Back Then…: Hit by a car. Treatment the old fashioned way.

One of the advantages of being psychokinetic is that one can penetrate time and distance with ease, a needed skill for a reporter of universal happenings. With a few jiggers of 82-proof Irish fuel (single malt), I can perform astounding feats of travel.Consider this: Since thought travels faster than the speed of light, I can virtually teleport myself to any event and get there before it happened.

Recently I tanked up to investigate an old accident that happened on a busy street in a big city 82 years ago. The idea was to get a comparison between medical treatment then and now. The accident occurred when medical care was much more basic, long before the health establishment became bloated from the increasing demands of our national hypochondria.

I entered my portal and ZIP, I was instantly watching the heavy traffic of old Chevvies and Fords. There were flivvers and jalopies but no Toyotas. A bus stopped to discharge a passenger. On the corner, a child in shorts recognized the passenger as its mother and made an impulsive dash across the street to go to her.

Suddenly, squeeling rubber and screaming brakes announced the accident just before the car hit the child. I could feel the abrasiveness of the hot asphalt taking off skin in large patches as the small body skidded into a ragdoll heap of pain. A Keds sneaker was found 30 feet away.

The surprised driver couldn't help it; the kid had run directly into the path of his car. There was no telephone available, no police or ambulance, so they bundled the boy and his shocked mother into the back seat of the car and drove to City Hospital, where he was treated without excessive formalities.

The father was called, and by the time he got there the patient had been examined, his wounds dressed. He had not much money, and no insurance, so there were no X-Rays, no injections or prescriptions. The boy was pronounced otherwise fit…no broken bones or internal injuries. The system would have been inadequate if the injuries had been severe.

How do I know all this? I was the victim.

After crying for a long time, I wanted to be alone to sleep but my father declined overnight observation. He paid the hospital a few dollars in cash on the way out. The distraught driver and his wife came home with us for coffee. No question of fault or compensation was raised. I doubt my father even took down their names. Eventually the whole thing passed as a minor event. Life was simpler back then.

Today this would be a big deal, beginning with paramedics and police, summoned by cellphone, who would arrive in 10 minutes or less.There would be first aid and a trip to the hospital for X-rays or MRI's, injections, prescriptions, confinement for observation, physicians, insurance problems, forms to complete. Diagnosis and treatment would be elaborate. Later there would be legal activity against the hapless driver for gross negligence, prosecuted with relish by lawyers with contingent natures. The medical bills would be horrendous, only partially covered by insurance. Maybe there would even be a suit against the doctor and the hospital for malpractice. (Along with hypochondria we have become litigious.)

Healthcare costs have exploded for other reasons as well, some logical, some not. Studies show that many unnecessary consultations and procedures overload the system. The patient almost always agrees with the doctor's proposed remedies, even those only marginally necessary.

We now spend more on health care than any other country in the world (16.2 percent of GDP, about twice the rate of Germany).

Have we bought a healthier life? Has the prosperous American medical and pharmaceutical industry promoted a higher standard of well-being for our people? Checking the "CIA World Factbook" figures online for life expectancy, one is surprised to find that we are, contrary to popular belief, not the healthiest country in the world.

We have gone from one extreme to the other. Having "scraped by" under the old system, I am reluctant to test the new one, so now I look both ways before crossing the street.

- - -

H.C. Klingman can be reached at beckling@embarqmail.com. His column will appear every other Friday.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 0

Be the first to post a comment!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features