The deadly consequences of rationing health care

Story from the Daily Mail. (H/T Secondhand Smoke via ECM)


Doctors left a premature baby to die because he was born two days too early, his devastated mother claimed yesterday. Sarah Capewell begged them to save her tiny son, who was born just 21 weeks and five days into her pregnancy – almost four months early. They ignored her pleas and allegedly told her they were following national guidelines that babies born before 22 weeks should not be given medical treatment. Miss Capewell, 23, said doctors refused to even see her son Jayden, who lived for almost two hours without any medical support. She said he was breathing unaided, had a strong heartbeat and was even moving his arms and legs, but medics refused to admit him to a special care baby unit.

If that is true, it is a profound abandonment. Moreover, it illustrates the consequences of treating individuals as mere category members for treatment decisions. For example, in the UK, an older person will be denied a hip replacement based on age, regardless of whether the surgery would benefit the patient and restore the ability to live a vital life.

I am terrified at running afoul of a system that encourages such barbarity. No wonder the NHS is having problems with abusive and rude personnel. You can’t legislate rationing that allows tragedies like this and keep your compassion intact.

17 thoughts on “The deadly consequences of rationing health care”

  1. According to the World Health Organisation, the British NHS is not too bad. We’re healthier than America, we spend less on healthcare than America, and we live longer than Americans. Can’t be that bad.


    1. You’re “healthier than America” because you have less deaths due to drugs and violence, not because you have better medical care.

      You spend less than America because you ration care, which was the point of this post that, apparently, flew clear over your head.

      Yes, on average, you live less than one year longer but your quality of life is far inferior in just about every measure and, again, it isn’t because of health care, but a lack of deaths due to violence and drugs.


  2. Your beloved Sarah is lying – in America they are compelled by law to save any infant that weighs 500 grams or more, anything less and it’s the doctors discretion. We can barely save infants that are born at 25 weeks and weigh 600 grams; at 21 weeks, you would be lucky if that embryo weight 300 grams.

    People have to stop watching science fiction and thinking it’s fact – while I know you think we could have used our transporter technology to beam sarah’s baby to heaven so they could perform miracles, but we don’t have that type of technology


    1. This isn’t about America, this is about the NHS and what happens under a fully-socialized health care apparatus–can you even read??

      (Furthermore, you’re saying that, instead of attempting to save the baby, it should be left to die? You do realize that, as technology has improved, we’ve been able to save them at earlier and earlier ages, yes? And that, as of now, there are, in fact, people walking around, leading full lives, that were born at 21 weeks, right? Furthermore, you flat-out lie in stating that we can “barely save at 25 weeks” when, in actuality, the survival rate is at least 50/50 at 24 weeks and improving every year–look it up, it’s called “limit of viability.”)


  3. If you knew anything about healthcare you would know that america leads the world, so our rules and standards of care are replicated through out the world, even the one I mentioned above.

    And yes, I think at 21 weeks there should have been NOTHING done to rescue the baby. You have obviously never been in a NICU and seen these babies – our technologies are no where advanced enough to save these babies. Even the 26 weekers, anyone who’s even remotely familiar with medicine can spot those people who were premature even 20, 40, 60 years later because our technologies cannot finish what the womb started, at best, we can keep the heart and lungs working, and just barely at that.

    So before you get all uppity about medicine, you should try and pick up a book on medicine and see just what our limitations are – I would start with Gray’s.

    ECM – you lie – I just checked baylor’s, texas children’s, rainbow and babies, and CHOP – at 24 weeks we have at best 20 – 30% survival – you need to stop googling and looking at peer reviewed literature before attempting to spread your lies.


      1. but you’re using it to draw parallels with what you believe is going to happen in america – “rationed health care” while the true issue is a medical one. We CANNOT save a 21 weeker – we have a hard time saving those born several weeks later (though as ECM points out, we’re getting better). This is NOT an issue of rationed health care – it’s an issue of do you believe in star trek or do you live in reality. This poor lady’s baby died because we do not have the technology to save him/her…one could easily make the claim that your headline is a lie – rationed care or not, that baby was going to die.


  4. I forgot to mention to that for everyday that you keep a kid in NICU – $6,000 a day and this baby would have to stay there at least until they reach 35 weeks (assuming everything else is good) – so that’s a minimum of $378,000 plus tests and all of the consulting services. Now once they get out of NICU they still need constant medical attention – at best estimates – over $1million additional over the life of this kid…all moral questions aside, how do we pay for all of these services without raising taxes or cutting in other areas (though I do know we have multitudes of government programs that should be cut).

    That’s the problem with all the right-wingers – you want an idealistic world but you don’t want to have to foot the bill.


      1. disclaimer: I haven’t read the book.

        I have doubts that it deals with issues like these – consumer driven or not, how do you pay for over $1 million for a single person excluding old age problems (heart attack, stroke, etc)? This person is born leaching the system terribly and will have constant medical conditions (asthma, CP, etc) that will continue to tax the system. You have many posts talking about how we will have to raise the taxes because of Obamacare, but what about the current problems that are plaguing the system. At our current rate, we will bankrupt healthcare as the baby boomers start siphoning off our healthcare dollars


      1. No – my argument has been let them die because our technology can’t save them, they will have ZERO quality of life, and your god obviously wanted them to die, why else would he have done this…so why waste the tax dollars on something impossible?


        1. My god? I’m not a theist, Jerry, but nice ad hom there chief. (And based on your scintillating logic, any time someone gets hit by a car, shot, overdoses, flat lines, etc., we should let them die since that’s what god wanted, right? We definitely shouldn’t intervene, right?)

          The fact is, we’ll never know if the baby could have been saved–they didn’t try! Instead, they let it die even though the mother pleaded with them to try and the fact is that children do survive at 21 weeks, period. This is immutable. All your contortions, subject-changes, etc. can’t change this fact of life which is why you are a ghoul, Jerry, because to the likes of you, life is not an end in and of itself but, rather, an entry on an Excel spreadsheet, be it a balance sheet or an actuarial table.

          And based on your warped and twisted logic we shouldn’t bother attempting to resuscitate ‘dead’ people past the 5 minute mark because, hey, it’s only going to impact their quality of life because they might have brain damage or to rehab them might, inevitably, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars so, hey, to hell with ’em–God wanted them to die anyway!


          1. You can’t close this thread down now – it’s getting good!!

            I have access to the peer reviewed medical databases offered by Rainbow and Babies and Cleveland Clinic and doing a cursory search I could not find one result for a true 21-weeker surviving. Not one. The closest I could find was one that was 1 day away from 22 weeks and that baby was born breathing – the biggest obstacle to surviving – if this baby was not breathing and was at a normal stage of 21 week lung development (i.e. – non-developed – lungs don’t get ready for air until at least 25 weeks), we can’t do anything…NOTHING.

            Do you want to know why? The lungs are developed enough (as I previously alluded to above) – at that age the only way to get sufficient oxygen into the bloodstream is through the umbilical cord. On top of that, have you ever tried to get in IV into a baby that tiny? It’s practially impossible. Dose .1 ml too much and you’ve overloaded the fluids and have to start other therapies.

            The doctors didn’t save the kid because it’s a medical fact – they couldn’t. There is zero percent chance.

            I know you think I’m a ghoul for talking about the practical things, but ignoring isn’t going to help either. At rainbow right now they’re yelling at doctors for not having enough MRU’s or for performing too few surguries (they just let a urologist go for that) because they’re under tremendous budgetary constraints. Like it or not, doctors, nurses, and hospitals have to get paid, and our private insurance isn’t cutting it, government funding isn’t there – where do you propose we get the money?


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