Socialized Medical Care in the UK is So Inefficient That About 300K Patients Were Given the Wrong Prescription Drugs
The healthcare system in the United States isn’t completely socialist – that is, fully government run – yet, but Obamacare pushed our system much closer to it than it previously was, and the trend is still heading that way. But, despite promises of “free this” and “free that” when it comes to care, Americans really ought to be wary of what they ask for, because if we’re really unlucky we will get it, and it will resemble the collapsing system in the United Kingdom at best, and the one in Venezuela at worst.
Regarding the former, the UK’s Daily Mail reported in recent days that a major IT system belonging to the country’s National Health Service (NHS) has made a terrible blunder, leading to as many as 300,000 people getting the wrong prescription drugs or medical advice. (Healthcare.gov, anyone?)
“As a result,” the news site noted, “some adults may have needlessly been prescribed statins and endured severe side effects, while others may have suffered heart attacks or strokes after wrongly being told they were at low risk.”
The affected include middle-aged adults who were undergoing routine medical exams, as well as others who were being monitored for high blood pressure, diabetes or high cholesterol.
Doctors are being given the names of some 300,000 patients who are being contacted and then given appointments for follow-up testing – something that is sure to tax Britain’s collapsing NHS even further.
In truth, the real number of affected patients may actually soar, as the IT firm in charge of maintaining the NHS databases is trying to figure out exactly how many patients were given incorrect risk assessments, many of which then led to the prescribing of wrong medications.
The Daily Mail noted that many patients probably think that primary care physicians and providers decide whether or not to prescribe statins and other drugs on the basis of pure medical knowledge rather than being told to do so by computer. But the mistake in programming has exposed an over-reliance on technology by providers that can ultimately prove to be unreliable – even as officials say they plan to expand reliance on IT even more.
The Daily Mail reported further:
“The problem is the result of a bug in the SystmOne software used by 2,500 surgeries, nearly a third of those in England.
“GPs type in details including patients’ age, body mass index, whether they smoke and other health conditions and the system calculates a percentage score known as QRISK, stating their risk of having a heart attack in a decade.”
The error in technology was uncovered by medical trade industry magazine Pulse.
‘The system will crash’
Dr. Grant Ingrams, a general practitioner and senior member of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, said that recalling and reexamining patients would create “loads of work” for overstretched facilities and doctors. Dr. William Beeby, another member of the association, said that the mistake would cause new anxiety for patients who may lose further confidence in the system.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, the government body that oversees such IT systems, said, “An investigation has been launched into a digital calculator used by some GPs to assess the potential risk of cardiovascular disease in patients.
“We are working with the company responsible for the software to establish the problem and address any issues,” the agency noted further.
As to Britain’s collapsing NHS, once the pride of the country, that stark assessment came from Norman Lamb, minister of state at the Department of Health, in September. Lamb noted that without billions of pounds in new financing, the system will cave – and soon.
“If the investment is not made upfront and in the early period of this parliament, you could see serious failures in the system,” he said. “The system will crash. Elderly people won’t get the care they need, and it will be people with mental ill health who suffer most, because that is where the squeeze always comes.”