infant mortality: Spain listed 14th on infant mortality rate (4.31 death/1000 live). The US 37th (6.37 death/1000).

US health system, pretty good fixing broken bones, if you are in the right location, at the right time, with the right insurance, not so hot at prevention and the rest. The best advice, don't get sick or hurt. And then you don't have to worry about not being able to afford healthcare, or being hit by a super-bug infection, or unsanitary needles, misccategorized drugs, or infected blood or organs. An average of 195k die each year to preventable errors - equivalent of 390 jumbo jets full of people. That doesn't include viruses or bacteria caught while in the hospital from needles/IVs, catheters, unwashed hands, etc.

Wasn't it GMA that showed a woman with a broken back being told that she didn't need hospitalization and wouldn't pay for her needed surgery. It's so easy to pass judgement when you haven't experienced the problem in the healthcare/insurance industry. Story on Dateline/Nightline about Medical tourism. Showed a guy in LA who needed heart surgery. Another was a gal who needed hip replacement. They all went to places like Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, etc.

I thought it was interesting the care Alan Alda talked about receiving when he had a critical medical emergency in Chile.

This is a very complicated issue, and you have presented such a short narrow viewpoint. Certainly we can all agree the insurance companies aren't helping improve the situation.

12/19/2007 7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I don't see the diplomat's comment as revealing much of anything, save the isolation of many of our civil servants. I can say that, because I'm a civil servant, too.

I'll match CR's story with one of my own: I know a former foreign service officer who was going on about how shoddy French health care was, because he saw some people in casts that weren't as large and snow white as what you see here. I don't know anything about French orthopedics myself, but I used to work in health care, and I mentioned that what counts is immobilizing the bones, not aesthetics -- it's hard to judge by appearances. In any case, the guy's real standard of comparison is the treatment he gets via the sweet federal health insurance deal. It's covered things like the new titanium knees that he needed when his morbid obesity blew out the original set. But this is a guy who, so far as I know, has never worked in the real economy, and thus has never had to encounter folks who don't have any kind of health care AT ALL, until circumstances force them to the emergency room.

Your diplomatic corps, there.
-- sglover

12/19/2007 11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stats from the World Health Organization

Spain vs United States

12/20/2007 12:13 AM  
Anonymous Not Sure said...

Given the practice of crony stacking in the diplomatic corps ( by all administrations ) I would be curious to see the occupational background of the reporter. Maybe he has an interest in the national healthcare debate that would color his commentary.

12/20/2007 12:51 AM  
Blogger Chris F. said...

TCR, no argument from me. Post away. If it creates as much discussion as this has, all the better.

Personally, I am sick of anecdotal evidence being used to prove how bad for a country certain liberal/progressive programs would be for America. The one posted regarding health care pisses me off as much as the anecdotes about the supposedly poor African Americans living in the inner cities living off of food stamps but driving Cadillacs. Maybe there are a few Cadillacs in the hood. Let's ignore the fact that they are between 10 and 30 years old, and that a Cadillac's resale value used is and has always been absolute rubbish, so they can be had for cheap, cheaper than many other vehicles which might be better for poorer citizens. Aside from that, who doesn't want to have a slice of luxury in their life (especially if it can be had for less-than-perceived-sticker-value). This is America! Our streets are paved in gold and our poor live like kings! Oh, bother.

12/20/2007 12:53 AM  
Anonymous The Lounsbury said...

Frankly, and to echo comments supra, this is silly bollocks. Spanish health care is fine, having used it, and the hyperbolic description of Madrdid is just.... well from another planet.

12/21/2007 4:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Like any major city, Madrid is littered with dog feces, vomit and urine"

you need to visit a better class of city! vomit??

you can find horror stories regarding medical care anywhere..including the USA

but the city remark lost you credibility..at least with me

12/22/2007 5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seldom is dental healthcare or vision discussed when these issues are covered. We can make jokes about the English having bad teeth, but Kentucky has the distinguish of having no teeth. Icks!

In Kentucky's Teeth, Toll of Poverty and Neglect"

"...a state with the highest proportion of adults under 65 without teeth, where about half the population does not have dental insurance."

:-(

12/24/2007 3:42 PM  
Anonymous Doug said...

"not sure" is completely off base. Political appointments cover ambassadors, certain positions in DC and a very few others who are direct envoys of the president. The rest of the diplomatic corps is recruited by competitive examination. That process is not without its flaws, but "crony stacking" is not correct.

12/27/2007 6:53 AM  
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