"Because that's what we do here..."
June 26, 2009
The June 23 Time magazine has an article on healthcare reform (Michael Grunwald’s “How to Cut Health-Care Costs: Less Care, More Data”)which begins with a story about Ezekiel Emanuel, who spoke here in KC two years ago on pandemic policies, and is now near brother Rahm in the Obama White House.
The article says, “Ezekiel Emanuel got a memorable introduction to our haphazard health-care system on his first visit to a cancer ward as a medical student. The white coats were ordering a transfusion for a teenage girl, and since shyness does not run in his family. . . .he interrupted to ask why.
Because she had Hodgkin’s disease and her platelets were below 20,000, the team explained.
Emanuel still had questions: Was there evidence for that protocol? Don’t some hospitals wait until 10,000? Why 20,000? Because that’s what we do here, one doc replied.”
“Because that’s what we do here. . . .”
I am reminded of those years I taught undergraduates that to cling stubbornly to the status quo was immoral.
I won’t hastily judge the “immoral” part—but I will question if our healthcare professionals, like banking, insurance, investing professionals, realize that “the unexamined habits of one’s profession are not worth continuing.” (With apologies to Socrates.)
Will the rich resources of reflective ethics committee members be tapped when professionals need to reconsider “that’s what we do here” in the age of reform?