Cancer, Hospitals, Bureaucracy

Norman Spinrad is a noted science fiction author.  At the time (this past week) he  wrote this he is hospitalized for treatment of pancreatic cancer.  The source states the following has been put in the public domain.





I’ve been
getting a lot of hospital horror stories since I barely alluded to mine, and
been told any number of times that I was doing a public service. So, some
balanced thought….

Kettering is acknowledged as the best cancer hospital in the US if not the
world, and I can’t deny that on a scientific level, and it’s very well endowed
because it’s the cancer hospital of choice for the world’s elite patients.


But it is
also a huge establishment run, as most such operations are, according to rigid,
often counterproductive rules and protocols which are cold, unfeeling,
unspirited, and turn much of the lower staff levels into acting like inhuman
robots–this is the schedule, this is my routine, and if you don’t like it,
tough shit. So they wake you at 4 am to administer unimportant tests, depriving
you of sleep, likewise with room cleaning, housekeeping, etc.


There is a
so-called “Patient’s Representative,” who here in SK is really the
bureaucracy’s representative, an ice-cold, slick as goose-grease bitch whose
really job is to stone-wall patients by quoting arbitrary rules to keep
complainants from any administration pooh-bahs with the power to fix anything.


This is a
national disgrace, it wouldn’t be that hard to fix if there was a will, a
heart, and a public demand to do it. All it would really take is to rewrite
hospital rules and protocols based on the prime directive, that the patient’s
physical, health, emotional, and spiritual well being, or as much of it as can
possibly be maintained, comes first, not the convenience or arbitrary rules of
the administrative ass-covering bureaucracy.


That much
being said, something both more positive and not so positive must be said about
the doctors, nurses, and researchers working in the field of cancer treatment.
The cold equations are that in terms of actually curing cancer, they succeed
less than half the time. So in order to stay sane in careers where failure is
really more prevalent than true success, they redefine “success” in terms of
additional months of patient life.


I can see how
they must do this, they really are heroic, but I can also see why tons of money
have been wasted in the so-called “war on cancer” in terms of research and why
there is so much mealy-mouthing and obfuscation when confronting human beings
in dire straights.



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