Food service dug up some real metal silverware from somewhere, and she got that rather than the disposable stuff everybody else gets. She got a newspaper every morning. And she thought she'd get to direct her own care to a degree commensurate with her husband's donations.
Two out of three ain't bad.
See, I have this philosophy: Everybody, when it comes to actual medical care, is on the same level as the poor bastard on charity care. In other words, it doesn't matter if your Secret Service agents get touchy or your personal assistants don't like it; I'm going to assess you head-to-toe at least twice during the day. I'm going to do those neuro checks every two or four hours, and I'm going to draw your blood even if it means getting you to delay that call to your broker.
Because, quite frankly, you are sick enough (or think you're sick enough) to be in the hospital. You are, therefore, a patient. Not a donor, not a politician, not a celebrity. You are a body in a bed (reductio ad absurdum) which needs diagnosis and intervention, just like the guy next door who speaks only broken English and is here by the grace of God and the indigent referral service.
So. She comes in, she lies down and begins to moan, and I get ready to assess her and fill up the paperwork that comes with an admission.
She didn't want to answer questions. She didn't want to let me check out the incision that was giving her problems. She refused a blood draw twice until I walked in with a needle and a face like grim death. She didn't want to talk to the residents.
What she wanted, and thought she would get, was a narcotic pain pump and plenty of Phenergan for the narcotic-induced nausea. Just enough, you know, to take the edge off and fill time between her Thursday admission and her Saturday discharge (in time for the boots-n-bows charity ball, or some such). Again, two out of three...
There's been a lot of debate here locally about how rich folks get better medical care than poor folks. To an extent, that's true: if you have decent insurance and the money to make up the difference, you have a wider range of choices and much better preventative care than the schlub who works four part-time jobs to barely make rent. But when you get into the realm of the Really Fucking Rich, the people who have buildings and sports fields named after themselves, things start to break down.
See, the problem with being Really Fucking Rich is that the people to whom you have donated money tend to take you at your word. If you say you don't want to be disturbed, they'll not disturb you. If you refuse blood draws, the phlebotomist will be encouraged (usually by someone connected with Patient Relations) not to press the issue. Tests will be delayed until you feel it's convenient for you to go to radiology. Residents will be so cowed by meeting Mrs. MRI Suite that they'll be too shy to do a full assessment.
I read somewhere that an ED attending training residents told them this: "If my wife comes in after a car wreck, I want you to treat her just like you would the Saturday-night drunk in the next bed." In other words, no special dispensation for rank or privilege--you get the same careful attention as the next guy.
The official position of the folks in the carpeted areas is that, while rich donors might get special perks like free parking, their level of medical care is the same as everybody else's.
That's not true. Their level of care is *poorer*, because Those In The Nice Chairs allow them to pull rank and act like they themselves know best. And mostly, they don't.
The upshot of my three-day run with Mrs. Potsofcash was that I got to have a pleasant chat with the Patient Relations people. Mrs. Potsofcash was upset that I disturbed her afternoon naps to do things like assess her or clear her PCA pump or administer medications. She was unhappy that she didn't get to refused timed blood draws (to check things like drug levels; they're called "timed" because, well, they're sort of time-sensitive). She was peeved that she had to wear a hospital-issue gown to MRI and remove her jewelry for same.
What can you say to that? Her complaint wasn't with my demeanor or my language or my personality; it was with the fact that I was providing care to her as is necessary in a hospital setting.
My response to the Patient Relations person was this: "Um...she's mad because I treated her like a patient in a hospital, is that it?"
God save me from special treatment. And from Patient Relations. And from donors.