Last week I critiqued the Republican National Convention and I promised to do the same for the Democratic National Convention this week. But due to an emergency trip to a hospital emergency room, it will have to wait until next week.
I wasn’t the patient relative to that trip; my 33-year-old daughter was. Friday a week ago, August 31st, she began feeling a little discomfort in her stomach and abdomen. She had no fever and she didn’t feel nauseous. She just chalked it up to a mild virus.
The next morning, however, the stomach pain had become more severe. She still had no fever or nausea, but the pain was worse whenever she walked.
Since it was a weekend, her doctor’s office was closed; so I took her to a medical aid facility designed for such seemingly non-life threatening emergencies. I’ve used the place myself with good results.
A doctor examined her. She still had no fever or nausea. The doctor didn’t order any x-rays or blood work. He felt it was probably a muscle pull. He gave her a prescription for 5-painkiller pills and told her to come back if she didn’t feel any better in a couple of days.
By Monday evening, the pain was worse and she had developed a mild fever, but still no nausea.
The next morning I took her to her doctor who, after hearing her symptoms and discovering that her temperature had reached 101.8 degrees, told me, “take her to a hospital emergency room IMMEDIATELY; she’s in the throes of an appendicitis.”
It took me less than 20-minutes to arrive at our local hospital emergency room. If you’ve ever been to one of these, you understand that there is NO limit as to how bad things can get.
Surely if there is a place called hell, it can’t be any worse than a trip to a hospital emergency room.
We arrived at the admission window at 10:30 AM. She described her symptoms, including the fact that her doctor had told her to go to the emergency room IMMEDIATELY.
The process took less than 3-minutes. She signed admission and consent forms. We were quickly whisked into the belly of the beast—the WAITING room—where another 50-75 others awaited treatment.
Two hours later, at precisely 12:30 PM, someone called her name. She disappeared into a room. At 1:48 PM she came back into the waiting room to tell me that they had taken her vitals and a blood sample… no CAT scan, though.
At 2:56 PM, someone again called her name and directed both of us back into the examining room area that had 5-examining cubicles offering no more privacy than a thin cloth curtain.
She changed into an examining gown and climbed onto gurney. My butt flopped onto a chair next to her. As the attendant closed the curtain for “privacy,” she told us that a doctor would see us in a few minutes.
At 4:03 PM a doctor came through the curtain to examine her. After asking the same series of questions as she answered to get into this area, he informed her that a nurse would take her temperature (AGAIN) and that he would be sending her to radiology for a CAT scan.
At 5:11 PM a nurse arrived, took her temperature—it was 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 degrees Fahrenheit)—and told us that radiology would send someone to take her for her CAT scan.
At 5:45 PM, radiology arrived and took her for her CAT scan. They brought her back to the examining room at 6:23 PM. At 7:01 PM the doctor peeked into the examining room and told us that a radiologist was reading the CAT scan as he spoke to us.
At 7:52 PM, he came back and informed her that she was suffering from appendicitis and that it, while not having FULLY ruptured, it had leaked a bit and that a surgical resident would arrive shortly to explain her surgical options. He ordered an antibiotic and a saline drip inserted immediately.
At 8:30 PM a surgical resident arrived. He asked the same series of questions that she had answered twice before. He probed her stomach and abdomen and informed her that surgery would take place shortly.
At 8:50 PM, the chief surgical resident arrived and reexamined her. He then told her that because of the leakage surgery would be delayed for about 6-weeks.
They were going to admit her, drain the abscess by inserting drainage tubes, and apply strong antibiotics for two or three days. He explained that this is a much safer action than trying to operate immediately.
The man was the epitome of medical competence with a comforting bedside manner to boot. We both felt better about everything.
At 10:43 PM, an attendant arrived to take her to her assigned room on the 4th floor of the hospital. The nurse assigned to her room gave her a Tylenol for her fever, hooked up another antibiotic drip with her saline drip, and administered a pain killer.
She told us that the draining procedure would not take place until 2:30 PM the next day.
My daughter was tired to begin with and it didn’t take long for the painkiller to take effect. I kissed her forehead; told her that I loved her; and that everything was going to be fine. I left the hospital; it was exactly 11 PM.
This past Friday, September 7, our daily newspaper, The News Journal, published a report, Health care system squanders $750 billion a year. It broke the waste down.
Unnecessary services account for $210-billion. Inefficient delivery of care, excessive administrative costs, and inflated prices add another $425-billion. Prevention failures add another $55-billion to the tab, while fraud adds another cost component of $75-billion.
Is this true? Let’s see. At approximately 9:45 AM, my daughter’s personal doctor—without any sophisticated diagnostic means other than her years of experience and a thermometer—diagnosed her as having had a probable appendicitis attack… possibly on the verge of a full rupture.
It took a major metropolitan hospital emergency room, with the aid of the latest and greatest diagnostic equipment and medical know-how, about 12.39 hours to confirm it!
I say there is ample evidence to believe the newspaper’s report. What do you say?