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Letter to the Editor

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Letter to the Editor on "An Overview of Health Care Spending Patterns in the United States: Using National Data Sources to Explore Trends in Nursing Services"

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April 4, 2003
in response to An Overview of Health Care Spending Patterns in the United States: Using National Data Sources to Explore Trends in Nursing Services

Dear Editor:

I would like to respond to the article, "An Overview of Health Care Spending Patterns in the United States." I have been a nurse for 25 years and have seen many changes. I believe one of the changes that has increased the cost of health care is society's change in attitude toward life and end of life issues. I work in a hospital where frequently we provide extensive and expensive care to patients who have little or no chance of recovery. One patient, who is now in his ninth week of ICU care will, never leave the hospital. He has no family to make decisions for him. He has become our lingering patient, too sick to leave the ICU and not improving. We won't let him die, yet he cannot live. I know this is only one problem that contributes to our high cost of health care today; but such situations do take time, space, and money away from others who might have a chance to get better. This situation will get worse with aging baby boomers who want the latest and greatest technology to keep them alive. My question is: What are we willing and able to pay for living a little longer (and sicker) today, tomorrow, and down the road?

Sincerely,

Betty Lempke RN BSN
Medical-Surgical ICU
Massachusetts

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