Did Natasha Richardson suffer “walk and die” syndrome?

Sometimes, the symptoms don’t appear so quickly.
For example, this has been the case for a lot of soldiers suffering from traumatic brain injury, or TBI, a signature injury of a war.
The conditions can range from a mild concussion to harsh, visible injury. Some people suffering from a brain injury do not seek care because symptoms may not seem apparent immediately.

So is this the case of Natasha Richardson?
This is what Los Angeles Times reports:
“The head injury Natasha Richardson suffered in a skiing accident Tuesday produced what is often called a “walk and die,” syndrome, which is usually due to delayed bleeding from an artery in the brain, said Dr. Christopher Giza, a neurologist at the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center.”
“In such cases, the patients, like Richardson, appear normal immediately after the injury, walking and talking as though nothing happened. But symptoms can develop within an hour, causing the patients first to suffer impaired speech and vision and then to fall into a coma.”

According to CNN, those injuries are also called “epidural hemorrhage.”

“Blood gets trapped between the skull and the hard layer of skin between the bone and brain, known as the dura matter. As the blood flows from the ruptured artery, the fluid builds and punctures the dura,” the network reported.
Read more about it on CNN or Los Angeles Times

52 comments Add your comment

Raymond Brusstar

March 18th, 2009
8:42 pm

Did they operate? She was sent to three hospitals and still died so since all this is known about the head injury why wasn’t the pressure relieved?

Patricia

March 18th, 2009
8:43 pm

This is very sad and unexpected. I really feel for this family.

Jessica

March 18th, 2009
10:21 pm

Raymond, I wonder the same thing. And why did they have to send her to three hospitals? Was she not getting the treatment she needed at the hospital in Montreal? If not, why not? And with all that pressure building up in her head from the injury, was it safe to put her on a plane??

marilynn

March 18th, 2009
10:58 pm

I think she was brain dead before they put her on the plane so it did not matter by then. She was sent home to have goodbyes and pull the plug. What I don’t understand is how you can suffer such a hard head injury from a bunny slope? I thought maybe she had an aneurism and the fall triggered the bleeding which led to a ruptured blood vessel. We will find out eventually. Really sad and tragic.

Makda

March 18th, 2009
11:11 pm

WOW! people r so stupid these days.
I mean, if she stayed in the london hospital, they might of helped her there.
I acuse the people that put here on the plane.
Here on the plane ride gave the blood time to do what it was doing and kill her.

Cng

March 18th, 2009
11:36 pm

Makada, You are so stupid. What medical training have you had?

lth

March 19th, 2009
12:02 am

She wasn’t IN London. She was skiing in Canada !!!!

Susan

March 19th, 2009
12:56 am

I used to be indifferent about helmets and skiing because I only skied Nordic style whenever I did. But the more I think about it, the more I think people should consider wearing helmets on the slope, even if it’s just a bunny slope. Up until today I probably wouldn’t have worn a helmet if I started skiing downhill — but now I probably would. How very sad for Natasha and her family. Bless their hearts.

TLF

March 19th, 2009
1:02 am

Hey, so you all know, The CNN medical expert must have also suffered from a brain injury, an epidural bleed is between the dura and the skull, as stated above, however once the bleed breaks the dura,if thats possible, it’s no longer an epiduarl bleed but considered a subduarl bleed. Which would make more sense since subdural account for about 35% for sever brain bleeds. It’s also consistent with Diffuse Axon Injuries or brainstem injuries which is what the doctors apparently are referring to, i just wish they would come out and just say what it is, rather then try and dumb it down. -T

Trapshooter

March 19th, 2009
1:15 am

Thank TFL tho for actually correcting some genuises. Don’t get me worng they are but the don’t need to act like were all dumb. But other then that I feel very bad fpr the family and what they’re all going through.

Trapshooter

March 19th, 2009
1:16 am

TLF* my bad.

Gerhard

March 19th, 2009
1:42 am

She was likely brain dead before she left Montreal: not much point in moving her if there is any hope of survival.

Willie

March 19th, 2009
4:32 am

Actually ths is a classic epidural bleed presentation, I mean a text book presentation. The only question left in this regard is did she have a seizure too. The reality of medicine in Canada is that they do not have neurosurgical accomodations, equipment and surgeons at each and every hospital like we do here in the USA. This is a classic socailized medicine scenario that happens there weekly. We will also have this scenario here soon as the government will cut out each hospital from having every speacialty and you will have to go to specific hospitals for specific care. This is considered a cost saving move and more of us will die and suffer as a result. That is why she was taken from hospital to hospital.

By the way the treament for this is usually a CAT scan or MRI of the brain for accurate diagnosis. The CT is much faster followed by placement of a wel positioned bore hole to allow drainage of the blood and relieve pressure followed by cautery of the epidural vessel as needed, usually a small vein partially torn, to tamponade the bleeding and it takes less than 30 minutes. This is truly bad and a waste of a life

sharon

March 19th, 2009
7:13 am

My heart aches for her family, especially her children. Life is so fragile. I’m so shaken by the fact that she was alert and talking after the fall and then suddenly slipped into a coma. We should pay special attention when small children and the elderly take a fall.

Jessica

March 19th, 2009
7:36 am

Thank you Willie. I, too, am concerned that with socialized medicine many will die needlessly because they can’t get the care they need. If in fact the hospital in Montreal didn’t have neurosurgical accomodations, equipment and surgeons to help Natasha, it must have been a terrible frustration for her family, and my heart goes out to them. I wonder if anyone knows the name of the hospital in Montreal.

Jonas

March 19th, 2009
10:19 am

Willie, you must be a Republican, because it’s standard Republican policy to use personal medical tragedies to further their political agenda — witness the Terry Schiavo case in Florida last year.

Tee

March 19th, 2009
10:31 am

Jessica: to answer your question, the Montreal hospital was Sacre Coeur de Montreal. It is associated with the Universite de Montreal.

Many Americans have been speculating that the hospital did not have the necessary CT scans, etc, to properly diagnose Ms. Richardson, blaming the Canadian universal health care system for not equipping all hospitals with adequate technology. I’ve lived in Montreal and also in very small Canadian cities, and I can assure you that there are CT and MRI capabilities in all Canadian hospitals, with the possible exception of VERY small towns, in which case patients would be airlifted to the nearest large hospital with these technologies. Montreal is a city with a 3.6 million population. Rest assured, Sacre Coeur has CT scans.

From what I’ve read, Ms. Richardson denied initial medical help, and it wasn’t until she developed a severe headache that she allowed for medical attention. She was already brain dead by the time she arrived at Sacre Coeur and the family moved her to New York so that family and friends could see her one last time.

A terrible shame, no doubt. Wear helmets, people. It may not have prevented this tragedy, but it wouldn’t have hurt, either.

Trey

March 19th, 2009
10:49 am

Actually I think the best time to bring these things up is when there is proof ot the results of socialized medicine. Simply put it results in longer lines and a drop in quality of care. He stated a fact and you don’t like it, deal with it. Its truly sad to see someone die when they might have been fine with the proper care. Doesn’t this make you think what if that was me I know I would want the best medical care available if this happened to one of my family members.

Troy

March 19th, 2009
12:00 pm

Willie is your classic ignorant American spouting off about things they have no clue about. Question, Would you stand up in a room full of educated individuals and make a fool out of yourself? Why do it on the internet?

Why don’t you take a trip through Georgia and tell me how many small towns have a Hospital, let alone a trauma unit with a surgical neurologist on staff. I’ve been through more po dunk towns in your state than I care to remember. I would have swore I was in some 3rd world sh*thole in half of them if I didn’t know how to read a map.

Oh, interesting that our health care system give us the same outcomes when it comes to treating diseases as yours; some better, some worse, statistically insignificant differences in all from heart disease to cancer. We live longer up here as well. You pay twice as much for the same standard of care. You can’t even cover everyone and the leading cause of bankruptcy is from medical bills. Yeah, you have the better system.

You guys are always the best even when all evidence slapping you in the head points otherwise. Keep chirping its good for a laugh.

kim

March 19th, 2009
12:02 pm

Really? Longer than I wait in the emergency room already? Longer than the 6 hours it took for my girlfriend’s father to be seen when he was in the throws of COPD? I experienced socialized medicine in England as an American visitor. I waited less time and was treated no differently than if I had been here in the US. You people need to watch Sicko…it will change your minds on socialized medicine.

As for Ms. Richardson, this is a terrible tragedy, and to use something like this as “proof” socialized medicine doesn’t work, without knowing all of the facts, is typical scare tactics. How about some human sympathy for her family? Leave the politics out of it.

Raymond Brusstar

March 19th, 2009
1:07 pm

Interesting comments. My mother and my wife’s grandmother were both treated in a hospital in London (different times) and raved about the care and the medical professionals in attendance. I believe the comments referring to our system over their system is off the mark and not going to get to the answers these comments were suppose to be about. Does anyone know for sure (haven’t checked the news yet) that she was brain dead at the first hospital? The second? Seems to me a couple of you know what you are talking about and it comes down to the timing of her first hospital visit. If she was already brain dead then everything after is personal for the family and a tragedy.

Allan J Krueger

March 19th, 2009
1:48 pm

The SOCIALIZED MEDICINE comments always come from individuals who have top notch coverage and do not pay one dime for it. FUBAR!

Janet

March 19th, 2009
1:52 pm

People, stop blabbing about socialized medicine being the cause of her death. Before you come out with your indoctrinated opinions, travel around the world a bit and get the full perspective. Just thinking that the US is the non plus ultra actually means it is. Furthermore, you ALL have no clue what happened so stop blabbing about that , too. If you do not know the facts keep your mouth shut. This was a tragedy, but that is part of life.

Spud

March 19th, 2009
1:58 pm

People die every day through lack of medical care, I am sure docs and nurses do their best with limited resources. I am a victim of medical mishap, but just have to get on with life. Whether the person is famous or not, sympathies to the family, her 2 boys, Kirsty Macall, died in similar circumstances, y does someone famous v to die before issues are raised regarding health care, helmets etc. Enough is enough, people are starving, rest in peace all who died today.

Ka'ai

March 19th, 2009
2:24 pm

I was thinking the same thing. Couldn’t they have done something quick?!
My thoughts and prayers to Liam Neeson and sons. Much Aloha!!

Marcel

March 19th, 2009
3:04 pm

The first hospital that Richardson went to was located in a small town (Population 9000) near Mont Tremblant where the accident occurred. They examined her, gave her initial treatment, and then decided to evacuate her via ambulance to Sacre-Coeur Hospital in Montreal (about 65 miles away). This decision was made because Sacre-Coeur has an excellent neurological department and it’s located in one of Canada’s largest cities. It was while she was in Montreal that she was declared to be brain dead.

She wasn’t transferred to New York for medical treatment. The took her to New York for the benefit of her sons and other family members. They wanted to keep her on life support in order for them to be able to give her a final goodbye.

When she left Montreal they knew she wasn’t going to survive.

Apparently, she was told to see a doctor immediately after the accident occurred, and a short time later by her hotel staff, but she declined to go. It was several hours later, when symptoms started to appear that she decided to go to the hospital. Who knows whether she would have survived if she had gone to the hospital right away.

In the end, she probably would not have survived regardless of where the accident occurred.

JohnnyMack

March 19th, 2009
4:17 pm

They turned away paramedics on the actual ski hill. If the paramedics had seen her, no doubt she would still be alive. This was walk and die syndrome. Has nothing to do with medical care in Canada which is top notch.

I was watching “Extreme Sports” on cable an watched a woman tumble an entire mile down an extremely steep hill, hitting jutting rocks along the way, hitting her head at least 50 times as she pinwheeled down the embankment. She blacked out half way down.

She ended up with a bruised arm.

Natasha has a mild fall on the bunny hill. All that tells you is that when it’s your time, it’s your time. Period

Pat

March 19th, 2009
4:21 pm

It’s annoying how ideologues are using this to scare clueless Americans about “socialized medicine.” Yeah, like Canada is such a backwards, 3rd world country. Try visiting other countries and learning about them before making such moronic statements. Canadians wouldn’t put up with our craptastic health care system for two seconds. Richardson got transferred the first time because it was a small town hospital – they took her to a large hospital with a prestigious neurology department for further evaluation, but by then it was too late. She was sent home to NY to die surrounded by her family.
Trust me, you don’t want to have an aneurysm in BumF_k, Georgia and get sent to their little hospital – you’d better pray you’re life-flighted to a major trauma center in time … actually, you’d better pray it happens in the ER with you scrubbed up for surgery. There’s almost NO time in this situation for any delay. This isn’t about socialized medicine, it’s about a freak accident, a tragic treatment delay and possibly, a tragedy that even if everything after the fall had “gone right” – could STILL have ended in her death. Just very sad.

NJYM

March 19th, 2009
5:07 pm

The only reason she wasn’t operated on is unfortunately because of LAW SUITS.
I used to work at a neurosurgical equipment company and learned alot about neurosurgery around
the world. In some countries…albeit rough…a burr hole would have been made to relieve the pressure
and wait-n-see without fear of a lawsuit. BUT here in the US we have conditioned everyone to proceed
much more cautiously due to legal costs. She DIED because of MONEY and GREED.

Marcusan

March 19th, 2009
5:07 pm

Don’t forget: The US health insurance industry has approximately 2 millions employees who can act as foot soldiers to beat back attempts at health reform. They’re scared to death of losing their jobs and have a self-interest in painting socialized healthcare as evil, substandard, overpriced, etc.etc.

JJennifer

March 19th, 2009
5:34 pm

Nowhere in the US is anyone turned away from a hospital whether they can pay or not. With socialized medicine, you will have rationing of care and what no one is telling you is that socialized medicine will have to be subsidized by the taxpayers. Nothing is free, period.

kim

March 19th, 2009
6:23 pm

NJYM — She didn’t die from money and greed, she died in a country that treats EVERYONE that walks through the door. It was a tragic delay in treatment, and a tragic outcome that had nothing to do with money or greed. Now, if she had died in the US, I might agree with you.

Cheryl

March 19th, 2009
8:22 pm

Get a grip people stop blaming the health care when she was already unconcious and in a coma when arriving at the hospital. Canadian health care is just as good as USA healthcare. If you think social medicine is poor medicine then you are SICK. Listening to too many politicians that don’t know what they are talking about. I have social medicine and it is wonderful and I get all the treatments I need and I pay for it through my taxes instead of going bankrupt. GIVE ME A BREAK. Unless you live in it or experience it then you don’t have a right to say something you don’t know anything about.

Cheryl

March 19th, 2009
8:31 pm

I also would like to add as I got carried away. My thought and prayers go to her and her family. So sorry.

Theresa

March 20th, 2009
1:12 am

Willie you are an idiot!!! Not every hospital in America has specialists, people do need to be transferred alot, hello not every hospital is located in a metropolis!!!

Jen

March 20th, 2009
1:41 am

I live in Canada, and believe that our healthcare system is in a horrible crisis and will only get worse. Compared to European countries we are number 23 out of 30 in terms of quality of healthcare. That’s nothing to write home about.

According to ER physicians and trauma surgeons, Montreal lacks the capacity to offer an emergency helicopter service. One would think that a city the size of Montreal, dealing with very ill and injured persons would provide an emergency helicopter. Such a service can get someone from a smaller, more remote hospital to one offering trauma service, much more quickly. Longer ambulance rides, can indeed increase fatality rates, in the case of life threatening injury or illness.

Montreal lacks emergency helicopter system
http://montreal.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20090318/mtl_helicopter_090318/20090318/?hub=MontrealHome

Montreal lacks emergency helicopter system
Updated: Wed Mar. 18 2009 6:43:21 PM

ctvmontreal.ca
Montreal is lacking an emergency helicopter system, according to Dr. Tarek Razek, head of the trauma team at the Montreal General Hospital.
“We have no medical helicopter transport system in this region or in western Quebec at all. And it’s the only region I’ve been able to find in the western world,” he said.
He notes that Nova Scotia, which is not a wealthy province, has a medical helicopter.
It is a problem that is frustrating for some of Montreal’s trauma professionals.
“I have a child and I think about what happens if we’re driving in the beautiful countryside and we have a car crash. He can’t– or I won’t be able to– get him to definitive care,” said Dr. Paola Fata, a trauma surgeon at the MUHC.
The problem has come to light after actress Natasha Richardson suffered a tumble on a beginner ski hill at Mont Tremblant on Monday. The fall resulted in a serious brain injury. She was not wearing a helmet.
“If you have a ski crash at Mont Tremblant or in Sutton, I cannot get you to my centre fast enough to have those reductions in mortality. I just can’t. Because we don’t have the mechanisms and the systems in this region to get you there. So– wear a helmet when you ski– because you’re not going to come to me,” said Razek.

Willie

March 20th, 2009
2:55 am

I want the people Americans and Canadians who like the Canadian system to see what Canadians are saying about their socialized health care system :
(AP) A letter from the Moncton Hospital to a New Brunswick heart patient in need of an electrocardiogram said the appointment would be in three months. It added: “If the person named on this computer-generated letter is deceased, please accept our sincere apologies.” Americans who flock to Canada for cheap flu shots often come away impressed at the free and first-class medical care available to Canadians, rich or poor. But tell that to hospital administrators constantly having to cut staff for lack of funds, or to the mother whose teenager was advised she would have to wait up to three years for surgery to repair a torn knee ligament.

“It’s like somebody’s telling you that you can buy this car, and you’ve paid for the car, but you can’t have it right now,” said Jane Pelton. Rather than leave daughter Emily in pain and a knee brace, the Ottawa family opted to pay $3,300 for arthroscopic surgery at a private clinic in Vancouver, with no help from the government.

“Every day we’re paying for health care, yet when we go to access it, it’s just not there,” said Pelton.

The average Canadian family pays about 48 percent of its income in taxes each year, partly to fund the health care system. Rates vary from province to province, but Ontario, the most populous, spends roughly 40 percent of every tax dollar on health care, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

The system is going broke, says the federation, which campaigns for tax reform and private enterprise in health care.

Willie

March 20th, 2009
2:56 am

What about the availability of healthcare here are the stats
An estimated 4 million of Canada’s 33 million people don’t have family physicians and more than 1 million are on waiting lists for treatment, according to the Canadian Medical Association. Meanwhile, some 200 physicians head to the United States each year, attracted by lower taxes and better working conditions. Canada has 2.1 physicians per 1,000 people, while Belgium has 3.9, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Willie

March 20th, 2009
2:59 am

What about rationing health care does the Canadian system ration? Yes they call it queuing and here it what the Canadian doctors think of it

Queuing

Queuing is a controversial measurement, not least because there may be many explanations for the queuing, many of them medically justifiable, so that aggregate queuing figures may conflate those whose waiting poses no health or other risk with those whose health may be impaired or may suffer pain while waiting.
That being said, in a system in which health services are free at the point of consumption, queuing is the most common form of rationing scarce medical resources. And since patient satisfaction plays no part in determining incomes or other economic rewards for health care providers and administrators in the public system, patients’ time is treated as if it has no value. There are no penalties in the system for making people wait
All of this is due, as I argued in a major paper I co-authored in 2002,10 to the conflict of interest at the heart of Medicare, in which the people who are the ultimate providers of health care services in Canada are also the people charged with regulating the system and quality assurance. Since no one is a competent judge of his or her own performance, and no one likes to be held accountable for his or her work, the result is that the health care system simply does not set tough standards or collect the information that would allow us to hold the system’s administrators accountable for their stewardship of our health care and the billions of dollars that they spend. The people who would collect the information are also the people whose performance would be assessed if useful information were made available. There appears to be no legal obligation on governments actually to supply the services they have promised to the population as their monopoly supplier of health insurance. This is an appalling double standard, as no responsible regulator would permit a private supplier of insurance to behave in this way, as a recent background paper for my Institute makes clear.11

Willie

March 20th, 2009
3:02 am

There is more on Queuing and the lack of statistics

“I would also like to point out that while we talk a lot about queuing in the Canadian health care system, and we talk as if we know how many people are waiting and how long they wait, in fact we do not know this at all. Ironically for the largest single program expenditure of governments in Canada, we know astonishingly little about what we get for our money. As my colleague David Zitner, Director of Medical Informatics at Dalhousie University in Halifax and Health Policy Fellow at my Institute, likes to say, no health care institution in Canada can tell you how many people got better, how many people got worse, and how many people’s condition was left unchanged by their contact with their institution. None of them can give you an answer. No one knows how many people died while waiting for needed surgery. No one knows how many people are queuing for any particular procedure or how many people cannot find a family doctor. Mostly we have guesswork, anecdote, and subjective measures, not objective ones (such as the Fraser Institute reports mentioned earlier). We do not even know how long someone has to wait before he or she has waited “too long,” because the health care system does not establish official standards for timely care–although presumably even Mr. Romanow would agree that someone who died while waiting for care may have waited a tad too long.

Natasha would be the person that waited “a tad too long”

Willie

March 20th, 2009
3:04 am

What are Canadians saying about MRI’s and CT scans and technology?

Medical technology

With respect to medical technology, Canada’s performance is also unimpressive. In a study12 comparing Canadians’ access to four specific medical technologies (computed tomography [CT] scanners, radiation equipment, lithotriptors, and magnetic resonance imagers [MRI]), with access by citizens of other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, Canadians’ access was significantly poorer in three of the four. Despite spending a full 1.6 percent of GDP more on health care than the OECD average, Canadians were well down the league tables in access to CT scanners (21st of 28), lithotriptors (19th out of 22), and MRIs (19th out of 27). Moreover, access to several of these technologies worsened relative to access in other countries over the last decade.

Willie

March 20th, 2009
3:09 am

Anything that is free is usually SH#$ Canadians on free health care

“Free” Health Care Empowers the Poor

Everything I want to say about this is summed up in a story that happened to my partner Shelley. Shelley and I are partners in a restaurant, and she actually runs it. She was given an appointment at the hospital for a procedure, and she duly showed up at the appointed time. Two hours later she was still sitting there waiting to be called. Now she was only able to get a two-hour parking meter, and so she approached the desk and asked if she could go and put money in the meter. She was curtly told that she was free to go and put the money in, but that if her name were called while she was away, that her name would fall back to the bottom of the queue. So she just decided that she would take the parking ticket as part of the price of getting the medical service she needed. Another two hours passed, and still she was not called, so she again approached the counter, and very patiently and politely explained (as only Shelley can, because she is the soul of graciousness) that she actually had a small business to run; that she was there at the appointed time for her appointment; that she had waited four hours, which is far longer than she had been led to expect the whole thing would take; that she had other commitments because of the business; and could they possibly at least give her some idea of how much longer she might have to wait?
Well, the woman behind the counter got on her dignity, drew herself up to her full height, glared at Shelley and said, “You’re talking as if you’re some kind of customer!”
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen, the essence of the problem: When the government supplies you with “free” health care, you are not a powerful customer who must be satisfied. They are doing you a favor and you owe the state gratitude and servility in return for this awesome generosity. They can give you the worst service in the world, but because it is free, you are totally disempowered. One of the most important lessons I have learned from my contact with the Canadian Medicare system is that payment makes you powerful. And its absence makes you risible if not invisible.

Anything that is “Free” is usually SH#$

Willie

March 20th, 2009
3:12 am

Will Canadians ever go back to private healthcare? Yes if they can check out below

CMA Head Says Canada’s Health-Care System in Crisis, Needs Change
Posted on: Wednesday, 22 August 2007, 21:15 CDT
By CAMILLE BAINS
VANCOUVER (CP) – The incoming president of the Canadian Medical Association says the country’s public health-care system is headed for crisis, but a greater role for private health care could be the right prescription.
Dr. Brian Day said in his inaugural speech to Canada’s medical establishment Wednesday that contracting out health services isn’t new and has helped slash wait lists.
“Let’s be clear: Canadians should have the right to private medical insurance when timely access is not available in the public system,” he said to applause from about 270 delegates at the annual convention

Willie

March 20th, 2009
3:30 am

What does the Canadian who created the Canadian health care sytem 40 years ago say about it today? Ladies and Gentleman I give you Claude Castonguay

Back in the 1960s, Castonguay chaired a Canadian government committee studying health reform and recommended that his home province of Quebec — then the largest and most affluent in the country — adopt government-administered health care, covering all citizens through tax levies.
The government followed his advice, leading to his modern-day moniker: “the father of Quebec medicare.” Even this title seems modest; Castonguay’s work triggered a domino effect across the country, until eventually his ideas were implemented from coast to coast.
Four decades later, as the chairman of a government committee reviewing Quebec health care this year, Castonguay concluded that the system is in “crisis.”
“We thought we could resolve the system’s problems by rationing services or injecting massive amounts of new money into it,” says Castonguay. But now he prescribes a radical overhaul: “We are proposing to give a greater role to the private sector so that people can exercise freedom of choice.”
Castonguay advocates contracting out services to the private sector, going so far as suggesting that public hospitals rent space during off-hours to entrepreneurial doctors. He supports co-pays for patients who want to see physicians. Castonguay, the man who championed public health insurance in Canada, now urges for the legalization of private health insurance.
What would drive this champion of socialism to the private sector?
Try a health care system so overburdened that hundreds of thousands in need of medical attention wait for care, any care; a system where people in towns like Norwalk, Ontario, participate in lotteries to win appointments with the local family doctor.
Years ago, Canadians touted their health care system as the best in the world; today, Canadian health care stands in ruinous shape.

Willie

March 20th, 2009
3:35 am

What about the women and children?

Sick with ovarian cancer, Sylvia de Vires, an Ontario woman afflicted with a 13-inch, fluid-filled tumor weighing 40 pounds, was unable to get timely care in Canada. She crossed the American border to Pontiac, Mich., where a surgeon removed the tumor, estimating she could not have lived longer than a few weeks more.
The Canadian government pays for U.S. medical care in some circumstances, but it declined to do so in de Vires’ case for a bureaucratically perfect, but inhumane, reason: She hadn’t properly filled out a form. At death’s door, de Vires should have done her paperwork better.
De Vires is far from unusual in seeking medical treatment in the U.S. Even Canadian government officials send patients across the border, increasingly looking to American medicine to deal with their overload of patients and chronic shortage of care.

Critics say these border crossings highlight the dangers of a government-run health care system.
“The Canadian healthcare system has used the United States as a safety net for years,” said Michael Turner of the Cato Institute. “In fact, overall about one out of every seven Canadian physicians sends someone to the United States every year for treatment.”
Neonatal intensive care units in Alberta and Ontario have also been stretched to capacity, she said.
The cost of these airlifts and treatments, paid to U.S. hospitals by the province under Canada’s universal health care system, runs upwards of $1,000 a child.

Willie

March 20th, 2009
4:10 am

Well since I started this at least part of it anyway I will add to my previous comments albeit to the chagrin of some of my Canadian brethren. I did tell you exactly what her diagnosis was prior to her autopsy coming out because as I stated earlier this is a textbook case, textbook. I am a physician and surgeon and I do know the Canadian system well and many of your physicians as they all leave as fast as they can from Canada to come down to the U.S. so they can make a living here in the U.S.. I am sorry that you are upset over your socialized system the only other bad news is the people that neglected to take care of Natasha will not be sued into oblivion like they would here for this neglect. That is right neglect this lady is dead and YOUR health care system is at least partly responsible and as you can see a lot of people know all about it and so do I. You see I lived in Michigan and Washington State and Buffalo during my training to be an orthopedic and spinal surgeon, about a total of 19 years including college and research, residency and fellowship years. All of those cities had programs set up to take care of the more affluent Canadians that did not want to wait 8 months to two years for a total joint or an organ transplant. To not have a hospital prepared to take care of serious injuries in proximity to a ski resort is laughable. By the way people who wear helmets get epidural bleeds and concussions too and wearing helmets is no excuse for not having adequate medical facilities. Governments (that includes the USA) cannot manage large sums or even moderate sums of money and they have proven that over and over but the hard core idiots cannot seem to get that through their heads. For example we just gave AIG bailout money to pay off bonuses to people that do not even work there anymore!! How STUPID is that?!?
I truly feel bad for Natasha and her family as this was a useless loss of life and the medical system is mostly to blame. DO NOT BLAME NATASHA ONLY COWARDS BLAME THE VICTIM. All patients when they feel better walk and talk and try to go about their business. The diagnostic period although short and unforgiving is there and she had it, she complained of headaches etc. but no one could act on it because they simply do not have the accommodations and they really should as they are at a ski resort where hundreds and thousands of people will fall every year and they should be prepared to take care of business and they are not and that is it. Typically there are protocols set up for these kinds of disasters because although not very common they do happen and the system should be prepared and clearly it is not. Had she gone to a clinic near the ski resort immediately they still could not have done anything as they plainly do not have the facilities and she would had to been flown somewhere and that takes time and you do not have that much time it has to be done on the timetable of the disease not some failed socialized half baked medical timetable
As far as me getting up in a room and telling people who are “educated” how bad this system is, I can assure you that I have absolutely no qualms or trepidations about telling the truth to anybody, anytime anywhere as there is no fear in my heart, none. The truth is what it is

Maria

March 20th, 2009
10:13 am

Willie, I’m asking this with the wide-eyed curiosity of a 2nd-year medical student. I was sucked in to this debate first by my curiosity about the Richardson case, as well as the interesting comments here. As intelligent and experienced as you are, with 19 years of medical training, why would you choose this forum to express your views? I agree with you on most of what you say, and it’s clear you feel very strongly about your beliefs – why then would you spend over an hour commenting on an article that not many people will read? I’m sure you’re an extremely busy person who understands the difference between activity and productivity. Do more productive means exist out there for physicians to express their concerns about our healthcare system? Without us, no one would have any healthcare in the first place. I suppose I’m just wondering… if this is your only place to vent your views and attempt to affect some change, what will practicing medicine be like for my generation?

tony

March 20th, 2009
12:00 pm

This is so unbelievably sad. She and Liam Neeson have been so classy with the way they have handled their careers and raised their children. Besides being an uncommonly talented actress, she was above all a beautiful and caring human being. She will be missed.

Willie

March 20th, 2009
1:21 pm

Maria what you say is somewhat correct but you have to have a real passion for this profession and as you will learn sometimes you just have to dialogue with people especially when your voracity is being challenged by uneducated lay people. There is nothing wrong with having an opinion even a wrong one and the internet is hit and miss for sure but people use it for education and you should add your voice to the discussion as you are educated. Right now you are studying the second year med school load and you seem to not have enough time and that is normal. However never be too busy to talk to people when you are in practice people especially patients as they need reassurance and just knowing that they can talk to their doctor is huge. I talk to patients all day about surgery and success and failure of treatment. All patients have my cell phone and home phone I am never unavailable to them. I have had seven spinal operations myself 4 on my neck and three on my back, I come from a family of seven physicians and surgeons and I have grown up around medicine my whole entire life. I went to U of M in Ann Arbor played football for Bo Schembechler and then went to Wayne State med school, I was a linebacker in college (part of the cause of the seven spine surgeries later in life) I have always been a fighter and stood up for what was right. The American people are being lied to, again, about health care. I have worked in all types of medical systems city hospitals at Detroit Receiving, County hospitals like LA County USC and LA County Martin Luther King, VA hospitals, and private hospitals well run and not well run.
A well run private hospital with academically oriented leadership is the best health care in the world period. They are provide great health care, they are profitable and provide jobs and a sense of pride for the entire community. By the way there is nothing wrong with making a good living while providing good care and do not let anyone tell you that there is something wrong with you making a good living that is total BS. Everybody wants to have first class health care from a committed physician and surgeon and those people cost money. Bright dedicated hard working people are not free, most of them had to borrow money to go to school and the people they borrowed money from want their money back plus interest.
I did my spine fellowship at William Beaumont in Royal Oak Michigan that is a great hospital and it does all of those things. As far as venting goes I am not venting I am teaching and if I saved just 1 life I did a good job and that is how I see it. The evidence i presented did not require that much time I am an experienced researcher I have written scientific papers, the evidence of this bad health care scenario is overwhelming and this was just a smidgeon of it.
On a personal side learn not to argue with people that know a lot more about something than you do and never insist that you are right when you are clearly wrong in addition to looking like a clown as a physician you will kill somebody. READ the literature most of these people do not read and they just listen to people tell lies and because it sounds good and because it supports their own political and social position they back it up. The Canadian health care system although well intentioned is a huge failure the man who invented it, Claude Castonguay said so himself!!! I mean how much more verification do you need? Now the system represents socialist hypocrisy because it cannot meet the BASIC needs of the people and emergency services are basic needs, and the system failed because it does not require what medicine compels the most RESPONSIBILITY. That is correct no one in the system has to be responsible and they do not want to be responsible because that would mean looking at what they have wrought on the Canadian people.
Finally it is my intention to pursue a law degree. I will do it over the internet. You do not know the depth of the depravity in health care. There is tremendous waste and abuse and I am talking about right here in the U.S. The politics of healthcare revolves around the love of money not truly earned and lies and the people are truly secondary and the physicians are considered as pest, people in the way of the “agenda”. I am just practicing my skills on the internet jury “presenting my case” as it were. When people see my real name I want them to tremble if they have mistreated a patient or a physician. I want their attorneys to tell their clients that “we need to settle if we can because this guy is the real deal and he means it. “
Good Luck Maria I am sure you will do fine just remember always be honest no matter how difficult it is and always be available and people will love you and respect you and you will feel great about your work and yourself.

Clark

March 21st, 2009
10:18 am

we are now seeing reports that Quebec does not have emergency helicopters …. is this deficit a result of having a nationalized health care system?