Friday, June 12, 2009

Oh Canada ... and health care reform

In "This Time, We Won't Scare," New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof debunks some of the scaremongering that's going on surrounding the U.S. need for health care reform.

"No doubt there are some genuine horror stories in Canada, as there are here in the United States.

But the bottom line is that America’s health care system spends nearly twice as much per person as Canada’s (building the wealth of hospital tycoons like Mr. Scott). Yet our infant mortality rate is 40 percent higher than Canada’s, and American mothers are 57 percent more likely to die in childbirth than Canadian ones."

Read the full column here.

And a related story from the L.A. Times about health care, childbirth and the costs, risks and high number of c-sections in the U.S.

"The cesarean rate in the U.S. is higher than in most other developed nations. And in spite of a standing government goal of reducing such deliveries, the U.S. has set a new record every year for more than a decade.

The problem, experts say, is that the cesarean -- delivery via uterine incision -- exposes a woman to the risk of infection, blood clots and other serious problems. Cesareans also have been shown to increase premature births and the need for intensive care for newborns. Even without such complications, cesareans result in longer hospital stays.

Inducing childbirth -- bringing on or hastening labor with the drug oxytocin -- also is on the rise and is another source of growing concern. Experts say miscalculations often result in the delivery of infants who are too young to breathe on their own. Induction, studies show, also raises the risk of complications that lead to cesareans.

Despite all this intervention -- and, many believe, because of it -- childbirth in the U.S. doesn't measure up. The U.S. lags behind other developed nations on key performance indicators including infant mortality and birth weight."

~Lisa Girion

Full story at the L.A. Times.

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