Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A Story Of Health Care In California

I usually do not like to tell you a lot of personal stuff. But since I had the pleasure of having to use an emergency room for the second time in two months, it is time to share with the United States and the world what health care will be like in the whole country under Obamacare.
I have had some leg problems over the years. Varicose veins. But, last week I have had a lot of pain in the left leg. Showed Mrs. rightviewfromtheleftcoast and she said, "You have to go to the doctor!" And, lets face it. When the missus says go to the doc, fellas, go to the doc.
However, it was a Saturday and of course I had no appointment.
But, I went anyway.
And, a three-hour wait later, my doctor checked out my red left leg and said that it was clear I had a bad infection. And I got a double-dose of heavy-duty anti-biotics. And he said to come back in a couple of days.
So, I took the anti-biotics as advised and a lot of diarrhea later I went to the doctor after work yesterday.
And, as I knew, it was not getting any better. So, my doc said I had to go to the emergency room and get at least an IV of heavy-duty anti-biotics.
I was not thrilled.
But eventually, after dinner and a walk with Scout the Wonder Dog, Mrs. rightviewfromtheleftcoast and I went to the best hospital in the area, Huntington Memorial.
And, the fascinating trek into health care in California began.
We arrived at the emergency room a little after 8 pm local time. I proceeded to tell the intake worker my problem and was handed the first of a lot of paperwork to fill out and sign.
As I was filling it all out, another worker proceeded to announce that anyone who just arrived would have a five-hour wait just to get all the vitals and other info before seeing a doctor. Horror went across both our faces.
I finished the paperwork, handed it back to the intake worker and asked if that was true. A five freaking hour wait. She explained that the emergency room is divided into sections and depending where I ended up, it could be less, or the five hours.
So, within a half-hour, I had my vitals taken. Right in the emergency room waiting area. Mrs. rightviewfromtheleftcoast was incensed. And the medical assistant said it was bosses orders. And that we should write a letter to the powers to be. Believe me, I will. Needless to say, the blood pressure was a wee bit elevated. Really?!
Then, about a half-hour later, an intake registered nurse dragged us into another room and took more information, including why I was there and medicines I was taking and the like. And, we were told that it would be a while longer before I would come back to see a doctor.
Another half-hour later, a phlebotimist came to drag me to a blood draw area and proceeded to take enough blood to donate to the American Red Cross, Israel Magen David and the Islamic Red Crescent.
And, again, back to the waiting room.
This is a two-hour period and I have not seen a doctor yet.
While waiting in the emergency room, a collection of the more interesting of society were assembled. Most, but certainly not all, looked like at the worst they had a cold and or the flu. And, other than what can be done over the counter, an emergency room doc can not do much more. But, there were some colorful drunks that ended up in the waiting room around 10 pm.
One was in a wheelchair with a bandage across his forehead. His "friend", was was on a walker and barefoot, proceeded to wave to all us assembled and announce many times over, "My friend has had a lot of vodka!" Again, really?! I would have screamed, "How in the hell much have YOU had!" But I learned long ago a little something. When stuck in a bureaucratic situation, take a book or a newspaper. And bury your head in it. Even if you are not really reading it. It works two ways. You can ignore such people and they ignore you.
Finally, around 10:30 pm, I was taken to a room and the missus and I went.
A very nice nurse came in about 15 minutes later, like everyone else asked why I was there. And, I went through the whole spiel again. Mrs. rightviewfromtheleftcoast asked the nurse if she had my paperwork. The nurse, who was very nice, said she did not. I gave the missus the eye not to go further. The nurse proceeded to say that they are still waiting for the blood test results and that would determine what kind of anti-biotic I would end up getting.
Finally, and in less time than warned, about 11 pm a doctor finally came. And, once again I had to go through the spiel. He checked out the situation, said he thought that my primary doctor did the right thing. But, he ordered an ultrasound of my leg because he was concerned about potential blood clots.
About another 15 minutes later, I went up to get the ultrasound. And, sure enough I had some blood clots. The ultrasound tech said that they were surface clots, not deep ones. A good thing. But there were a lot.
Done with that test.
Back to my room.
Then, about a half-hour later, the doctor came back and said that I had celluitis and thrombophlebitis.
The first thing that came through my mind was an old All In The Family episode. In the episode, Edith Bunker is diagnosed with phlebitis. Archie Bunker exclaims, "Isn't that what the Democrats gave Nixon?" A little laugh.
So, the doc said to continue the anti-biotics that I had been taking, take real aspirin for the pain, elevate the leg and go to my primary doctor in a couple days. And, no hospital stay! WOO HOO!!
After an hour of a heavy-duty anti-biotic IV, I got to go home. At 1:15 am. And yes, the whole process took about five hours.
Now, all the people in the emergency room staff were great. The doctor, the gentleman who took me back and forth to the ultrasound test, the ultrasound tech and the nurses were very good.
But, here is a problem.
Because it is an emergency room, it has to take anyone that comes in. No matter what. Thus, people who have no more than a cold can walk in, wait for five hours to be told what they should know. Take some aspirin and rest.
So, those of us that have insurance through our employers and do pay a portion of our check to have it get pushed to the back of the line.
Does anyone really think that will change if there is single-payer, socialized medicine?
Oh, and because it is California after all, even illegal aliens get to take advantage of the emergency rooms. And, if single-payer socialized medicine does become law of the land, they will be part of the system.
Having been to emergency rooms in Minnesota and South Dakota, one thing is clear. They are ran very well and one can get in, diagnosed, get medicine and out in under two hours. There should not be a five hour wait, several people asking what they should already know and a nightmare of bureaucracy.
Folks, if the Obama administration gets its way and there is the eventuality of single-payer socialized medicine, this tale will be the tale of the land.
Yes there are alternatives out there that can be done. I would suggest to go to a couple of websites. One is The Heritage Foundation. The other is Conservatives For Patients Rights.
We do not need socialized medicine in this Great Land. But we need real reform and some maybe uncomfortable. But, going the president's route will lead to what I described to you. Trust me, it is not a good thing.


Donald Douglas said...

If I'm not back to visit before then, have a great 4th, and thanks for your support!

Rightwingsnarkle said...

So, let’s see if I’ve got this right –

You waited 3 hours to be seen by your own physician, on a Saturday, without an appointment. And when you had a follow-up appointment, he advised you to go to the ED because he decided that you needed some IV antibiotics.

Just that quick scenario raises lots of questions.

Should you be able to just walk in to see a doctor, at any time, without an appointment? Should anybody? What do you think is a reasonable waiting time, both with and without an appointment?

Should your doctor have provided you with an alternative to the ED? Should his practice be able to support such procedures as starting an IV and giving IV antibiotics? Why doesn’t he?

What do you think is a fair charge for the kinds of services you described? What would you be willing to pay? What did you pay out of pocket? What do you think his final charges actually were? How much did he end up getting paid? Who do you think should pay?

As for the ED section of your story – I'll pass on it for now.

Personally, I think it’s better when people write about their own experiences, because there’s reason to believe they know what they’re talking about – at least to a degree.

But it’s also important to recognize than any time any of us render such an account, it will be colored by our own experiences and prejudices. It will thus be something less than accurate, complete, or objective – three qualities that must inform any worthwhile discussion, especially one as complex and important as healthcare.

The two sites that you’ve linked to, and the plans they set forth, are just more of the same ridiculous crap that repubs have been pushing all along. They’re best ignored.

If he could, Jack Kemp would tell you something that he only figured out at the very end – tax cuts don’t cure cancer.

As for your particular medical condition, a sedentary lifestyle is the single biggest risk factor for thrombophlebitis that you can directly control, and the kinds of superficial clots you’ve described are different from the life-threatening variety that forms in larger, deeper veins only in the veins they affect. The two forms are often seen together.

So, get up off your ass and start walking. If your job involves sitting down, get up every hour to walk and stretch for a couple of minutes. You should also pick up a few pairs of therapeutic stockings, at least knee-high. No one will see them under long pants.

DoorHold said...

@Snarkle: "You waited 3 hours to be seen by your own physician, on a Saturday, without an appointment. And when you had a follow-up appointment, he advised you to go to the ED because he decided that you needed some IV antibiotics."

When I first read the post, I questioned those points too. A long wait for a walk-in? Gee, I wonder why. A doctor mis-using the ER, resulting in another wait? Gee, I wonder why.

Hope you get better and have little or no trouble with this in the future.