Thanks mostly to medical business, I’ve been out of touch for awhile. I was hospitalized for various tests and procedures nearly all of last week (no large problems, thank God), and save for a brief appearance at the law school’s graduation ceremony – I love graduations: everyone is so unremittingly happy – have spent this week recuperating.
Last week reminded me just how much attention patients in reasonably well-run hospitals receive. It’s remarkable; I saw a half-dozen doctors and another half-dozen nurses on a regular basis. Nighttime excepted, I rarely went as long as ninety minutes without at least one of them dropping by. Of course, I’m more advantaged than most patients. But this isn’t just a matter of class or status. My roommate, an alcoholic who appeared less than fully in touch with reality, had almost as much doctor attention and more nursing care than I had. All of which is a reminder that health care is a strange business: in the end, a large fraction of what sellers sell is human relationship. When done well, those relationships are a tonic. But it’s hard to see how one can both do them well and do them more cheaply – the twin goals of any plausible health care reform process. Plainly, the system needs reforming. Equally plainly, reform will come at a price. I hope it’s not too steep for patients like my hospital roommate, who need all the care they can get.