Welcome dear readers, to the inaugural blog post. What a momentous occasion. Every occasion, no matter how mundane, I mean momentous, needs a purpose, and here I will attempt to outline the purpose of this blog, of which there are three. The first two are selfish in nature, the last a little more altruistic.
Reason the first: To preserve my sanity while I slough through my medical education. Don't get me wrong, I love medical school, I think it is a tremendous privilege and opportunity, and I am thankful that I am lucky enough to be where I am in life. Still, we all need outlets. Mine are numerous and diverse, and writing happens to be one of them.
Reason the second: To educate myself. While scouring the internet, articles, and sundry other reading material for inspiration and information to discuss, it is my hope that I will learn a thing of two and become a more enlightened person. The end goal is to be more interesting at cocktail parties.
Reason the third: Most people would agree that there are problems with the American medical system. This may or may not be directly linked to problems with the health of the American people in general. Here are some numbers to chew on. Get yourself some water first; they don't go down easily.
45 million Americans are uninsured.
27.5% of the US population is obese. This is close to triple the percentage in 1990 (11.6%).
8.7% of the US population has diabetes.
There are over 1 million people in the US infected with HIV, and up to 20% are unaware of their infection.
Despite this, visits to the doctor fell by 4.7% in 2011. Emergency room visits rose by 7.4%, however.
The US is ranked 37th in the world in healthcare. In 2006 we were ranked 1st in per capita spending on health care, but 39th in infant mortality, 43 in adult female mortality, 42 in adult male mortality, and 36th for life expectancy.
My humble opinion is that we will soon be in a state of crisis, if we aren't there already. Perhaps that is a bit gloomy, but at any rate we clearly have to brainstorm some solutions. To find an answer however, we first must needs ask the right questions.
The question I want to ask is, "how did we get here, and what is the current state of the American medical machine, from the innermost gears and cogs of the hospital system to the familiar warmth (or cold) of the patient's home?"
A complicated question, to be sure, but we are going to attempt to dissect out the answer, piece by piece, and layer by layer. It is intended that this will be the bulk of the blog, but it will be supplemented with lighter stories, writings, and other errant posts, as my scattered brain sees fit.
NEJM - World health rankings
NY Times - Americans cutting back on doctors visits
Americas health rankings