It is a common statement that millions of people in the U.S. have no access to health care. The media usually transposes “care” for “insurance.” Access to insurance is not access to care.
Those of us practicing on the front lines are well aware of massive regulations and insurance company doublespeak interfering with care and tripping us up at every step.
Two weeks ago I had an patient pass away in the nursing home. He had fluid in his lungs and trouble breathing. We knew he had come to the end of a long illness. Perhaps unknown or perhaps known, to some readers, is the fact that we use morphine in these situations. Morphine is an inexpensive and safe medicine that eases breathing and prevents one from struggling for air. The patient had his family by his side and passed easily.
Later, I received paperwork that Cigna Medicare RX would not pay for the morphine.
Now, morphine costs very little. I was told to stop what I was doing, stop earning a living, interrupt talking to patients that I care for; fill out a form that said “have you tried any alternatives?”
Just fax it Doc. Just call. Just send. Just do it. Just fill it out. Don’t do your work, don’t see patients from which you get your livelihood to feed your own family. Just fax, call, send, stamp, fill it out. Just do it, because the form said the morphine was not on the formulary “Patient is stable on current regimen, medication change will result in adverse outcome.”
So, would dying while gasping for air be an adverse outcome?
What have we come to in this country? Doctors are buried under administrative trivia like this!
I talk to patients as they come through. Please, I say, call your legislator about healthcare. And no one does.
What will be next? How much worse can it get? I have called and written my legislators. Have you?
Jean Antonucci, MD