Sunday, April 10, 2005

Does managing a given disease constitute a "Burden" on health-care systems?

It is almost mandatory in the introduction to medical articles that the author(s) point out that the disease at hand is common and important, often considered a "public health problem" and in the March 2005 Pulmonary perspectives (which is attached to the March issue of Chest) places a huge "burden" on ... health care systems." (this said in regard to caring for patients with lower respiratory infections)

The diseases at hand were the constellation of lower respiratory infections. Patients with pneumonia and acute exacerbation of COPD (AECB) are seen in ERs, some admitted to hospitals, treated by physicians, given antibiotics have lab tests and x-rays done, in short all of the usual things that happen when patients with various medical problems seek care. These are the things that happen in what is called " the health care system" which is not really even a system . Why is that a burden?

The dictionary give several definitions to "burden": something difficult to bear, a worry or a duty or responsiblity. Which does the author mean? Is managing AECB a worry for a pulmonolgist or is that just her job?.Certainly it is a responsibility. Filling out insurance forms may be characterized as a burden but treating patients with real diseases is what physicians do.Why do we not speak of changing oil as a burden on the car care industry?

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