Sunday, September 20, 2009

back to being a patient

So I did not have to get CPR, I do not recall much, as my friend helped me up; apparently I was bleeding a lot. I did not even remember being on the scooter or exactly where I was. We went into the house, and apparently I had a towel and was sitting down, at any rate my friend ended up driving my wife and I to the ER. I remember bits and pieces of this, asking if my wife was all right. I remember being really worried about my 14 year old son. He was not even with us the entire evening, but for some reason I was worried he was somehow hurt in the accident. That was the worst uncertain anxiety I felt, I just could not cognitively get it into my head that my son was safe. It was not totally registering that I had a head injury; I was so in and out of alertness. I don't remember much about getting into the ER. Generally it is a horrible experience checking in for any medical care, I have always found it humiliating, impersonal and generally awful, as medical assistants snap at you, calling out your address etc. They have no clue as to how they affect the treatment and influence everything by those initial contacts.
It is something I am profoundly sensitive to, as that initial contact at the front desk check-in or phone call, determines a lot about how the patient will feel going in to see the doctor. Since I have a private practice, it is one of the very last few things I can as a physician have any control over. We have true accountability over how empathically those other health care workers at the check-in desk treat the patient.
So if you have employees of a larger corporation or public health care system or whatever, often there is little accountability for how snotty or nasty or impersonal they treat the patient.
The worst part is the patient will usually take that interaction into the doctor’s appointment. THERE IS STILL SOME MAGICAL BELIEF that all those other people who work in health care actually work for the doctor or are accountable to the doctor. IT just is NOT true.
In a few very rare instances, like my office, since it is a private practice, the staff is accountable directly to me. Regardless of how good or bad of a day they may be having, they don’t get to treat any patients in any impersonal or disrespectful way. The most interesting part is in a private practice, I am directly accountable to my patients; not to a bunch of physician-despising health care executives. Sadly the system is set up to drive any would-be private practitioner out of their practice and into a larger health care bureaucracy.
I will come back to this later. As it stands checking into the ER after the scooter accident, my mental status was clouded, I remember more when I was lying on a gurney, a few minutes later


David Schantz said...

Saint Joseph, Missouri only has one hospital. The next closest one is a good forty miles away. So the hospital staff seems to feel they can treat you any way they please and you just have to take it.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

Lisa said...

Oh my stars! Are you going to be ok? What was the final diagnosis? What an awful scare for your wife seeing you like that. How are you feeling now???

Talking about the book with the Lake Superior wind....... a calm day