Tel-A-Vision for the 21st Century!

In memoriam

Tragically Preventable deaths due to
Toxic Health Care Syndrome

On September 11th, 2001, the loss of 3,000 American lives was seen as a tragedy of such magnitude that we went to war to be sure it didn’t happen again. However, every year Americans quietly accept a death toll from a broken health care system that is 73 times greater than the 9-11 disaster.

In the eight and half years since 9-11, almost 2 million Americans have died from toxic healthcare system syndrome -- a scientifically preventable condition marked by medical errors, hospital-acquired infections, under-treatment,  over-treatment,  mis-treatment, ineffective treatment and no treatment at all for 47 million uninsured Americans. This deadly combination consists of lack of access to care and overuse of expensive tests, drugs and surgery, depending on whether or not you have health insurance and whether the facility is paid per procedure – billable units -- for providing care. Even being insured does not assure that you will receive the life-saving care you need. The unlucky people are those with ‘pre-existing’ conditions or diagnosed with an expensive disease (or terminal illness) who get stricken from the roles of their insurance company and people living in rural areas and inner-cities without access to adequate medical services.

Fatalities in such big numbers make it easy to forget that we die one by one by one. Each death leaves behind grieving parents without a beloved child, a husband without his lifetime partner, a wife who is now a widow, children without a parent, sibling without a sister or brother. No matter why a person dies, each loss is a personal tragedy.  But preventable death that is the result of a health care system that puts profits or professional prestigious ahead of the welfare of  patients is a betrayed trust that makes  the loss so much harder to bear and leaves bitterness in its wake. 

This website is dedicated to1,870,000 men, women and children who died before their time and in memory of Baby Boy Lance Anderson and a long time friend, Donna Driscoll -- all silent victims of a health care system that is neither healthy nor caring.

Baby Boy Lance Anderson,
died at 9 months

As a young emergency room nurse, I provided care to a 9-month baby brought to the ER by its worried parents. Even to my inexperienced eyes, the child looked and acted very sick. As the youngest in a family of 6, I took the parents concern seriously and paged their pediatrician who was in the hospital making rounds. When Dr. B came down to the ER he picked up the baby’s chart and went to a different room to call his office and find out if they’d paid a previous bill. Then he went to the doorway of the exam room and told the parents he couldn’t be see their child, adding at the end “And I think you know why”. 

The ER doc hired by the hospital was a recent graduate who had little experience with infants. In addition, he was decidedly annoyed by the idea of these ‘deadbeat’ parents. After a few unsympathetic questions and a brief physical exam of the baby, he told the parents their son wasn’t seriously ill. Then he wrote a prescription for antibiotics and told the parent to get it filled before they left the hospital. He also reminded them to stop at the cashier to pay for the emergency room visit. 

An obviously tired and dejected-looking mother picked up her pale and limp child. With his head resting listlessly on her shoulder and his arms clinging around her neck, I watched the parents as they dutifully walked down the corridor that lead to the hospital pharmacy and cashier’s office. Dr.T, our ER doc, also watched to be sure they didn’t 'stiff' the hospital. It was a walk of shame for the parents -- but the shame was really on us.

The next morning our county coroner, Dr Greenblatt, came to the ER wanting to know “about that Lance Anderson kid”. I asked why, he said, “Because he’s dead!” After paying the ER bill, the parents didn’t have enough money to get his prescription filled. When they woke up early that morning, they found their youngest child dead in his crib.

Had these parents refused to seek medical treatment, they would have been accused of medical neglect. The other children would have been taken into protective custody and the parents prosecuted for negligent manslaughter. But in our ever-so-legal system, neither one of the doctors who refused to provide effective care to this child were held responsible for anything -- it was business as usual, which means if you or your parents can't pay, you don't get care and if you die needlessly, no one is accountable. 

What makes this story ever so much sadder is that Baby Boy Lance Anderson died in 1967. It's 42 years later, and yet things are no better. This scene is being repeated day and night in ERs all across America with the same deadly conclusion.

Donna Driscoll, LM, CPM
July 11, 1950 - November 29, 2008

Another one of those preventable fatalities was a highly-trained healthcare professional who practiced midwifery flawlessly for 30 years. However, the respect of her patients and colleagues could do nothing to help her when she was repeatedly turned down for health insurance because of a treatable but potentially expensive medical condition. Without access to the necessary medical care until it was too late, she died tragically and unnecessarily, one more statistic in the collateral damage of a health care system that is neither healthy nor caring.


        Donna with a baby she delivered    Donna & family on vacation

Contact me @ bonniefaithgibson@gmailcom to add stories to this page

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