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Tag Archives: medical

There’s no hospitality in hospitals

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I don’t get headaches. I’m 42 years old and thankfully I’ve never suffered of headaches. Yes, I’ve gotten a couple of sinus headaches, but otherwise nothing, nada, zilch. Usually I don’t blog about health topics, but the reality is that gratefully, I have nothing to talk about. Until now… *queue suspenseful music*

The other day I was running around, as usual, and I started getting a headache. Which on its own stands out because I don’t get headaches. An hour passed. A couple of hours. I took a couple of ibuprofen’s and nothing. More time passed and his headache just got worse. It felt like there was a piano sitting on my head. It was horrible. Nothing I did helped, it just got worse. Now it’s midnight. I’m dead tired. Its been hours and I’m feeling nauseous. I can’t sleep. I can’t work. All I can do is sit in pain and hope my head did not explode.

So, I sought out help. I went to the emergency room as most doctors will tell you is proper protocol when you have “the worst headache of your life” which I did.  Even with the ridiculously high threshold for pain that I have, the pain was so severe I was nauseous.  I’ll skip to the part where yes, it was a migraine, my first one and it was fierce!!  This evil thing wanted its presence to be known and was not going to be ignored… I on the other hand was.

I sauntered in with my PPO to an empty emergency room and thought great! I will be seen quickly! I was triaged within moments and promptly placed in a room and in a lovely hospital gown.  The nurse asked me a couple of questions and told me that the doctor would be in momentarily.  Meanwhile I continued to work because distraction was the only thing keeping me sane, and I was keeping my husband updated via text.  And I sat there in my gown, relived that I was going to receive help.

Ah, but what I didn’t know was that Northwest Community Hospital did not read from the same protocol book that I, and many doctors did.  Apparently the course of action for someone that comes into this hospital with the worst headache of their life is to stick them in a room, and leave them there to rot indefinitely.

After sitting in the room for an hour and fifteen minutes and literally NO ONE coming in to see me, check on me, see if I was breathing, had passed out from an aneurysm or to even tell me that they were too busy laughing and gossiping to tend to me, I got dressed and walked out.  Thankfully my headache had subsided.  As this was my first experience with a migraine I don’t know if it’s because it was time for my headache to subside, or if it was the OUTRAGE of being put in a room and ignored.  I mean really.  IT’S THE WORST HEADACHE OF MY LIFE!

As I was leaving I told registration and the triage nurse that I was leaving because no one would see me, but I wanted to be sure that neither my insurance nor I would be charged, and that I wanted something in writing.  They offered me a “Refusal of Service” form, which I explained was not the case.  I was not refusing service, they were not offering me any service so I was leaving.  AT NO TIME did anyone ask me how I was, if my headache had corrected, if I wanted to see someone right away, nor did they even offer to rty to fin someone to see me.  Even now, as I’m typing this I am furious by the irresponsibility of this hospital.

What if I had died?  Or had a stroke?  What then?  And this was not because I am uninsured, I have a PPO!!! So why did I spend an hour in the room without any medical attention?  Apparntly I will never know.  After speaking to the Director of the Emergency Room the following day, I was told “all the right things”. every phrase you would want to hear after an experience like that, “so sorry”, “I can’t imagine what happened”, “I will investigate”, blah, blah, blah.  Meanwhile the patient advocate wasn’t really advocating for me at all.  Apparently she wasn’t interested in my being a patient there either, or I don’t know the meaning of advocate, because she was rude and couldn’t care less about my complaint.  I also called the state to file a complaint, but they didn’t care either.  It’s a wait time and they don’t get involved with that.  But here’s my question… if I (American, speak perfect English, well insured) was ignored and essentially denied service at an emergency room – albeit through omission – what happens to someone that is uninsured? Or that doesn’t speak English?  Who’s to say that if I have a real emergency they wouldn’t just let me die?

Scary.

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That’s why it’s called “practice”

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George Carlin said it best, “Isn’t it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do “practice”?

I’m not here to bash the medical industry, or to point out what a study found several years ago, that pharmaceutical companies spend more money on marketing than on research and from my many contacts and friends in the medical field.  Nor will I point out that as soon as we saw the commercials for the magic pills that cure everything from being too inactive to being too active many people started shopping doctors, looking for the ones with the loosest scripts.

What I would like to talk about is finding the healthcare that’s right for you, whether it’s just you, your parents or your kids.  You need to have a level of comfort with your doctor.  It’s your body (still right?  that didn’t change overnight did it?), you know how much time/effort you or whomever the patient is able/willing to invest, and there are options.

This is what I mean. Prior to becoming pregnant, I did my annual physical, y ya!  Thankfully there wasn’t more to it, so practically anyone could handle that.  And I hated doctors.  Actually feared them a bit.  Then… I became pregnant and was forced to find a doctor with whom I was going to have a relationship with.  For those of you who haven’t had a baybe, it’s an intimate process.  Plus, for your first pregnancy you have a lot of questions and occasionally those questions, feelings or concerns could sound a little… crazy, so you need an OBGYN that will answer your crazy questions without letting on that he or she is secretly laughing a bit and thinking, “oh those silly 1st timers”.  In my case, I wanted my OBGYN to deliver my babies, versus going to a practice where you are shuffled around from doctor to doctor.  Apparently this is hard to come by, but I persevered. I asked other moms, my regular doctor, other doctors until I found “the one”.  Really, he’s great.  Delivered both babies and even noticed my pedi during delivery 😉

Same with pediatricians.  While still pregnant I started interviewing other parents and my OBGYN for suggestions.  Then I made an appointment with the pediatrician’s office.  Many pediatrician’s offices are accustomed to this, and you really should meet them because when you baby is born or sick, is not the right time to find out you picked a quack – and believe me, they’re out there.  Here are some questions I asked which you may want to consider:

  • Is the pediatrician you’re going to see covered by your insurance? Sometimes the practice is, but not certain all doctors in the practice.  I know, odd, but true.
  • Do they have before/after work appointment times? What about weekends?
  • Is there a charge to page the doctor on call? First time parents, this means that at 1am, when your baby is doing something unfamiliar and you’re not sure whether or not you should freak out you can get in touch with your pediatrician or someone from there to give you advice before you haul yourself to the ER for no reason.
  • Make sure the pediatrician’s beliefs are something that you are comfortable with on topics like antibiotics and vaccines.  Yes, there are standard practices, but trust me, some doctors are waaay more liberal with medicines than others and there are some doctors that agree with spacing out vaccines more than others.
  • What about sick visits? You wake up on Monday morning and your child is sick, can you get a same day appointment?

You want to be sure that you have chosen doctors whose decision you are comfortable with. And no matter what don’t ever hesitate to get a 2nd opinion. Be it for yourself, your children.  It’s your right and well-being we’re talking about here.  Get informed, ask questions and if something doesn’t sound right, get a second opinion!  Doctor’s can be a great ally, but remember, they are people too.  They are not infallible and as one doctor put it, once your out of medical school, it’s hard to stay updated on everything.  And many doctors still don’t prescribe to holistic treatments or CAM‘s, so shop around, the right doctor is out there for you!

XOXO

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