What’s Bugging Me About American Healthcare Today…
Maybe I’m just in a cranky mood because I’m sick today and feel like picking on things, but there may actually be some truth to the claims I am about to make. As always, it is for you to decide.
Two nights ago, my 5-year-old daughter began to run a fever out of nowhere. One minute, she’s jumping around on a trampoline at a place called Tumbletown with boundless energy, and by the time she gets home, she’s got the chills and is feverish. Apparently, the stuffy nose she’d had for several days was not due to allergies, but was actually a warning of something a little more sinister brewing. So I give her some fever-reducing medicine and dress her warmly for bed, thinking (hoping) she will feel better by morning. But, no.
A few hours later, I am greeted by an upset little girl who has just vomited all over her bed and herself. She is feeling much worse and when I read the thermometer, I am alarmed. Giving her more anti-fever medication only makes the vomiting start again, so I am at a loss as to what to do. A call to the doctor sends us to the emergency room.
Despite the fact that the emergency room is empty, we are forced to wait. I fill out a bunch of forms, and we wait some more. I stand in front of the empty registration desk so someone way in the back might see me, and wait even longer. Finally, we are taken back and the process begins. A nurse takes vital signs at the registration desk, along with asking me for all the information I just filled out on the forms. It’s after 1am and my daughter is crying and uncomfortable.
When finished with this step, we are taken to a small room in the back and wait some more until another nurse comes in and asks what has brought us to the emergency room (for the third time). I again explain the details of what my daughter has experienced and how we are there because our family doctor told us to come, and then she leaves. And we wait some more. She returns, finally, with a doctor and says, “Can you tell the doctor why you brought your daughter here tonight?” I could hardly believe it!
The doctor examines my daughter and tells the nurse to give her a medication to combat the nausea. During the examination, my daughter winces when her ear is touched and I comment that she made no mention of her ear hurting at home. This is the only thing said by anyone about my daughter’s ear.
Over an hour later, the doctor comes back and says she will be prescribing an antibiotic before we leave. Her father and I ask her what it will be for, what’s wrong with her? “For her ear infection, of course.” We look at each other in disbelief and nearly in unison say to the doctor, “You never told us she had an ear infection,” at which point, a polite disagreement ensues. Ultimately, the doctor admitted she didn’t actually say it, she thought I already knew because of my comment.
Puh-leeze… I’m lucky I understood any of her comments! I’m sure her credentials are fine, or else she would not be allowed to practice in my local hospital with a fine reputation, and she was very pleasant to my daughter, but both her father and I had to struggle to understand her version of English. We’re talking health issues here, I’d like to be able to understand the instructions she was giving me regarding the two different medications she prescribed and the timing, dosing, etc. And knowing she had another ear infection was important because of my daughter’s history with ear infections and the possibility that she may have to have her adenoids removed if they continue. No, she couldn’t have known this, but it seems like Doctor-Common-Sense 101 to make sure to tell the parents the diagnosis.
It took a total of 2½ hours on a quiet night in an emergency room to take care of something relatively minor (I think). Every time I poked my head out of the room we were in, I could see the staff (including the doctor) congregating around the main desk, casually talking, moving around slowly.
I know… Moms are biased when it comes to the treatment of their children and this whole story could be written with a slant. But tell me this: why are prescription drugs so expensive? Could it be because drug companies constantly advertise products that we cannot purchase without a doctor-written prescription? Does this make any sense? Don’t you think this promotes self-diagnosis? Think about it – you watch the commercial, you decide, “Hey, I think I need that product and will ask my doctor about it like the commercial advises.” Now, instead of your doctor deciding what is best for you, you have succumbed to marketing tactics just like every other product uses. You can pick up your prescription right after that burger or new pair of shoes that the preceding commercials convinced you you needed, too.
And while we’re talking “Healthcare”, why isn’t Dental Care considered healthcare? (Don’t stop me, the crank-o-meter is in high gear now :-) It has always astounded me why teeth are not considered a part of the body like everything else. They have their own separate system of care, one that is difficult for some to get – and a lot who actually have coverage don’t have enough. Do you realize that chewing is the first stage of digestion? And we chew with our……. TEETH. If our teeth fail us, the entire digestive system is compromised, which now crosses over into the real healthcare world. It’s not just cosmetic, it’s not a luxury. In some cases, an infection in a tooth that is not cared for can spread to the brain, killing a person. Under what system does that fall? Mortuary?
Makes me crazy. But it makes me feel a tad better writing about it.