Ongoing Effects of Obamacare changes on Healthcare System

side effects obamacare A widely spread publication for physicians/medical personnel in the US, American Medical News dated March 25 2013,  featured an article by Kevin B. O’Reilly, titled ‘Warning sounded on demoralized work force,” which in my opinion clearly demonstrates a picture into the internal state of healthcare at this time. This saddens me greatly as this was my field for 3-4 decades but this is what I’ve  been observing for at least 5-10 years and its becoming more and more widespread.

The article, written by Kevin B. O’Reilly, states that “the experience of working in American health care is being drained of joy and meaning amid a rising rate of occupational injuries, episodes of verbal abuse and physical assaults from colleagues, and a seemingly relentless drive to provide more care in less time.” “This toxic blend is setting back the effort to improve the quality of care and prevent patient harm according to  a recently published report by some of the most distinguished names in the field of patient safety.”

Mr. O’Reilly quotes the National Patient Safety Foundation’s Lucian Leape Institute’s report that states “Production and cost pressures have reduced complex, intimate, caregiving relationships into a series of demanding tasks performed under severe time constraints.” The report also states that the injury rate in health care is 5.6 per 100 full-time employees; 33% higher than the rate for all of private industry.”

A respondent survey by American College of Physician Executives and Quantia MD, dated May 2011, summarized the physician’s input as”the leading cause of disruptive behavior is a heavy workload. ” Mr O’Reilly went on to state that this is one of several recent examples illustrating how severe time constraints in health care are harming collegiality, quality and safety.”

My last decade in healthcare clearly demonstrated similar parallels to the aforementioned study findings. The workload, in my opinion, has increased severely and secondary to increased regulations, computers with electronic health records and consequent paperwork. Instead of focusing on patient care as we were taught, it’s now about making sure all information is imputed on your patients asap, so that others have instant access.

Mr O’Reilly, quoted Alan H Rosenstein MD (leading researcher on disruptive behavior and medical director of Physician Wellness Services, a firm that provides employee-assistance programs to Mayo Clinic and other health systems)  “Over the years, physicians and nurses have worked harder and harder and nobody thought much about it, because they were able to do it without breaking. Now they’re starting to break.”

In addition to the increased workloads, salaries have decreased; taking away any incentives to work harder and earn more.  What will be effect of Obamacare, that officially takes effect 2014, when the 30 million plus individuals are dumped onto the current health care system? It really doesn’t take too much of one’s imagination to figure out this scenario. The rate of graduating health care professionals has not increased to the point where it will be able to cover the increased burdens.

I am not a doomsday thinker, but this equation does not balance and the effects will not be good. Why didn’t our elected officials discuss the facts with the people before shoving this down their throats? The medical people in the trenches are the ones who know the most about healthcare, not the pencil/pushers or researchers.  The medical industry is so busy and consumed with trying to survive and take care of their patients, that they have no personal time as an adhesive group to oppose these changes. The  people the legislative changes affect, not surprisingly possess no overall picture, therefore, ignorance is bliss. I hold our elected officials accountable for not being truthful with the people–truly not what I’d call leadership. The irony of the big picture is that all people; healthcare providers, the main public, as well as elected officials, now have to live with a changed healthcare system, which now has more problems than before and will affect us ALL in one way or another.




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