Amalia and the Greek Medical Care System
"Greek bloggers mourn death of medical whistleblower--ATHENS (Reuters Life!) - Greek bloggers are mourning the loss of one of their own, a young Greek cancer patient whose adventures through the Greek medical system touched thousands, and are dedicating June 1 to her memory.
Amalia Kalyvinou, who died last week at the age of 30, had attracted many to her Internet Weblog [www.fakellaki.blogspot.com] with her stories about incompetent and corrupt doctors who failed to diagnose her for years or took financial advantage of her despair."
[Moderator's note: Amalia's blog in the above link is written in Greek.]
The story of Amalia is written in a blog (written in English) devoted to Amalia and titled "This One is for Amalia" The story is reproduced below.
Obviously, I have no factual information as to how dysfunctional is the Greek medical system, however if the public uproar upon this Greek lady's death has any significance, one may wonder if there isn't some more general truth to Amalia's writings. When the United States develops its healthcare system to enable everyone to have care, attention should be taken to ensure fairness, concern about patients as individuals and that everyone in the system follows the rules. ..Maurice.
Since the age of 8, Amalia Kalyvinou started having pains. Despite her numerous visits to doctors and several admissions to hospitals, no-one managed to diagnose her in time with the benign neurinoma of her lower extremity, which was the actual diagnosis at that point. 17 years later, Amalia was told that the neurinoma had transformed by then into a malignant tumour.
For the next 5 years, Amalia not only had to fight with the cancerous disease and amputation, but also with a corrupt Greek National Health System: it ignores (by choice) the ongoing patient-to-doctor bribery and insists on time-consuming bureaucratic methods and practices. Besides radiotherapy and chemotherapy, Amalia had to face the financial exploitation by doctors that stood opposite to rather than by her side. On top of her pain, she had to endure the greediness of private clinics and the exhaustingly long waiting queues of the health insurance system, in order to get legal approval for some ridiculously low financial compensation.
Amalia passed away on Friday, May the 25th, 2007. She was just 30 years old.
Before dying, she managed to document her experience and share it with us in her blog http://fakellaki.blogspot.com/. The promising literature graduate named in there each and every one of the doctors she had to bribe, praising at the same time the ones that honoured the Hippocratic Oath. Her testimony moved thousands of people that stood by her side all the way to the end.
"Amalia's main aim was to tell her story, so that she could awaken as many people and as many consciences as possible. She mainly wanted to show that there are ways to resist not only the self-regulation and authority of dishonest and heartless doctors, but also the bureaucrats of the Health System."
(Dikaia Tsavari & Georgia Kalyvinou – Amalia's mother & sister)
According to the Greek law, it is considered a major disciplinary offence for the doctors of the Greek National Health System to:
"Accept bonus and especially any compensation or property grant, for any medical service provided.”
Amalia Kalyvinou fought for things that are taken for granted in a modern European country. Unfortunately, this is not the case for Greece. Continuing Amalia’s effort where she left off, we protest in public and we demand:
* THE STATE TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION TO STOP BRIBERY AND THE INEQUALITY BROUGHT IN THE TREATMENT OF PATIENTS.
* THE NATIONAL HEALTH COMMITTEE TO BE MORE FLEXIBLE SO AS PATIENTS STOP FALLING VICTIMS TO TIME-CONSUMING BUREAUCRATIC PROCESSES.
* THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH TO ENSURE STRICTER CONTROL ON THE RELATION OF DRUG COMPANIES – MEDICAL SERVICE.
* FULL UTILISIZATION OF CURRENTLY ABANDONED HOSPITAL INFRASTRUCTURE. CONTINUOUS AND COMPLETE SCIENTIFIC TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT FOR DOCTORS AND NURSES.
* CREATION OF A NATION-WIDE ELECTRONIC MEDICAL RECORD SYSTEM, TO SPEED UP PROMPT DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
LET’S END THE HYPOCRISY OF THE ONES THAT GOVERN, WHO PREFER TO ALLOW DOCTORS TO BE BRIBED BY THEIR PATIENTS, INSTEAD OF PROVIDING THEM WITH A DECENT SALARY.
* NO MORE BRIBERY
* NO MORE BUREAUCRACY
* NO MORE LIES
WE DEMAND FREE AND EFFICACIOUS HEALTHCARE SERVICES FOR ALL.
[Moderator's note: Thanks to J.Nannou for the e-mail headsup on the story.]