Critics claim deluxe treatment for the rich hurts patients


Leading US hospitals are seeing an influx of visiting royalty, politicians, sports stars, business people and celebrities for whom money is no object, when getting medical treatment.

Critics of VIP treatment argue the practice hurts both the providers and other patients, and to effectively do their jobs, hospital bosses and employees must resist pressure to treat such patients differently. There is a balance between extra revenue and allowing patients to dictate the rules.

Some places have gone out of their way to create facilities for wealthy and powerful VIP patients as numbers who travel to and within the USA increase. But few have protocols for what is and what is not acceptable behaviour by both parties.

News reports in other hospitals include cases where patients were allowed to receive routine medications from personal aides, contrary to hospital regulations, and employees took thousands of dollars in gratuities. VIP syndrome is where patients demand actions that contravene normal hospital protocols. Examples include a minor royal with an infection who brought a personal chef and seven attendants- and then successfully demanding that doctors and nurses take off protective gowns, as protocol required for everyone’s safety. His personal aides were permitted to give him routine medications although this too was against protocol.

Cleveland Clinic has nine protocols for treating VIPs that establish numerous behaviours to avoid, including accepting gifts, bending the rules for such patients or bringing in department heads to treat them rather than a lower-ranking but more relevant doctor.

Cleveland Clinic gets celebrities, royalty, and political leaders so staff and administrators have to resist pressures to change usual clinical protocols that protect patients and staff. The VIP entourage, used to getting demands met at places however strange they are, often take umbrage when hospitals refuse to accept their unqualified advice on what drugs and treatment their VIP needs.

Some hospitals have special floors or sealed off areas for VIPs, to protect their privacy and safety but few have protocols for VIPs. While it is normal for hospitals and doctors to lay down the rules on care and treatment, VIPs are used to making their own rules - so hospitals have to balance how far they go - against the risk of losing substantial revenue.

Almost everybody wants to live healthily for as long as possible and VIPs have the money to seek new and innovative treatment. This brings a dilemma for hospitals in how far they offer untried and untested treatment to save a VIP who may otherwise die or be ill.

With the super - rich getting richer and increasing in numbers, VIP medical tourism is on the rise - but with drawbacks for hospitals.



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