Very recently, I had the opportunity to again observe our health care system at work and came away believing that the greatest threat comes from how we abuse it.
I was sent to an ER – not SOGH – on short notice by my GP to receive a transfusion comprising two units of whole blood. Because the ER was at capacity – really busy – I was parked in a reclining chair in the middle of the facility.
My GP called me just before noon and told me to go to the ER because of the results of tests conducted that same morning. I drove myself to the hospital, was pushed through the normal registration, waited outside the ER for about five minutes, went through the eight-hour procedure, and drove myself home as the sun was setting. Nine different medical professionals were involved in my care, some for a few minutes in total, some for a few minutes several times. Neither of the two MD’s on duty in the ER had either the time or the need to attend to me – if needed, they would have. I was hooked to an IV on one side and continuous monitoring technology on the other side. The system will pay. I will not have to pay any more than I already pay in taxes and premiums. This is a positive example of our health care system at work.
But, in my ringside seat that I could not leave, though I rested with my eyes closed most of the time, my ears were open. Three ambulance cases came in. One patient arrived on foot having been asked to return at a specific time for a specific treatment and, though he was four hours late, he was treated immediately upon arrival. Most of the others were being held in the waiting room, triaged, and seen accordingly. Some would spend the night, some were treated and released, some were reassured and released. One was given a requisition for tests and told when the facility was open for routine visits. One left by ambulance. One was taken by the mortician.
Compassionate as I am, I offered one of them my good finger – well, almost, but I wanted to. None were admonished. Some should have been.
Take the case of the teacher who was attended by an MD in a chair beside me – there being no beds. She complained bitterly that the hospital receptionist had the gall to remind her of the expense of an ER visit, and then she complained about having to wait outside the ER for three hours, and then she showed the doctor her finger that had been grabbed by one of her students earlier in the day. He was solicitous but not impressed. He was attentive but not concerned. He suggested an ice pack and self-monitoring but gave in to a demand for an x-ray to be done by a tech who would have to be called in given that it was now early evening. Awaiting the tech, the patient complained loudly enough for all to hear that the system was failing us – all of us.
Bullshit – you should know better. Thank goodness there were no children present.