Cynical Synapse

Fri, 06 Jul 2007

Anemic, maybe, but definitely not Sicko

Filed under: Behavior, Medicine, Rants — cynicalsynapse @ 1:45 pm

I’m a licensed EMT but I’m no expert on the state of healthcare in the US. Like most everything else, it’s not perfect, as even those who work in the system will attest. But that doesn’t make it a catastrophe on the order of Sicko. RT 101 clearly makes that point.

Both yesterday and today gave me the opportunity to visit the doctor’s office. Now, no one is excited to go to the doctor’s offices (except, maybe, little kids…at least until they get that vaccination :o), so I suspect we’re pre-disposed to a bad time. This office used to be notoriously bad for looong waits, which I particularly despise. Well, they’ve gotten much better. The wait in the waiting room is relatively short—10 or 15 minutes. But, after the nurse is done with weight, BP, and temp, you wait in the exam room for another 10 or 15 minutes to see the doctor.

A couple weeks ago, I stepped on what I think was a piece of glass. I tried to get it out, but your own foot is not easy to work on. Well, I was at Disney last week, so this week was my first opportunity to visit the doctor. My bad, but it wasn’t that serious. It did hurt a couple days at Disney, which is why I made the appointment when I got back. Well, the nurse had to chide me about it. The the doc had to ask if I was sure it was glass. So he sent me for x-rays (just in case it was metal so he might be able to see where it was). That gave the x-ray techs the opportunity to ask how it happened and if was I sure it was glass. Hell, if I had seen it to know, I wouldn’t have stepped on it! Duh!

That’s where the big waits came in. First, waiting to get the x-ray, which took 2 extra tries to get the right views. You have to wonder if the tech knows what she’s doing if she had to go look at the order before each shot and then a couple more times while positioning the foot. I don’t get too many x-rays, so I guess the extra radiation exposure is probably insignificant. After getting the x-ray films to go back to the doctor, then I had to wait at least a half hour in the waiting room. A different nurse (after shift change, I guess) finally put me in another room, while taking the opportunity to ask me how I could have stepped on a piece of glass. The first nurse was fine, the doc was okay, but the x-ray tech and second nurse were not necessary and the second nurse was actually kind of rude about it. I’m already not happy about the long wait, the stupid x-rays (last I knew, glass didn’t show up on x-rays and most people don’t have slivers of metal laying around their living rooms). Oh, and the fact that about half hour into the wait in the second room, someone checked to make sure I hadn’t left yet so they could let me wait another half hour.

Well, the doc dug around in my foot (after numbing it up) for a while and never did find anything. He said he’d prescribe an antibiotic, but I requested an antibiotic ointment instead. So, he prescribed one but said I could use an over-the-counter instead if I wanted. While he was digging around, he let the callous nurse leave the room since she was sniffling like crazy. At least she changed gloves after blowing her nose twice. A much friendlier nurse who seemed to know what she was doing did the dressing.

So, 3-1/2 hours later, I had nothing to show for my experience except extra x-rays and a hole in my foot. It wasn’t quite Keystone Kops but it wasn’t state-of-the-art healthcare, either. Yes, I’ve got health insurance and that gives me better access than some. But I’ve also got a choice of whether to go to the emergency room or the doctor’s office, and which one of either I want to go to. And most hospitals I know of (and there’s at least one in every major city that’s kind of designated for this) accept un- and under-insured patients, at least for critical care. So, yep, it’s not perfect, but US healthcare is better than more than 140 other systems if you believe the statistic that the US is 37th in the world.

And just for the record, today’s visit was for my daughter and we were in and out in about 45 minutes, with no trip to their x-ray department. Imagine that!

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