Why Our Healthcare System Is Broken…

Anyone who has children can understand how helpless you feel when your little one is sick. Perhaps it is high fever that won’t come down with a lukewarm bath or an ear infection that is keeping you both up in the middle of the night.

I had the unfortunate experience of taking my son to a children’s hospital ER over the weekend, (yes, he’s fine now as his “problem” has been resolved) and waited 6 hours in the middle of the night for tests only to be sent home without a diagnosis.

As we sat in the waiting room for a good hour around midnight, parents with children came and went. To my left was a woman who brought her entire family (including another adult), and called a nurse over who had come out looking for the patient next in line. She mused that her daughter had been seen by triage and was told she most likely had a mosquito bite upon her stomach. She then asked when she would be seen; putting two and two together and figuring out that a bug bite would continue to get bounced down the list as more important cases came in throughout the night. The nurse calmly told her to wait and that it would be useless to leave since she was already there.

She left.

There are two issues I found rather odd and frustrating in this scenario. My kids have had the usual slate of maladies associated with childhood. While I may rush my child to an ER should she have the croup and couldn’t draw a breath, or a fever spiked over my comfort zone and would not come down with alternating Tylenol and Motrin and a lukewarm bath; I would never bring my child in for a common bug bite unless she suffered an allergic reaction. Even before then, I’d douse her with some Benadryl and unless she couldn’t breathe or was swollen like a marshmallow; I’d call my doctor.

I don’t understand why this mother found it necessary to drag her whole family down to an emergency room in the middle of the night so that her daughter could be looked upon by a tired doctor and given some anti-itch cream.

Furthermore, when she was brought into the triage area, I am curious as to why the hospital found it necessary to make her wait. I guess that had I been the nurse, I would have ripped a doctor away, told him to confirm the diagnosis of a bug bite, give her the cream and send her home. I don’t suppose I’d last too long at said facility.

So you wonder why your insurance premiums are going up? This is a fine example. Parents: Please know when to take your children to an emergency room. Stop using your neighborhood hospital as your own private doctor. Find a free clinic if you do not have proper insurance. There are plenty of other options, here. Doctors: Please dedicate someone to send frivolous cases that come in through triage, back home, as to keep the patients with more serious injuries or sicknesses revolving in timely manner.

I hesitate to even mention that the woman and her family left without paying. How do I know this? They didn’t even grab our insurance information until we were settled in the room with a bed. By the way they handle the influx of families, I’m wondering if they aren’t specifically set up the way they are because, Ms. Bug Bite has a tendency of bolting before actually being seen by a doctor.

I don’t know what makes me more sick to my stomach.

8 thoughts on “Why Our Healthcare System Is Broken…

  1. Kate, I would never doubt your veracity, because we all know that the Hot Chicks should never questioned.

    But seriously…a mosquito bite?

    Who the heck brings their child into the ER for a mosquito bite?

    When I was growing up, you went to the ER if you were bleeding from both ears, and not before, by God.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go chase the kids off my lawn…

  2. Damian says:

    I personally think our health care premiums are going up due to fear of litigation by the doctors. The nurse asking the woman to stay is simply covering her ass. Had a doctor or nurse taken a glance and said “Oh, it’s just an insect bite.” and sent them on their way, there is the chance it could have been more serious and the child could die at a later time. This would give the parent the ammunition to sue.

    Now, all that aside, I cannot begin to tell you how much money medical sales reps make. You pay tens of thousands of dollars for a knee surgery and a large chunk of it goes to the cost of the screws and the rep of the screw company to stand there with the doc during surgery in case something goes wrong. It’s pretty sickening when you think about it.

  3. Do you have an Urgent Care facility in your area? That’s where we’ve been going for things that come up past doctor’s hours.

    Ours is very fast, and the doctors and nurses are wonderful.

    And unlike emergency rooms, they can turn away patients who cannot afford care.

    What I would love to see in this country is primary care made available to everyone. And then an extra charge for anyone who uses the emergency room when it’s not an emergency.

    So, no greater solution, but Urgent Care is great for *you* if it’s not a heart attack, severed limb, or some other life and death situation.

  4. Michelle, thanks for bringing that up. My HMO has urgert care facilities, and I’ve used it a couple tmes. Once for a hyper-extended knee, and twice for pink-eye.

    When the Smart Man fell down the stairs, though, we used the ER – after hours even for our HMO’s urgent care.

  5. Pete,

    I’m already treated like that now!

    Damian,

    High insurance and malpractice cases are just part of a very large broken system. I’m just pointing out that when patients leave the hospital without paying and ignore bills, the cost of that visit gets passed on to the paying patients as HMO’s and insurance plans raise their rates to the companies and ultimately the paying employees.

    I’m just curious if the medical center took that into effect and figured it would give parents a few moments after going through triage to leave as not to incur additional cost. Yet, if these adults were better educated, they’d know not to take their kids into the ER for a mosquito bite in the first place.

  6. I just had umbilical hernia surgery and had a very positive experience with the healthcare system. I do think the cost of said surgery (hitting my maximum out of pocket for the year) was a little ludicrous, but I don’t mind paying the price for responsive, reponsible health care.

  7. The state of our emergency health care is really sad, and it’s perpetuated by both the patients and the health care system. After my son’s last seizures, I took him to the ER myself. (Mistake – arriving by ambulance gets you a more urgent level of attention, but I was already driving when he had the second seizure.) He was unconscious, in a wheelchair, with blue lips – and he didn’t get seen any faster than the drunks, mosquito bites and flu cases in the waiting room. I was PISSED. The minute the triage nurse did see him and check his O2 levels they admitted him – but it was super frustrating. (Yes, he is fine – he has epilepsy and after a second seizure in a day he didn’t recover very well.)

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