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October 9, 2009

What I learned from my annual physical: Rationing, records, red blood

At my annual physical today I learned three things, in addition to the fact that I seem to be basically healthy:

1. My doctor told me that as someone over 50 years old (I’m 58), I should not get a swine flu inoculation. See, we’re already rationing medicine, the damn socialists! Of course. We always have. At least flu shots are being rationed by doctors, not by insurance companies. Rationing is the only reasonable response in a world of non-infinite resources.

2. The health center I go to has an extensive electronic record of my health, but it is designed around billing, not around my health. For example, I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes a few years ago. (I no longer have that diagnosis. Amazing what losing 40lbs and not eating sugar can do for you.) When my doctor tried to look up when he had made that diagnosis, he had to instead look for when he first prescribed an anti-diabetes drug. The electronioc record knows about which drugs I was prescribed, but doesn’t think of diabetes as something worth noting. Eventually my doctor found that diagnosis in a note of some sort, but if I were brought unconscious into an emergency room that got access to my electronic record, the attending George Clooneys would not easily see that I might have a problem with sugars.

3. I asked my doctor for my blood type because when I jog I carry a little health card with me, so as strangers are picking over my remains, they can see that I have no known allergies and thus they should feel free to test out new drugs on me. My doctor doesn’t have my blood type recorded and was puzzled that I’d want to know. It’s a residue of my youth when children were supposed to prominently write their blood type in lipstick on their foreheads in case they were trampled by a dinosaur. These days, apparently they just type you on the spot, before they steal your wallet and test out new drugs on your remains. Good to know!