Saturday, April 10, 2010

Google It, Just A Little Bit

Come on, google it!

My partner and I were just having a little chat about how people will watch the news *ahem* CNN, MSNBC, etc and blindly follow what's on there without checking around. Same goes for Fox News or whoever, people sit at home and listen to the reports or read their local paper and take it all as fact. Yet they will turn around and make fun of People magazine, US weekly, the Enquirer etc and know that a lot of what you read in those publications should be taken with a grain of salt (well, there is a large group of people who read them like a textbook and slobber over the 'facts', but in general, people look at those types of celebrity news rags as 'entertainment'.)

Well, really, what is the difference between People and CNN? One is just more focused on celebrity issues. In the end, they all get information from various sources and then pass it on to the public. If you would scrutinize the Enquirer, why wouldn't you scrutinize your local paper or CNN, or Fox (just throwing that in to be fair lol)... ? Why wouldn't you? I've seen stories in People that turned out to be false, just as I've seen stories on CNN turn out to be false (ex, the sept 11, 2009 report of shots fired, when it was a Coast Guard exercise and no shots were fired). And I've seen stories in the Enquirer that a celeb swore up down and all around to CNN correspondants 'to be untrue', but bingo-bango, it turned out the Enquirer was correct and broke the news first. Round and round we go....

As an example of reading and not questioning or looking for true facts, I was reading my local paper today and saw that my local and Alberta's unemployment rates went up in March. But in there, the spokeswoman said that it's hard to really judge the numbers because a lot of oil and gas companies have "Sprink Break-Up", so the % might appear larger when it's really only because of those people taking a 'break'..... ummmmm I know a ton of people in this industry, including inlaws and my partner, and none of them collect Unemployment when they are on spring break up.... so why would they be in the tally at all? They are not laid off, and many have their base pay and still have to go into the shop, they just don't actually go out in the field for a few weeks (which is where they make the big bucks). There are some in various companies that get laid off, but the spokeswoman in the paper just used the march break-up as a blanket reason for higher local and provincial unemployment rates, giving the reader the impression that come April, all will be well again. But no numbers were provided in our paper other than the unemployment % (7.1 local, 7.5 provincial). So.. how many people in that tally were actually on this 'breakup'. The other factor used was a reduction in some service producing industries like educational services and public administration. Okay... there was a reduction in funding for those positions I suspect but it doesn't really say, nor does it say how many. At any rate it sounds like that is not a 'temporary' glitch in the employment game, it sounds rather permanent. That was it, that was all the reasons given. Wow! What an enlightening and informative article. How about someone sitting down and tallying up just how many 'spring break up' people filed for EI benefits and tell us that? Or how about people reading the article stop to think about it for a minute like I did and realize that 'spokeswoman was speaking out of her *AHEM*?

Next I move on to listening to the news speaking yet again about France's wonderful healthcare system. I believe it was on CNN. The gist was that they don't understand why so many Americans (ex, the tea partiers) are upset about having a system like France. They continually state that France is #1 on the WHO's list of top healthcare countries. But how many people actually take the time to check out what goes on there? All I did was sit down and type "Doctor Salaries in France" into that easy-peasy google bar and I found multiple listings of $55,000 a year average. I saw a couple for about $116,000 a year, but mostly $55,000. I decided to start there because I knew from previous investigations that their doctors earn cosiderably less than in North America and I wondered what that could lead to......

Within that list was a link to a British General Practice Journal (GPs) from 2004 talking about interesting things such as how French doctors often go on STRIKE, as in yearly, to voice their concerns with the system.

So then I ran with that idea and Googled 'French doctors on strike', and got hits on BBC news for a 2002 strike where thousands of Family Doctors went on strike (75 to 90% of docs in the country supporting the strike!). That followed a strike by thousands of Nurses throughout the country only a few days earlier. Or a strike in 2005, or in 1996 there were threatened strikes, a call for a March 2010 strike (excerpt: "Each practice is dealing with a higher number of patients as doctors retire and graduates choose better-paid jobs instead".),a 2001 strike within days of a Christmas strike, oh and lookie here, they just walked out on THURSDAY (as in 2 days ago). Okay well anyway, you get the idea. Google can be a pain in the butt to navigate, or it can lead you very quickly to some interesting information to take note of. All of those were from the first page of listings on Google.

Most of the strike reasons centered around pay for certain procedures, heavy workload (the 2004 paper cites that GPs have 2-3 hours a day of paperwork to do on top of their regular duties), or lack of funding for support staff. Think about who all is needed on staff for an emergency surgery... When I had an emergency c-section on March 15, 2008, I had 9 medical staff in the room. No one knew what to expect because I was only 33 weeks along, so I had a 3-member NICU team, plus my surgeon and his partner, an anesthesiologist, and nurses ready with instruments and support. The surgeon can hardly do it himself, cranking open a woman's abdomen and womb and pulling out a tiny 3lb baby. I would say that every person in my room was hopping, not just standing around being paid to do 'nothing'. As soon as the baby was out, the NICU team jumped into action but the rest of the staff was still needed for looking after me, making sure all my body parts will still intact, close me up, monitor my vitals, and then clean up the giant mess (ewwww. hard to think about that crazy day!!!). So there we go - about 9 people for a csection... I wonder how many people are needed for a major traumatic injury, open heart surgery, etc. And then there is staff needed for the after-care in the recovery room (they checked on me every 5-15 mins), and then more staff back in my room (checking my catheter bag, holding a bowl for me while I puked my guts out, a lovely LPN who came in just as I was having a major blood pressure crash and kept me conscious while calling for help, feeding me juice and keeping me in the land of the living, then the nurses who checked my bandages, staples, delicious tube draining gunk, etc), an RN helping me try to get to the shower, the NICU staff bringing my baby to me so I wouldn't have to crawl down the hall to visit him, etc. For one person, I sure used a bunch of staff but seeing as I couldn't walk, they were needed! All of them..... so if hospitals are not getting enough support staff, they cannot care for patients properly which goes against their oath to do the best they can. If they can't get what they need, they cannot work or at least should not work, don't you agree? You can't cut someone open and then leave them there to sort themselves out lol. Not unless you want a visit from the Gangrene Fairy. So they opt to go on strike... but it seems like France is going on strike an awful lot for having 'the best healthcare system in the world'.

Are they a bunch of greedy maniacs who don't care about their patients? Or are they so fed up with not being able to care for them properly, they'd rather not do anything until things improve. I can't remember doctors going on strike in my city - but France is supposed to be better so I'm confused. France is supposed to be a model for the rest of the world? I'm confused again.

I'm not saying one is better than the other, but I'm saying how easy it is to find unrest among the touted systems. I blogged previously about Japan's system and of course several times about Canada's. Healthcare is costly. Of course it is. We are talking saving human lives here, not real estate or vehicles. We are talking bettering lives or trying to, by making them more comfortable, curing disease, saving lives of children, advancements that have helped us increase our quality of life and life spans, and so on. We're not talking chump change for that kind of technology and staff. But when it's a system that everyone is forced to pay into whether they use it or not, or deserving salaries for those who initiate, provide and complete the care are cut or stalled by a govt, or services are strained and lacking despite the great influx of public and private dollars --- is that a' top' system? When you look at the complaints, worries, problems, lack of funds, the systems aren't even that different from each other! If you took out the name of the country and made people read the various articles, they would have no clue if we were talking about France, Canada, Japan, or the US. But why try to change one system into another when that one leaves much to be desired as well? Why not try other changes first? Why bombard people with 2500 pages of muck that doesn't even consist entirely of medical issues? And then act like they are being stupid racist idiots for not supporting it?

And back to my original idea, why don't I hear more of this talk on programs like CNN?

I'm also reminded of watching CNN this morning with a clip of John Roberts (teehee former Much Music VJ) speaking to the CEO of Massey about the coal mine disaster this week, and the citations the company has had for various violations. The CEO said something like 'if the people asking these questions actually understood how this works, they would know the answer to that already'. I feel awful for the families, I can't imagine their pain. However I also know what it is like, through my own job, to come away from an inspection with 'two violations' on record. Parents at my daycare see those words on the forms we have to post and they freak out --- 'violation' sounds very negative. So they are always taken-aback when they ask 'what violations??!!??!!' [envisioning us tying up toddlers or smacking kids, I'm sure] and we provide the details that one violation was not changing a burnt-out light bulb immediately, and the second violation was PARENTS not signing their children in and out properly. My point for this mention is that the govt sets up all of these inspections and requirements and calls them all violations, when it could be anything from someone leaving a glove on the floor, to leaving a tool on a bench for 10 mins longer than necessary, or up to actual serious issues like improper ventilation. You can have CNN and others report numbers, but they don't seem to go into the nitty gritty. They will tell you that the mine faced $1,000,000 in fines over the past year, but won't delve into what is 'average' among the country's mines, and how many violations came from petty things as opposed to serious things. I'm smart enough to think about that when listening to the news, but too many other people just spew those random facts out without putting any further thought or investigation into them. Same with healthcare in France or Japan, same with pretty much any issue you could come up with.

The internet is here at your fingertips. Use it to collect data, check out several sources, and put it all together in your brain to see what Big Picture you come out with, rather than simply digesting info from once source and assume without checking that the facts have been brought to you totally and completely.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent points, Kez.

    I concur with 'em.

    Looks like it's you who's on a roll today. ;)



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