Leave Natasha Richardson out of the health care debate

Natasha Richardson in 1999 - ten years before her untimely death

Please don’t turn Natasha Richardson’s tragic death into a symbol for why Canadian-style universal  health care is bad and the United States is better.

In the last six hours, I’ve seen articles from at least a dozen media outlets asking whether Natasha Richardson would have lived, had her skiing accident occurred in the United States instead of Canada, where the quoted commentators say universal health care means insufficient access to high-tech scans and helicopters.

I’m not advocating for or defending Canada’s single-payer health system. Merely, I ask that journalists considering doing this story ask deeper questions that get beyond the anecdote. Consider asking about the trade-offs that go along with providing seemingly unlimited CT scans and helicopters. Ask what would happen if she were an uninsured U.S. resident.

Richardson’s tragedy may represent a larger problem, but those statistics need to accompany the punditry. While not diminishing the tragedy of Richardson’s untimely death, a sample of one is not a good measure of how well a state or nation’s health system performs.

Anecdotes make great stories and can put a face on a problem, but policy should be based on scientific research that reveals truths about the entire population.

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hydrocodone-apapMedical Appointment Cardswill S.Amy LundbergBeth Recent comment authors
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hydrocodone-apap
Guest

This is truly sad to hear and I hope she did not suffer too much. I sincerely hope that she received proper health care to manage her pain at least, which must have been horrific. God bless her and her family!

Medical Appointment Cards
Guest

The for-profit medical industrial complex in the USA has a vested interest in keeping the status quo. They will find every person in Canada who is unhappy with their nation’s heath care plan and fly them down here first class to tell about the “horrors” of universal health care. This will go into 24/7 rotation in the corporate media. This will be how the debate will be framed in the USA…no polite, factual discussion allowed because they will loose if the facts are presented to the American public…Better to confuse and obfuscate the facts…as well as keep them distracted with… Read more »

will S.
Guest
will S.

What does this incident say about Health Care in Canada though?
Does universal Health Care mean sacrificing the medical equipment that could save your life if you need it one day?
How can a centralized Health Care system become more efficient, better managed, and further research in terms of medicine?

Amy Lundberg
Guest

Such a tragic accident.

Peter
Guest
Peter

Oh, and for those who think government run is a failure read this:
http://www.thestar.com/article/609875
“Yet, 15 years ago, the then-fragmented system was plagued with medical and aviation problems.” “During the early 1990s, the system was fragmented, run by private companies vying for ministry dollars, and plagued by medical and aviation problems.” “Finally, in 2005, the province heeded the advice of experts to streamline the service. It’s now a world leader in air medical transport.”

Peter
Guest
Peter

Well if we’re going to do the battle of the links here’s one (Vancouver Sun):
http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/Canadian+healthcare+didn+kill+Natasha+Richardson+doctor/1441951/story.html
Be sure to read the comments at the bottom of the piece.
“and only “died” here because this is where her vent was turned off ultimately.”
Beth, I would have thought that Amercian medicine could have brought her back, or at least that’s what Stuart Browning would have us think, after all the U.S. spends all this money on healthcare over Canada. And where were all the Terry Schiavo demonstrators protesting that Natasha Richardson was actually viable?

cory
Guest
cory

It took a couple of days but the people who actually know, the Canadian trauma specialists, are weighing in. All the people who blame Ms. Richardson, or say she was unsalvageable, should read the comments of the real experts:
http://www.edsonleader.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1502015
http://www2.canada.com/montrealgazette/features/viewpoints/story.html?id=c92ec465-620d-4a11-a749-9cc1edaea02d

Beth
Guest
Beth

“Looks like she was alive in Canada and as soon as she was flown to U.S. for medical car she died. What does that say about American medicine?”
Posted by: Peter | Mar 30, 2009 4:50:46 AM
This is a rather inflammatory and incorrect statement. The reports were that she was already thought brain dead prior to leaving Canada and only “died” here because this is where her vent was turned off ultimately.
In essence, it says nothing about American medicine.

Stuart Browning
Guest

Actually – contrary to what Mr. Holt says – the care provided in Canada IS different. Patients wait inordinate times for diagnostic tests, for appointments with specialists, and for procedures. These long waits affect outcomes for everything from orthopedic surgery to cancer. Making everyone responsible for everyone else’s health care cost does nothing to reduce its cost. Canada and other OECD countries reduce heath care spending by denying care. This is the reality of collectivized medicine. Rationing, pure and simple. And this is what is advocated by Holt and others here. Individual rights, privacy rights, private property rights … all… Read more »

Lynda Peil
Guest
Lynda Peil

Was there a CT scan at the first hospital where she was taken? I haven’t seen a comment on this.

Matthew Holt
Guest

Picking Richardson’s death as an example is counter-weighted by the opening chapter of Jon Cohn’s “Sick” in which a woman dies because the hospital can’t take her. Oh, and that hospital is in Boston, the city that spends the most on health care. So to remind you all, especially Mr Browing–it’s not the care provided here or in Canada that’s so different. It’s how the cost of that care is visited on the poorest and sickest amongst us. And there’s no question, as countless studies here have shown, that the US system is by far worst for the financial health… Read more »

Peter
Guest
Peter

“I don’t know of a major ski area in the US that is far from a CT scanner.”
I don’t know a McDonalds that is far from a CT Scanner. That’s one of the problems with U.S. healthcare, too many toys to support.

Christopher George
Guest
Christopher George

I don’t know of a major ski area in the US that is far from a CT scanner. Patients with head trauma are treated exactly the same, insurance or no insurance, in every hospital I have ever worked in.

Sarah Arnquist
Guest
Sarah Arnquist

Duncan and Stuart — You make good points and I appreciate your criticism. I can tell you such editing is not common and in this case was a mistake. I think using a strike-through to mark changes is an excellent suggestion for future editing.

Joel High
Guest
Joel High

Amen!!!