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HLA-B27, In no other country than United States!

About a month ago, I woke up with a funny feeling in my stomach. The following four days I experienced the worst fever of my life. Shivering and laying in my couch, and I was not able to do anything to stop it. But that was the easy part.

Couple days after that horrendous episode of fever, my knee started to swell along with an unmanageable back pain. For the first time in my life, I had to go to the Emergency Department. It was an average visit: 4 hours and couple hundreds of dollars (good luck if you don’t have insurance). This was still easy.

Then I started bouncing on and off between my primary care physician, the orthopedist and the infectious disease specialist for about three weeks. I had to go through all the classics tests: MRIs, X-Rays and a little blood work over here a little over there. Yes, this was the hard part. Not because all the unpleasant test or needles but because of lack of coordination, lack of empathy from healthcare providers, non-stop insurance and paper work. I am angry to the fact that the country that is spending the most per capita income on health can do such a lousy job in coordinating care. It is an absolute non-sense.

Then something amazing happened this afternoon then I decided to write this piece. Last week, I was tested for a gene called HLA-B27. This gene can cause autoimmune disease, which could lead to problems that fit my situation perfectly. Figuring this out doesn’t solve any of my problems, yet I feel extremely relieved. Finally, there is something tangible to build my case on.

Then as a healthcare professional, I started thinking about this more critically.

– In no other country than US, the coordination of private healthcare would be so time consuming, uncoordinated, and expensive.

– In no other country than US, healthcare providers would perform tests to only defend themselves against the slight chance of patient suing them in future. Hence “defensive medicice”.

– In no other country than US, it would be this hard for patients to reach their own medical records or test results.

At the same time,

– In no other county than US, the physicians would be equipped with this level of knowledge and the skepticism to diagnose such unlikely problem as in my situation.

– In no other country than US, you would have so much possibilities for treatment (conditional on whether you can afford it or not).

– In no other country than US, your physician would have such high level of confidence. I consider this as a good thing in my case.

Like all healthcare systems, US Healthcare has its ups and downs. Surely, it is a broken system due to its financial instability. But at the same time, US is still the hub of the leading technology and knowledge in medicine.


Image source: flickr

Murat Uralkan

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