The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Quiet Sunday Afternoon

It has dawned on me that I did properly relate to you the Emergency Room Epic of late March.

You see, once you break an important bone (and the kneecap is, I have learned, very important) you must go to the emergency room at the nearest hospital that your medical insurance will pay. You can go to any emergency room but if they are not on the In Network list, you will be amazed at how much medical care costs these days. You will be anyway but even more so in that case.

I am fortunate. My health insurance lists both of the hospitals in my little town so I actually had a choice. I had no idea which choice would be right in this particular situation. After all, all my other visits to emergency rooms were for cuts, lacerations, gunshots breathing difficulties, or other routine things. So I chose to be transported to the nearest one... which just happened to be less than a mile away.

It was the wrong one. Apparently, it was the emergency room du jour. They were overflowing with cases. Alzheimer's patients with weird symptoms of disorientation, children with vomiting issues, people needing bloodwork for no apparent reason, and many worried relatives.

So the EMT crew rolled me in to the main area, moved me gently to a hospital gurney (since I refused to get off and walk), and said something like "good luck!" and laughed.

Every so often, someone in a set of scrubs would ask me why I was there and I would tell them I was pretty sure I had broken my kneecap. They would make sympathetic sounds, ask me how I managed to do such a thing, and then wander off to chat up a co-worker and go on break.

And I waited... and waited. Eventually, I convinced the nurse who seemed to be overseeing the operation to arrange for an X-ray of my knee to confirm what I already knew. I admit I pressed for this because she kept reporting to what appeared to be doctors that I "was complaining of knee pain."

I wasn't complaining at all at that point. I was simply waiting for someone to get around to examining me and, just maybe, treating me. I figured if I already had an X-ray taken, it would move things along.

I was wrong.

There was no official radiologist to interpret the X-ray. Not that it needed much in the way of interpretation, the kneecap was clearly in two pieces. And still I waited. I sent Faye home before she fainted from hunger and before the rain (did I mention it was raining?) got worse. And waited some more.

After 3 and half hours, a doctor came to me and asked what my trouble was. I explained about the kneecap. I explained about the X-ray. He told me they would fit me with a soft-cast and send me home, that I should see an orthopedic surgeon as soon as possible, and give me a prescription for painkillers. He also ordered someone to give me a painkiller (I said it was unnecessary) so that the fitting of the soft-cast would go smoothly.

So, an orderly brought a painkiller and a glass of water. Soon after, a young woman came by and got my insurance info and promised to process it so I can leave. I called Faye and asked her to come back and pick me up. 15 minutes later, two males (I have no idea if they were nurses or merely aides) brought the soft-cast and placed it on my leg. They also handed me a pair of crutches and made sure I knew how to use them.

The young woman returned and escorted me to the door where Faye would pick me up. I was not wheeled out, I hobbled behind her on my new crutches. Faye showed up and I worked my way onto the back seat of her car. And we went home.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw the bills from the emergency room visit. Yes, plural. It seems that the hospital does not run the emergency room but contracts it out. The total of the two bills was about $3200. I am responsible for about 10% of that.

That painkiller? $22.73

And, no, I really didn't need it.


zeusiswatching said...

I had to take my wife to the ER in our small regional hospital on the very day Obamacare was signed. It was just as well that she was in dire pain from a joint and muscle in her hip. I was wincing as I watched the TV.

Our hospital is staffed by fine souls with way too many people to see. On that day, they did an x-ray, gave my wife an injection of 1960's quality painkillers and ant-inflammatories, and a prescription for more great stuff (legal even!) to fill on the way home. We didn't even get to leave the ER without a young lady stopping by to collect our co-payment. said...

Too bad you couldn't injure your kneecap in Britain or the Netherlands. You would have been in and out, with no paperwork and your wallet none the lighter....

Douglas said...

zeus, there are those among us who were apparently appalled that "Obamacare" to did not take effect at the moment of signing. I am appalled that the will of the people was ignored.

Andreas, in those places my wallet would have been lighter before I ever entered the hospital. The paperwork was minor, filled out by the young woman, all I had to do was sign it. I believe I have read a number of stories about long waits for service in GB, not so sure I have read about similar in The Netherlands. It was not the long wait that bothered me so much as the 5 minutes spent with the doctor (who did next to nothing) which was billed in excess of $500... among other things. I was not treated for anything. I was X-rayed (at my insistence), given ONE pill, a soft-cast and crutches and sent on my way. Had I known that was all that would happen, I would have opted to go to an out-patient clinic (much cheaper).