Slow erosion of our freedoms

March 29, 2010

Many people have noticed just how our rights have been eroded away over the decades. Bit by bit, our rights and liberties have been removed while restrictions to our lives have been added.

You can’t smoke in public parks, children must be harnessed in a certain kind of car seat, it’s illegal to park on your own street for more than one hour in the cities, dogs must be leashed, it’s illegal to drive while on the cell phone, you can only water your lawn certain days, new homes must be built with sprinkler systems, it’s illegal to remove a “heritage” tree from your own property, in Pacific Grove it is illegal to kill a butterfly, and of course, the California Democratic legislators still want to pass mandatory state-run health care.

In the world of health care, examples of our loss of rights are experienced everyday by everyone – even with private insurance and particularly in the areas of parenting and abuse.

Anytime a parent takes a child to the doctor with an injury, medical office staff ask about the nature of the injury. No, they pry, often dissatisfied with the mother’s answer.

A close friend of mine has three young boys under age 11. Can you imagine the boo boo’s, illnesses and injuries she is faced with? Recently her youngest son, a tough little 3-year old, was at a babysitter’s home. When the sitter wasn’t looking he climbed up on her bed and started jumping. Just as she caught him, he fell and conked his head on the corner post of the bed frame, cutting his eyebrow.

Hardly an unusual childhood injury, but the doctor and nursing staff grilled the mother for hours, trying to get her to say the babysitter deliberately hurt the toddler. Since the injury last week, the doctor’s office has called daily and sent mail to her, still trying to get her to come clean on the injury.

Even bruises are now suspicious. As an easy bruiser myself, to a medical care provider, I probably look as if I am a spousal abuse victim.  I always have a cauliflower bruise somewhere on my body. Family members call me “Grace” because I am known for being a klutz. With klutziness come injuries, falls, bruises, cuts, scrapes, and abrasions.  But for my friend, it’s another experience altogether. The doctor wants to call Child Protective Services on her or her husband because her boys have bruises… and cuts… and scrapes… and abrasions.

Even the California Health Code § 1233.5 requires medical clinics to screen patients for domestic violence. Public schools are also required to “screen” kids for signs of domestic violence.

According to Pediatrics, the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, “The leading major causes of injury in children in descending order are falls, poisoning, transportation, foreign body, and fires/burns. The overall rate of the major category of falls exceeded poisoning, the second leading cause of injury, by a factor of 2.”

So why do medical professionals make patients feel like criminals?

Even more specifically, the Pediatrics journal writes, “Pedestrian injury was the leading specific cause of injury for all age groups from 36 to 47 months. Fall from furniture has the highest rates of specific causes of falls from age 3 to 47 months. Fall from stairs peaked at age 6 to 8 months and 9 to 11 months.”

Nothing has changed in decades other than the law. Kids fall down and boys fight. But now mothers put helmets on their kids’ heads, and knee, elbow and wrist pads before they go out to play, trying to avoid the inevitable.

People get bruises, scrapes, and cuts. However, every time I go to my doctor, I am grilled about how I got whatever bruise I am sporting.

A few years ago I fell down the uncarpeted stairs in my house – head first. I was running down the stairs, slipped and bumped my way down ten stairs. I had deep bruises for five months on my legs, arms and hips. Visiting my doctors’ office one day during this period, a nurse went ballistic and demanded to speak to my husband. She did not believe that I “fell” (wink, wink) down our stairs even though the bruise locations were consistent with stairs.  If I were 11 months old, I could have referred the nurse to the Pediatrics journal.

Women having babies are convinced by their doctor to have a Cesarean section instead of giving birth naturally – because doctors can control the outcome easier. Thanks to lawyers, C-sections are up 53 percent since 1996. The New York Post did a story last December about the increasing C-sections and found, “The bigger factor boosting C-sections, however, is doctors’ pushing the surgery on their patients for fear of malpractice lawsuits, according to critics.”

Avoiding complications during birth is the number one goal for doctors today. Doctors are often sued if they did not perform a C-section. Naturally, they are concerned about having a bad outcome.

Your body is not your own – the government has intruded in your medical care already, even before nationalized health care is the law of the land.

–Katy Grimes

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