The tragedy of more than 800 BC residents dying in a one-week period … many while waiting for ambulances that were delayed for hours or never arrived … was well-covered in the news.
And so were all the perceived reasons: the severe heat; normal aging/health causes; and … the BIG one … the lack of ambulance/paramedics when they were critically needed.
However, a story in the news this past week reveals there may be another major overlooked factor killing British Columbians before their time … that this Blog predicted 10 months ago, but the media ignored/missed.
It has been more than 15 months since many BC physicians … including specialists … stopped seeing patients “in person” due to fears over Covid.
As a result, how many seniors, chronically ill adults haven’t had their blood pressure checked by a doctor for a year and a half? Or checked at all? How many kids, adults, elderly have not had a doctor look into their throats, their eyes, at their skin or use a stethoscope … and perhaps notice something serious even before the patients became really aware of it themselves?
In-person diagnosis by doctors used to be the norm … and it’s time to get back to that.
Doctors’ phone-in consults or virtual visits, even when backed by lab tests, are just not EQUAL substitutes for in-person examinations.
Yet, even with BC’s Covid new cases now down to only 50 a day or so across the entire province, thousands of doctors are still “dialing it in”.
I get it: remote examinations certainly are the safest way to go; they are also more convenient; and, doctors may even be able to squeeze in more “visit$” each day.
But that is NOT First Rate health care!
And Wednesday, a story on the on-going ambulance crisis made me wonder: could Covid doctor-visit restrictions/eliminations … not just ambulance shortages … also be leading to more patient deaths?
That was the day Health Minister Adrian Dix announced a major plan to address/overhaul/increase and improve BC’s ambulance services. Bravo!
In an accompanying analysis, Global’s Keith Baldrey pointed out total daily Ambulance calls were UP 20 per cent during first six months of 2021 … compared to before the “heat” crisis.
Overdose calls were UP 28% … the biggest increase; BUT heart problem calls were UP 24%; abdominal pain calls rose 14%; and, and another 11% were UP for chest pains: a total increase of 49% in ambulance calls for those three last categories ! That’s HUGE!
Not Covid. Not heat. It’s science … and the statistics don’t lie.
Clearly, people with heart/chest/abdominal problems in BC were NOT … and ARE not … getting the attention they need BEFORE health problems turn into crises, requiring an ambulance, hospitalization and critical care.
In fact, the total INCREASE in ambulance calls over the six months was 7,728. (Let me emphasize: that figure … 7,728 … is not the total, but just the INCREASE! Something is indeed awry.)
Which raises the question … or should … to Health Minister Adrian Dix or Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry: how many of those could have been avoided … or mitigated without ever needing an ambulance … if BC doctors were doing what BC doctors used to do: seeing their patients in person?
I actually wrote a Blog in Sept. 2020 warning about the danger of doctors dialing it in: http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/the-declining-health-standard-bc-government-health-officials-and-media-are-ignoring/.
Looking at the large increases in ambulance calls and death numbers, that Blog was prescient!
How many of the 800 people who died June 25 to July 1 in BC … FOUR TIMES the normal weekly rate … could still be alive had they been seen, examined and diagnosed by their physicians in person before their health issues turned into crisis ???
It’s time for the BC government and the BC College of Physicians to get ALL BC doctors back to seeing their patients in their offices … taking Covid precautions, just like dentists, optometrists, ophthalmologists and so many others have done for months now.
And save lives.
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