Medical Care In Europe
At the beginning of the month I saw that there was a bit of a hoo-hah involving a U.S. citizen with tuberculosis. Apparently he has an extremely rare though dangerous form of the disease and he potentially contaminated an entire airplane full of people because he panicked and wanted to get home to be treated. Well, actually two airplanes full of people, I suppose. The CDC told him not to travel by air, but he said no one "ordered him not to." Once in Europe, the CDC contacted him and told him to turn himself in immediately at a clinic here. One article* quoted him as saying that he thought if he didn't get to the specialized clinic in Denver he was going to die: "If doctors in Europe tried to treat him and it went wrong, he said, 'it's very real that I could have died there.'" He also said that he felt that the CDC suddenly "abandoned" him.
I shouldn't judge anyone for their irrational actions, least of which would be panicking over medical issues. Up until the epidural, the bravest thing I've ever done was go to the dentist in a foreign country. Still, I think if I knew I had TB I'm not sure I would have left the country in the first place, particularly if I were in contact with the CDC. I don't think it's possible to deny that his actions were selfish and irresponsible, whether he was extremely scared or not.
There are several things that bothered me when I read the article. The first is that his family seems to think it's the U.S. government's responsibility to take care of him once he made the decision to disregard the CDC's advice in the first place. His wife said, "Imagine sitting in a foreign country with your husband and your government saying they were going to leave you there." Indeed. That comment definitely shows an attitude of entitlement and is a reason that Americans are less than popular overseas. It makes me wonder how many other people feel similarly, because I personally think it's an outrageous expectation.
The second is his comment about European doctors trying to treat him and potentially messing up, because, like, he could have died and stuff. Did he think they were going to try to fix him with leeches and bloodletting? Did he really think that he couldn't get quality health care here, or did he just make an impulsive decision to run back to the US? I have to say that I've been mightily impressed with the health care system in France and can't imagine that there aren't top-level TB clinics around. Granted, you might not have AC or HBO in your room, but the quality of care is going to be good. To me it looks like this person is one of those people who have no clue about the exterior world. I feel badly that he has the disease, but I also feel worse for the other people he endangered.
*I tried to post the link but something went awry...I'll see if I can find it again.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Medical Care In Europe
Posted by Pardon My French at 3:07 PM