What is the most important health care support service, and what would be the effects on peoples' lives if it were unavailable?
"Healthcare support services" covers many different activities within a hospital or other medical or health care clinic. Those services range from bookkeeping and insurance-approval processing to cleaning, linen supply, patient transport and processing patients in and out of a hospital or clinic. These are all essential to the effective operation of any health care facility of any size. Among the more important in terms of direct patient care would be patient transport, laboratory operations, infection control, and equipment acquisition and maintenance.
Patient transport can range from simply ferrying patients from home to a rehabilitation facility to emergency response units (ambulance services, paramedics, etc.). Obviously, were these services to disappear, then many people would die or suffer permanent injury for lack of prompt medical attention.
Laboratory operations are essential for analyzing blood, urine, and other specimen for bacteriological infections that are the cause of patient illness. Especially in the case of infectious diseases, the elimination of laboratory technicians would result in serious diseases going undiagnosed and, consequently, untreated. Which brings us to,
Infectious disease control, which is growing in importance -- and it has always been extremely important -- is vital to both the patient and to the public at large. With the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the ability to identify and control the spread of infectious diseases is more important than at any time since the discovery of pencillin in 1928. Also, incidences of staph infection pose a threat to already ill patients recovering from life-threatening surgery. Control of the bacteria that cause staph infection is important to the health of all hospital patients. The elimination of support services that specialize in infection control would threaten everybody.
Finally, hospital and clinic staff responsible for acquiring and maintaining equipment, especially complex diagnostic equipment like magnetic resonance imaging machines, are essential for the care of patients. Their elimination would allow many serious illness like tumors and blood clots to go undiagnosed.