One Child's Fatal Encounter with Public Health and Private Greed
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 In this riveting account of how one child died at the hands of the health-care system that would save her, Bing brings to light a mechanism gone wild with greed and obscured by the silence of knowing collaborators. In the preface to her account of the Scheck family's disastrous encounter with a for-profit psychiatric facility, journalist Bing (Do or Die, 1991; Smoked, 1993) makes it clear that, having worked for a while in a drug-rehab program, she has firsthand knowledge of just how two-faced, how lacking in facilities, and how poorly staffed that system can be. Christy Scheck's hanging death while interned at a facility owned by National Medical Enterprises (NME) began with a system that made its diagnosis based on the bottom line: the availability and extent of the patient's insurance. The tomboyish 13-year-old, whose close relationship with her father, based on her athleticism, was being disrupted by her maturation, claimed he had sexually molested her-- a lie which became the currency that bought her needed attention once she was cut off from her own family by the facility's undertrained staff. Incorrectly prescribed drugs, the encouragement to embellish her lies, and inadequate staffing all culminated in Christy's suicide. Her case was not unique. NME finally fell in the early '90s--suffering roughly $80 billion in losses--brought down by lawsuits by the Schecks and other families and patients who had suffered from NME's corrupt practices at facilities from coast to coast. Bing makes clear how human damage can be perpetrated by any institution that sees profit before real care. This is a devastating account in which facts fall like dominoes. It should alert us to the dangers of centralized institutions that have taken leave of their senses. Unforgettable. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-679-44841-1
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1997


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