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article imageOp-Ed: ER horror stories- LA Times shows what should be being reported

By Paul Wallis     Oct 2, 2011 in Health
Sydney - An LA Times article epic in relation to the L.A. County/USC Medical Center is a journey through an institutionalized hell. It's also an excellent example of how badly media reporting is failing in health reportage.
About 4% of the patients leave the Center without being seen. Ironically, that 4% is actually a minor miracle. That’s a good performance in this day and age. Standards of health care may have collapsed and health services may have been on the trash pile for a generation, but someone’s still doing their job, at least. A system calibrated to do the workload of the 1980s is trying to do the job in 2011, on the basis of accepting as normal a workload overdose and what seems to be an excessive requirement for improvisation.
It’s not the proper role of internet or other media to regurgitate someone else’s news. The issue for global media here is the fact that this LA Times story simply highlights a stream of problems which are both under-acknowledged and systemically under-reported by mainstream media on a routine basis. The Times deserves credit for having the editorial chutzpah to get this thing out where it can be seen.
Why the low reportage? Health, like everything else, isn’t “fashionable” unless it’s connected with politics in some way. The cynical view is that health as a subject, like everything else, is inconvenient for politicians and their spin factories, and that’s quite enough for it to be relegated to the classifieds as news. The idealistic view…? There’s no idealistic view, just an endless groan from the public and some “government by spreadsheet” in terms of funding, which, ridiculously enough, gets more attention than the facts on the ground.
For a quick example of health reporting, see:
The New York Times Health section- Good for current topics, not so great for major sector issues.
Science Daily- Medical research news- Compare the research to the actual events in hospitals, if ever reported. It’s like Star Trek vs. the Dark Ages
Google News Health section- Aggregator yes, follower of demographic disasters, no.
Now- Check these pages for any reporting of actual conditions in terms of provision of so much as a band aid. There’s zip, on a percentile basis. Thousands of people in the US die of service provision related incidents, including infections, failure of services to provide care, emerging diseases, etc.
Let’s face it- Health is in the too hard basket, so it’s not news any more. A thousand years from now, historians will try to make sense of a global health situation which will look to them like 11th century hygiene and the Black Death do to us.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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