I don’t know what the typical physician thinks of the work I do, but there are times when I feel rather unimportant to our health care delivery system. I’m on the administrative side of this line of work. I don’t draw blood, I don’t auscultate the heart and lungs, I don’t perform any type of therapy and I can never respond to the cries of “Is there a doctor in the house?”, but I help physicians all I can to handle the “business’ side of healthcare.
When I try to justify the fact that when I was 6, I didn’t stare up into the sky and say “I want to be in medical coding and compliance”, I remember that at the root of this business is someone trying to help someone else and the scientific discipline of the function of the human body. So since this is an unscheduled stop in this space today (thanks to unscheduled absences last week), I’d like to take a look at health care news from around the globe as I listen to my specially-programmed music streaming service of ’80’s alternative music.
As Robyn Hitchcock cautions me about thinking I am in love, I see that Great Britain has identified only the 10th global case of coronavirus, a disease more familiar to 4-legged animal species. This particular patient spent time in the Middle East and Pakistan, which does something to solidify the belief in the medical community that the disease is transmitted to humans through bats and camels. The symptoms can parrot the respiratory indications for the flu, leading medical professionals to believe that many more cases could exist. Holding the skeptic’s heart deep within my rib cage, I have two takeaways from this, the first being that just as I suspected, getting a flu shot is at best a guess, and the second is that my belief that there is no good reason to go to the Middle East in the 21st Century now has medical science behind it.
As the Clash asks that age-old musical break-up question, the news keeps me in Great Britain, as the country deals with the sudden revelation that beef that has been imported for human consumption has turned out to be horse meat upon testing. Certain countries in Europe do consider horse meat as a delicacy, with England not being one of them. If that weren’t enough, some of the tested meat has revealed the presence of phenylbutazone, a painkiller that is strictly reserved for sporting horses. Authorities believe that the horses in question originated in Romania, a charge that that country denies.
Now, I am of the realization that the number of vegetarians in our country appears to be growing, if my friends are any indication. As long as you make that decision free of the misanthropic histrionics brought forth by PETA, I am not your enemy. Yet as a dedicated carnivore, even I find the idea of consuming the equine participants in a Carpathian steeplechase to be a new low. Britain has reached yet another crisis regarding the safety and sanctity of their food chain. The only blessing this time around is the fact that, unlike the past outbreak of Mad Cow Disease, there do not appear to be any broader health issues. If nothing else, it will make me take a second look at the next cheesesteak I consume when the opportunity arises.
Finally, as Joy Division tells me what will tear us apart, I read about the national birth rate of the United States reaching its lowest number ever, at 12.7 per 1,000 people. As a global fatalist, this is one time that I was actually proud of my country. Since the time of Thomas Malthus, we have known that human demand had the potential to far outstrip supply. Having thrown in the towel on the world’s powers wanting to do something about the situation that could be classified as a remedy, the only logical solution is to drop the birthrate. Of course, when it comes to educating people to stop procreating, we are dealing with hundreds of global belief systems that preach the exact opposite, but it is a bit of a relief to be (briefly) part of a country who appears to be getting the message, however slowly. As the world’s population rushes toward 7.1 billion, I wonder if it will make a difference.
So as the Stone Roses tell me that “She Bangs the Drums” (whoever “she” is), I remain but a small cog in the global health machine, but I continue to sit in wonder about the human body, the effect on it from outside stimuli and how long the planet will continue to tolerate the human presence, all of which is a long way philosophically from the CPT book that sits at my left hand.