Does Being Famous Get You Worse Medical Care?January 8, 2013
Former president George H.W. Bush’s hospital stay has been extended for more than a month because he had a cough or needed to “build energy.” What’s the real story?
It isn’t always better to be famous. Doctors would almost never put an average patient in the hospital for a cough. Hospitals are not only ridiculously expensive and uncomfortable places; they are also exceedingly dangerous places. But if you are famous, the doctors can’t do enough for you, and in a world where medical treatment is the number one cause of death, that can lead to an earlier—not a later—death.
This isn’t anything new. George Washington died because one doctor after another wanted to have a hand in treating what seems to have been a common viral infection. Each of them decided to “bleed” him, which was established practice in the day. After so many bleedings, he seems to have died of blood loss. Doctors aren’t quite this crude today, but they have many more dangerous tools at their disposal and many more ways in which to be over-aggressive in their treatment.
President Bush has been in a hospital in Houston since November 23 for what was described as mild bronchitis. Since then he has had a “series of setbacks” according to a Bush spokesperson, Jim McGrath, with “a stubborn fever that won’t go away.” Currently he is in a “guarded condition” on a liquids-only diet.
The “stubborn fever” is a very likely indication that he developed an infection in the hospital—a not-uncommon occurrence. The CDC estimates that 1.7 million people contract hospital infections each year—with 100,000 of them dying—at a cost of $45 billion a year. The CDC’s estimate is a huge underrepresentation, because (as we reported in 2009) fully eighteen percent of Americans say they or a loved one have acquired a dangerous infection following a medical procedure. That’s more than 56 million people.
Outside of the CDC’s estimate, there are very few statistics (and very little transparency) regarding hospital care. There is no nationally mandated reporting; in fact, the reporting is often left to the discretion of the hospitals themselves.
Poisoning, primarily from FDA-approved drugs, kills more people than car accidents—and this is data does come from the hospitals!
How can Mr. Bush possibly “build up energy” in a mainstream hospital setting? Hospital food, overseen by Registered Dietitians, often consists of poor quality, highly processed foods that are high in sodium. Perhaps that’s why his doctors have him on a liquids-only diet, but the truth is that a synthetic liquid diet is sure to leave out key nutrients. We just don’t know enough to make a really nourishing artificial food.
And what about rest? How can anyone get any rest in a hospital with all the noise and bright lights and constant comings and goings? Melatonin is one of our immune system’s key components, but who can circulate any melatonin with the lights on all the time?
Want to get rid of a stubborn infection? Try some natural approaches instead: colloidal silver, the world’s oldest antibiotic; garlic, intravenous vitamin C, the herbs Cat’s Claw and Artemisia, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy all fight bacterial infections. Vitamin D has strong antiviral properties, and is critical to all our immune functions.
We wish President Bush the best but cannot be optimistic so long as he receives the “best” care a hospital can offer—which is actually some of the “worst” care on the planet.