Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Typical short-sightedness

In the twenty years (gasp!) that have passed since I entered Nursing school, many things have changed. I am constantly amazed by the advances that have been made in surgical techniques, particularly laparoscopy. Surgeries which once required large incisions, long recovery times, and the risk of permanent nerve damage to the surrounding area are now performed through tiny keyholes with incredible precision.

If you'll forgive the pun, this cutting-edge technology has been brought to a new level by the DaVinci Robotic Surgical system. Developed in France, it was approved by the FDA for use in the United States in 2000. Applications include heart valve replacement, hysterectomies, and prostatectomies. Here in the USA, it is common to see billboards advertising a hospital's ability to perform surgeries with this new technology. The DaVinci system is expensive, but in a competitive health care marketplace, the bean counters know that they must spend the big bucks if they want to bring in the big bucks.

North of the 49th parallel .. meh, not so much. The DaVinci system is available in five Canadian cities, but none of the provincial Ministries of Health will cough up the extra $3000 to $5000 that a robotic prostatectomy costs, as compared to the traditional surgery to remove a cancerous prostate. It is left to charitable foundations to pick up the tab.

Never mind that the robotic surgery cuts the length of the hospital stay from four days to one. Never mind the reduced risk of post-operative infections in the age of C-Diff and MRSA outbreaks. Never mind the reduced risk of incontinence and impotence, both of which add to the cost of post-operative care. Never mind that any of these sequella could easily cost the Canadian health care system much more than $5000.

Talk about cutting off the nose to spite the face!

1 comment:

Patti said...

I hope that changes soon.