Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Medical Horror Stories

Doug, friend of BlueGal, has a blog that I’ve been following lately. He has some really decadent food entries and political leanings that are like mine (surprise, surprise!) and – what the heck – if he’s smart enough for BlueGal to like him he must be ok. At any rate, he is also a medical doctor and has a little contest going asking for “Medical horror stories, medical success stories, hearsay, can-you-believe-its”. So I figured this would be time for two of my favorite medical stories.

First Medical Object Lesson: Doctors can be greedy bastards.

It’s January and we are getting ready to move to our new house. The movers are coming day after tomorrow and it snowed last night so after work we get to go out to the house and shovel the driveway. All is well and good until I hit the top of the drive where the down slope begins. It’s icy underfoot and I go down. Wrist hurts like hell so I sit in the house on the floor while Marc finishes shoveling and we stop at St. Francis Hospital on the way home.

The orthopedic resident on duty is called to the ER and he sets my broken radius and cracked ulna and thumb base. I am instructed to call a specific orthopedic surgeon for follow up, which I do. Eventually the cast is removed and then I get the Explanation of Benefits from my insurance company. Being a naïve soul, obviously, I called the surgeon’s office about the line item “Emergency Room Care”. I didn’t see the guy until 3 weeks later at his office. I’m told that since he assumed responsibility for my care he is entitled to the fee.
I felt this wasn’t right. I wrote a letter explaining the time line of care to BC/BS and the state medical society complaining about Dr. X’s collecting a fee for Emergency Room Care. Eventually I got a letter telling me he had “reconsidered collecting” the fee. Greedy bastard.

Second Medical Object Lesson: Doctors can be heartless bastards.

When we lived in Nashua Marc had a prolapsed intestine – it’s like a hose turning inside out on itself and is (1) painful as hell and (2) deadly. If your intestine cannot function you get gangrene and die a slow and painful death. We went to the area hospital and sat for about 3 hours in the ER. He was in pain and started going into shock – clammy, pale, shivering. I went to the nurses’ station and made someone come and triage him since he had only talked to the check-in clerk. He made it into a treatment room ASAP (score 1 for me).
Then the doc ambled in and tried to reduce the prolapse manually (Marc’s had an ileostomy since 1948 – the intestine is accessible). He didn’t administer any painkiller or muscle relaxant – just tried to manhandle it. My husband is in pain, shocky and scared and this guy is rough, gruff and tells him to “be a man, will ‘ya?” I sailed around that curtain and laid into him so fast he didn’t know I was coming. I demanded he leave the room and another surgeon be sent it. I was NOT allowing this person to treat my husband. 

Within 15 minutes another doctor appeared. He sized up the situation medically, started an IV antibiotics and pain meds and then talked to me. I told him the entire story of our experience at the hospital up to that minute. He reassured me and sent me home. Marc was going into surgery immediately. He called me after surgery and told me not to come in to the hospital until that afternoon, but to get back to sleep and come see Marc when he was awake.

I found out from the nurses that afternoon the second doctor was the head of surgery and the president of the hospital board. The first doctor was his brother. I was a local hero because the first doctor was a known prick who was only complained about – never taken down. Heartless jerk bastard.

Moral of the above stories? Stand up for yourself and your loved ones. Don’t let “the establishment” kick you around.

I have a couple of good medical stories but they’ll have to wait for another time. I have stuff to do today – like go to a different agency in the hope of finding some work. This is getting really tedious and I wish I could win the lottery so I wouldn’t have to worry about our finances. Poor investments make for a poor lifestyle. Of course, who knew that our stocks would decide to tank?

Blessings on all.

p.s. I know not ALL docs are greedy or heartless. In fact I've had the honor of being treated by and of working with some really fine docs and nurses. But these two came to mind first and I'm in a hurry. Remind me to someday talk about Winsted Hospital (Winsted CT) and Dr. Richard S. Dutton, Dr. Johann Bratt, Dr. Lydia McLure, Dr. Ken Patterson....... Have a good one!

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