Monday, July 27, 2009

Social Health

3 weeks into medicine now and things are pretty busy, but I'm having a lot of fun and learning a lot. I'm still missing a lot of the knowledge, but I definitely feel more comfortable around the hospital and with patients. One thing I've noticed though is how important social situation is to health. Yeah, it seems obvious, but working in the hospital really opened my eyes about it. Of the dozens of patients I've seen, only two of them have a stable living situation. The major reason behind this is lack of access to healthcare. People who are living stable lives likely have the resources to take care of their health and even if they have a problem that can't be prevented (like a genetic clotting disorder), they can keep a close eye on it and live a relatively healthy life that doesn't require them to be hospitalized much. People who have unstable social situations have bigger things to worry about than why their stomach hurts when they eat or why they're slowly starting to turn yellow. They don't catch their clotting disorder until they get a large clot in a major vessel (i.e. the portal vein) and get life-threatening (and much more costly) health problems like losing their liver. A little early education and a $4 a month drug could have prevented a hospital stay of several hundred thousand dollars and a death in the 20's.

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