Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cancer, when guessing just won't do.

Imagine you're in work, you get a phone call telling you your house is on fire. You phone the fire brigade and they go a douse the fire. They call you back and tell you they have saved your home, that everything you owned was safe. Then you get home that day and find your home has been burned to the ground. Your home is destroyed. Everything gone. You ring the fire brigade and ask them what the hell? They shrug and say 'well we thought it was out, it looked out'.
Wouldn't you be angry? Wouldn't you have questions?
But in the back of your mind you know possessions can be replaced. You're angry and upset, but it's not like your family was in the fire. Was it?
I've written before about the shocking state of our health system. We're supposed to be a wealthy country, we've had ten years of unbelievable wealth and progress, but our health care system is crumbling about our ears and it appears nothing and no one knows how to shore it up.
It was with growing disbelief that I listened to Karl Henry talk on Newstalk this morning about how Ann Moriarty, his beloved wife and mother to his child, was twice misdiagnosed and subsequently died from a particularly aggressive form of cancer that had spread through her body. Ann was twice given the all clear and had two x-rays misread in two separate hospitals. The poor woman was sick and dying and indeed died in April, a number of months after she had been sent home from hospital with a prescription for an upset stomach.
It beggars belief that in this day and age such unprofessional and frankly disgraceful practices are allowed to exist. Having lost loved ones to cancer, it upsets me to think how that woman must have suffered. It upsets me to think how her son and husband must be feeling, how let down and devastated they must be. To be given another chance and a hope that your family might pull through a terrible illness like cancer only to have that hope ripped to shreds by incompetent medical professionals. To put your faith in the hands of others only to see them blunder about with what is most precious to you.
I don't know Karl Henry remained so measured today. It's probably a lot more than I would have managed. He and his family have my deepest sympathies.
But this effects us all. This kind of stupid, incompetent, blasé mishandling of people at their most vulnerable, when LITERALLY it is a matter of life and death, must surely shake all of us to the core. That could have been me, that could have been you, that could have been your son, your daughter, your husband, your mother.
It's not fucking good enough.

I'll let you read it here

Too depressing for words.



Anonymous The Bad Ambassador said...

I couldn't agree more FMC.

There are some times when a best guess effort is sufficient - "It doesn't look like rain, I'll hang the washing out".

And there are some things you should be so sure about you are willing to stake your life on them (as opposed to the life of somebody else).

Cancer is serious. Nobody will ever call in sick to work claiming "I won't make it in today because I've come down with a touch of cancer. I expect I'll be alright tomorrow though".

"We don't think you've got cancer" just isn't good enough.

9:28 a.m.  
Blogger JL Pagano said...

It's cases like this that make me what to chuck "due process" out the window and go reaching for my pitchfork.

At the VERY LEAST, there should be an immediate announcement that every senior doctor involved with this patient should be suspended from practice until a full investigation has been carried out.

Yet this is precisely why out Health Service is so ineffective when it comes to actually treating patients...imagine all the man-hours being put in by HSE administrators right now trying to put a lid on of this.

It most certainly is NOT fucking good enough.

9:29 a.m.  
Blogger Twenty Major said...

Heard some fella on the radio this morning (didn't catch who it was) saying there was no need to call in other women as there was no evidence that any other women had been misdiagnosed.

I suppose we just have to wait for them to die before we know they're sick.

9:31 a.m.  
Blogger fatmammycat said...

WE're all getting older, at some stage any oen of us might need to put out lives into the hands of others, and the idea that is is this hit and miss scares the shit out of me. And you're bang on JL, heads need to roll on this one. Maybe if more people were ACTUALLY held accountable for their action or inactions people might just sit up and take more fucking notice as they do their jobs.

9:44 a.m.  
Blogger jothemama said...

The worst thing is how she must have known it wasn't right, and her family must have known and NO-ONE WOULD LISTEN.

Why do doctors have such issues with listening to their patients?

There's just too many 'oh no you couldn't possibly be...' and 'I'm th doctor here' stories. It's rife.

9:45 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We live in a mad country. I know people are giving out now but the in a couple of weeks nobody will bat an eyelid. It will be just old news that people will glance over, tut about how bad it but ultimately do nothing.

What annoys me is how nobody is held accountable or reprimanded for his or her misconduct. And how people give out and give out but just sit ion their fat arses doing nothing.

The last major protest in Dublin saw journalist predict a turn out of thousands to support people suffering at the hands of the HSE. In reality only about 5-10% of the numbers predicted turned out and to add insult to injury the speakers at the rally spoke only to favour better in the public eye. Masquerading their own political agenda in genuine concern for our health service. The most valuable voice came from Susie Long’s brave husband.

Then you have the issue of St Luke’s hospital dispute all the talk and controversy in papers and on blogs a mere 200 people turned out. What happened to all the people agreeing?

Then you have the case were that lady, Beverly Seville-Doyle died having waited 19 hours in A&E in the Mater hospital. The women had chest pains and she was left on a chair. The family couldn’t be there in her last moments because of a parking issue. That family are still waiting on the results of the enquire, a 39 year old women with three children and her family don’t even know why she died. You may bet nobody will lose his or her jobs though.

Now you have the HSE roll out free Smear Tests for all women aged 25-60, which is good (please see link below to register) but on the other hand the mad fuckers instruct hospitals and doctors not to carry out mammograms unless they really suspect a lady has breast cancer.

MRSA and C-diff are rampant in hospitals all because of poor hygiene. Those infection are contributing to and killing people.

Rather than comments on blogs invests your time writing to the opposition parties and send a copy to FF. And when there is a march on get off your arses and go. Talking relentlessly about it will do fuck all.


10:45 a.m.  
Anonymous Shebah said...

A quote in the article "was misread as normal by a locum consultant radiologist." Locum - so nobody was responsible as they could blame it on the temp. Care seemed to be on such a piecemeal basis with no one consultant in overall charge. I also think health services are now overwhelmed, and with nobody in charge people slip through the cracks unless they are very vocal. There is just no excuse for lost xrays, scans and notes. Shameful. My recent family experience was quite different, with a dedicated and extremely efficient and caring oncologist - so I think there is some luck involved in the choice of hospital - not that luck comes into it really, as the ultimate outcome of pernicious cancer is the same regardless - but people have a human need to think their doctors care and that their life matters. Deeply sad for her and her family. So much for the Hippocratic Oath.

10:52 a.m.  
Blogger JL Pagano said...

Nonny makes a good point in a way, though I would have thought marching is only marginally more effective than commenting on blogs...VOTE THE FUCKERS OUT OF OFFICE!!!!

Next time I see a FF candidate courting my vote I'm going to ask them one question and one question only...

"Why doesn't Fianna Fail think they're good enough to run our Health Service?"

11:34 a.m.  
Anonymous cath said...

Cancer care in this country is a shambles and, as Shebah points out, the standard of care seems to be highly dependent on which hospital a patient ends up in. My uncle was misdiagnosed in one hospital just a shade over seven years ago now. Cue six months of agonising pain before he finally got a second opinion in a second hospital the week before Christmas 2001, when the cancer was found. He died nine weeks to the day afterwards.

11:41 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Petition the opposition, keep sending them letters, it gives them leverage to keep the issue in the Dail. And protests will re-enforce it and it keeps heath issues dominating the media. It is the most effective way to start the ball of change rolling. Look at Poll Tax in England during the 80’s. Do you honestly think if people hadn’t protested and petitioned the government anything would have changed? The uproar during these times is cited as being fundamental to Margaret Thatcher's demise and ultimately the end of Community Charge. It works and people should stop making excuses and harping on about how bad the HSE is. Do something about it. WRITE TO THE OPPOSITIONA AND GET OUT AND PROTEST WHEN ONE IS STAGED. History dictates, when people stand together justice will prevail.


11:55 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has fuck all to do with the politicians.
It's the elephant in the room that no one in the media or anywhere else will mention, the actual people who make up the medical service.
Any of you unfortubnate enough to have had appointments to see consultants etc will know that they operate on a different planet than the rest of us, hospitals are very inefficient places, the government have chucked MILLIONS into it, a black hole for public funds.
Who ever fucked up on those XRays, it wasn't Brian Cowen or even Mary Harney, it was somone not doing their job.
They are well paid and have good working conditions, it's about time we put THEM under the microscope.

11:55 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This has fuck all to do with the politicians."

Jesus - it has everything to do with it. FF and Harney are sitting back and being dictated to by the HSE. I mean when Harney wanted to recruit more Consultants. The Consultants themselves did a song and a dance until Harney met with them and agreed to pay them more for the “inconvenience” of getting more doctors to provide a better service. The government wanted more doctors and they had to ok with their staff first. That is absolutely ridiculous. If Harney had have wanted to press ahead without meeting them she could have, if she wanted to dissolve the HSE she could. Instead she sits on her fat arse doing nothing. And the public sit around shaking their heads and scratching their arses. The Poll Tax issue was an example of how people standing together and protesting about an issue in earnest can bring about change. It is the only way things will change here but you can just press on making excuses. Sure most of the country and indeed most people reading this blog will continue to sit on their arse and do nothing.


12:16 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In your answer you have basically agreed with the main body of my opinion, that it is the medical staff themselves that re who we should be looking at, and this includes, Doctors, consultants, Nurses, orderlies, Ambulance Drivers etc.

Everytime the HSE try to change anything, whether it's bringing in extra consultants or whatever, as you rightly say, they kick up a song and dance. Ditto with Nurses.
The HSE or the government cannot railroad things in without consulting the unions, nor can any other employer in a unionised workforce, so be realistic Nonny.

You cannot beat them into providing a better health service. A lot of the changes will have to come from WITHIN the health service, it's not a shortage of money that has created this sub standard service.

12:46 p.m.  
Anonymous The Bad Ambassador said...

I completely agree with Nonny - this has everything to do with politicians. FF and Harney especially.

Harney and Drumm may not be the ones reading the X-Rays but they are the bodies at the top of the organisation. They are the ones responsible for putting practices in place to ensure the best possible health care is provided by the Irish Health Service.

Instead, through a lack of courage or political will, they have commissioned numerous reports but taken very little action. And they try to tell us this is progress.

Seems to me Harney would rather lose a few lives than lose a few votes.

12:55 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never once mentioned money so your argument about funding is lost on me. I agree that funding is not an issue. I also agree the doctors and nurses pose an enormous problem. It is down to bad management, bad management that starts with the government. Don’t be naïve if you honestly believe that Unions are stopping the government improving the Health Care system you are mistaken. If the government want to make changes or dissolve the HSE, they could. They run the country. Until the HSE goes nothing will change. The reason Harney is not doing anything is simple because she is happy to let the HSE take the blame for Health systems problems. Health care is the responsibility of the government, if they have bad doctors or nurses or consultants, or managers or cleaners or machinery it is up to them to fix it. That is the bottom line. Everybody pointing their finger at different people and trying to pass the book won’t alleviate the situation. It simply prolongs the suffering of the sick. If people demonstrate their distress at the government’s blatant disregard for public health they will eventually give in to pressure.


1:04 p.m.  
Anonymous The Bad Ambassador said...

You tell him/her Nonny!

Go Nonny!
Go Nonny!
Go Nonny!


1:08 p.m.  
Blogger JL Pagano said...

Far be it from me to be fair to Mary Harney, but I very much doubt the Unions would simply roll over and accept anything a Minister for Health and Children would propose, especially not in this country!!!

They're all culpable in their own way for this mess if you ask me!!!

1:25 p.m.  
Blogger Medbh said...

Doctors have a god complex. I honestly can't think of anyone who has been sick in any range of illness from brain tumor to chest pains that I can say firmly "they received excellent care." The best you can say is that the doctors didn't exacerbate the condition with a bad diagnosis or treatment. ( I refer to doctors in the U.S. and Canada).

1:29 p.m.  
Blogger gimme a minute said...

Nonny in being right shocker.

2:13 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nonny, Bad Ambassador.

Someone fucked up reading those X-Rays.
A fuck up that resulted in a needless death.

The truth of what has happened has still to come out, if it does come out, as we all know how the medical people circle the wagons at the first sniff of trouble.

I have experienced at first hand, the condescending attitude of Consultants and Doctors, the indifference of nurses and the slip shod work of the contract cleaners.
I have also experienced good care and courtesy and high standards, lest anyone think I am tarring all with the same brush.

The Government has it's hands tied, to a large extent by the unions. Measures that could be taken to improve things cannot be made overnight as staff has to be consulted and negociated with.

To question the work of Doctors and Nurses in the media is taboo. We are always fed the Florence Nightingale image.

We are all responsible for our own jobs and how we carry out our duties, a matter of pride, care for the customer etc.
Does Brian Cowen and Mama Harney really have to stand over the shoulder of each employee, yes they are the people at the top of the pyramid but let's get real, our hospitals are full of dead wood and tossers who have well passed their sell by date and I'm not talking about the patients.

2:22 p.m.  
Anonymous The Bad Ambassador said...

Mary? Mrs Harney? Is that you?

Maybe you are right - maybe our hospitals and health system are full of dead wood. (Although I doubt you will find much, if any, of it among front line staff)

However, say for example a nurse/doctor/surgeon/radiographer is not performing their job to the required standards. It is the responsibility of their manager to see that the situation is remedied.

Now, if their manager is unable to remedy the situation (or even if they are unaware of it), they too are under-performing. Of course, this is the responsibility of the next person up the chain of command.

Now if.... [you get the idea, the problem is escalated up the HSE's chain of command until you get to].... Brendan Drumm and then Mary Harney.


There are very clear laws and guidelines governing disciplinary procedures in the workplace. They outline the process to be followed with poorly performing staff - including, as a last resort, dismissal.

These guidelines and practices apply to people working in organisations all over the country. Tell me why they shouldn't apply to the HSE?

2:40 p.m.  
Anonymous problemchildbride said...

What a terrible story. The suffering and frustration of that family must have been hell on them all. Has anybody even apologized to them for these monumental cock-ups?

I think that, while individual doctors and technicians are certainly responsible for their mistakes, the culture of slackness, sloppiness adn disinterest within the HSE proceeds from a lack of effective government oversight. If nobody is made accountable for the services they provide, the rot will creep in and the shabby treatment poor Ann Moriarty received will become more common. If the government, its primary funding source, is not insisting on excellence within the HSE, what other body has the clout to do so?

This is most certainly a government issue, and you're right, fmc, it's NOT fucking good enough

3:15 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are right BA and Sam, there is a chain of command and incompetence should be addressed at each level but ultimately the responsibility lies with management, the Government. There are a lot of commenters and readers here who feel strongly about the state of out Health Care system write to the addresses listed below, preferably the opposition, they are on a crusade to antagonise the government anyway we might as well give them a good cause. It will keep the issues and pressure in the Dail, eventually something may well be done and victory over health care may rest precisely were it belongs, in the arms of those unfortunate enough to need it.

Sinn Féin
44 Parnell Square
Dublin 1

Fianna Fail
65-66 Lower Mount St
Dublin 2

17 Ely Place,
Dublin 2,

Fine Gael
51 Upper Mount Street
Dublin 2

Progressive Democrats
25 South Frederick Street
Dublin 2

There is another apparently significant party emm, they are a colour, ermmm Yellowbellies I think. I think that girl Johnny Gormless is an affiliate. I’m not sure ahh never mind. There are lots of other Independents too. Go on people write to them!


4:08 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I take it that you are a disgruntled green? You're not Patricia McKenna by any chance (heaven save us).
A contrary aul wagon, who just's like to contradict

4:45 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don’t have any issues with the greenies, I just hate Gormless.

And although I have the utmost respect for some of Mrs McKenna stances, I am not her. Her assertions and objections led to the formation of the Referendun Commission so clearly there is a lot to be said for being
"A contrary aul wagon, who just's like to contradict".

Get writing people! I am off, have a pleasant evening folks.


5:00 p.m.  
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