Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

Bluff The Listener

Our panelists tell three stories about health care in the UK.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

CARL KASELL, HOST:

From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Paula Poundstone, Alonzo Bodden and Nick Hancock. And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

Thank you, Carl.

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SAGAL: Thanks everybody. Right now it is time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Now, we're trying something a little different in this special year in review show. We're going to play with a member of our studio audience. We're going to give them the chance to be lied to by our panelists.

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SAGAL: Carl, who's our player?

KASELL: Peter, it's Kathryn Hailey of Chicago.

SAGAL: Here we go, come on up.

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SAGAL: Hello, Kathryn, how are you?

KATHRYN HAILEY: Great. How are you?

SAGAL: I'm fine. Nice to see you.

HAILEY: Nice to see you, too.

SAGAL: You dressed very warmly. That's appropriate.

HAILEY: It's Chicago.

SAGAL: I know.

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SAGAL: That sweater looks like it was made from an entire animal.

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SAGAL: It's great. Did you kill and harvest it yourself?

HAILEY: Yes.

SAGAL: I know, that's how we roll in Chicago. That's what I like about living here.

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SAGAL: You're going to play the game in which you have to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Kathryn's topic?

KASELL: We can't afford anaesthetic, but take this spoonful of sugar.

SAGAL: So Britain's National Health Service, of course, has a bad reputation here in the United States. We hear about the long lines and the over-reliance on leeches and tonics and nostrums. But it turns out that British National Health does create innovation. Each of our panelists is now going to tell you about a brilliant new idea that came out of the British National Health, across the pond. Guess that true story; you will win Carl's voice on your voicemail. You ready to play?

HAILEY: I'm ready.

SAGAL: Okay. Let us hear first from Alonzo Bodden.

ALONZO BODDEN: Rural hospitals ask vets to help out. In the rural areas of Britain, there are too few doctors, leading to long lines and waits up to months for important procedures. However, you know what rural Britain still has a lot of? Veterinarians.

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BODDEN: It seems many rural areas are not serviced by any local hospitals, and doctors can't make house calls. Veterinarians, however, routinely travel to these places. The veterinarians seem to be onboard with the plan, saying they've been stitching up farmers' kids for years and it's about time they were respected as medical professionals and paid for their services. They also seem rather excited to finally have patients that can tell them what's wrong.

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BODDEN: Now, everyone seems happy with this plan except the actual patients. One woman complained that when she called about her child's upset stomach, the vet's first reaction was suggesting she try feeding the child grass.

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BODDEN: Another mother complained that her child's rash was treated with a full body flea dip.

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BODDEN: An ear-infected young boy was embarrassed at having to go to school with a giant paper cone tied around his neck.

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BODDEN: And the most outrageous complaint was after diagnosing her son's leg fracture, the vet asked her if she wanted to try setting the bone or just put him down.

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BODDEN: After hearing these and many other complaints, the administrators agreed there are still a few bugs to be worked out of this system.

SAGAL: All right, rural hospitals calling on veterinarians to treat human animals. That's from Alonzo Bodden. Your next story of something new in health comes from Nick Hancock.

NICK HANCOCK: A National Health Service hospital has been forced into an embarrassing climb down after a new initiative was rejected by elderly patients. In an attempt to free up beds, the weak and elderly have been encouraged to spend their day in a separate room, away from the main activities, mirroring Christmas day in homes across the globe.

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HANCOCK: Nurses at Cardiff Royal Infirmary quickly realized that the pensioners were too far away for them to hear any cries for help, and put emergency procedures into place. Each patient was supplied with their own tambourine to bang if they got into difficulties.

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HANCOCK: "It's ridiculous," said one resident, "these people are pensioners, not members of the Monkees or Mick Jagger."

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HANCOCK: And he's right, they're far too young, for one thing.

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HANCOCK: In its defense, the hospital pointed out that it had taken many precautions. Some reports even mentioned patients were given a pair of maracas in case one of the tambourines malfunctioned.

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HANCOCK: The director eventually relented. The hospital now has a bell and the world's oldest garage band.

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SAGAL: All right.

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SAGAL: Tambourines and musical instruments used to summon help in a British home. That's from Nick Hancock. Your last story of a British medical breakthrough comes from Paula Poundstone.

PAULA POUNDSTONE: The British health care system has taken remote medicine a step further. Tech savvy patients send highly produced films to their doctors. Sydney Marvell made a video showing his doctor progress in the healing of his broken femur, in lieu of an inconvenient follow-up visit. He added a slow motion shot of himself, supported by crutches, making his way across the threshold of his kitchen with a soundtrack from "Chariots of Fire."

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POUNDSTONE: He included hand puppets discussing the break while viewing the x-ray. "It's coming along nicely," says a googly-eyed oven mitt.

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POUNDSTONE: "Probably healing faster than the grill of the truck that hit him," admires the matching mitt. Dr. Phillip Jontaus says he looked at so many such videos, the idea for the "Feeling Better Every Day" film festival popped into his head.

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POUNDSTONE: "We hope to make it an annual event," says Jontaus. "Many of the films are quite brilliant, really. And from a health standpoint, I believe a tremendous amount of healing is fostered by the joy the patients get from making the films. You get the occasional case that goes bad, the blood clot victim that probably should have come in for a visit."

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POUNDSTONE: "But they still leave behind a compelling film."

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SAGAL: So, this is what we have. From Alonzo Bodden, we have veterinarians being pressed into service, to sometimes good effect. From Nick Hancock, we have tambourines and maracas being used as a device to summon help in British hospitals. And from Paula Poundstone, a disease symptom video film festival.

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SAGAL: A new art form arising out of illness. Which of these do you think might be the real story?

HAILEY: Well, we once tried to get our neighbor, who was an anesthesiologist to sedate our dog.

SAGAL: Really?

HAILEY: And that didn't work.

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HAILEY: I'm going to go with the tambourines.

SAGAL: You're going to go with the tambourines. All right, you have chosen Nick Hancock's story.

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SAGAL: Of, in fact, the tambourine alert system in a British hospital. To get the correct answer, let us hear from someone familiar with the real story.

DES KITTO: They had replaced a call bell which was broken with a tambourine, and we were contacted by relatives of a patient who had two broken wrists.

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SAGAL: That was Des Kitto. He is the deputy chief officer at Cardiff and Vale of Glamorgan Community Health Council. I think that's a hospital. Congratulation, Kathryn, you got it right. Well done. You've won Carl's voice on your voicemail and a point for Nick Hancock.

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SAGAL: Well done, Kathryn.

HAILEY: Thank you.

SAGAL: Thank you for being with us.

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