A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Let's Talk about Quality...Really

Let's Talk about Quality...Really

August 17, 2005

I know, I know! I refer way too often to articles in the New York Times. But dammit, they have some of the best stuff anywhere, and it's irresponsible to ignore. Today, they publish the second of three pieces on the real quality of care in American health care. Click here and weep. Here's a promise: after HCFA gets done with access (no later than 11/06 we hope) we'll grab the quality issue by the throat.

Here's just the start from today's story -- it gets better as it goes along:

"Mary Duffy was lying in bed half-asleep on the morning after her breast cancer surgery in February when a group of white-coated strangers filed into her hospital room. Without a word, one of them - a man - leaned over Ms. Duffy, pulled back her blanket, and stripped her nightgown from her shoulders.

"Weak from the surgery, Ms. Duffy, 55, still managed to exclaim, "Well, good morning," a quiver of sarcasm in her voice. But the doctor ignored her. He talked about carcinomas and circled her bed like a presenter at a lawnmower trade show, while his audience, a half-dozen medical students in their 20's, stared at Ms. Duffy's naked body with detached curiosity, she said.

After what seemed an eternity, the doctor abruptly turned to face her.

"Have you passed gas yet?" he asked.

"Those are his first words to me, in front of everyone," said Ms. Duffy, who runs a food service business near San Jose, Calif.

"I tell him, 'No, I don't do that until the third date,' " she said. "And he looks at me like he's offended, like I'm not holding up my end of the bargain."