Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Boobies! Boobies! Boobies!

Nota bene: there are no boobs in this post. The title line is merely an attention-getting device.

A nice guy came in a couple weeks ago with a huge tumor. This particular huge tumor is growing in his chest, wrapping around his spinal column, compressing his lungs and heart, and dropping down to involve one kidney. His symptoms started about five months ago and got steadily worse; he's lost the use of his legs and bowel and bladder control.

He came to us through a relative of a friend of a former patient who *also* had a huge tumor. She had heard somehow of the guy's predicament and called her relative's friend's former surgeon, who said to bring the guy in.

His predicament, to wit: being discharged from a charity hospital because the only surgeon who was not willing to operate gratis demanded full payment for service up front. This particular wanker apparently works on contract with The Other Hospital, so there wasn't a lot anybody could do. He was also apparently the only surgeon willing to attempt a tricky and complicated resection, so my patient was screwed. To the wall.

Now, as in all great Suthun states, we have one city which continually congratulates itself on its international appeal, its liberalism, its ability to absorb people of all ethnicities and cultures into a huge melting pot/salad bowl of wonderfulness. This particular guy emigrated from his home country during a time of, shall we say, political unrest, and landed in That Great City.

Whereupon, after working and paying taxes and so on for umpty-ump years, he was told by one nurse to "go back to your own country to get your surgery". Yeah, I'll bet the Khmer Rouge established *great* surgery programs in its medical schools. Then there was the accusation by a doctor at the hospital that the patient was over-playing his symptoms in order to get free treatment for himself and the presumed ten kids he had, because, as the doctor pointed out, people like that come here to take advantage of the system.

And then there were the nurses and nurses' aides who pulled slanty-eyed faces and spoke with fake Chinese accents to him and his family.

Lovely crowd, that. There is something to be said for a well-aimed tornado or six, eh?

At any rate, he's with us now, and he'll get treatment for free. He had his first surgery over the weekend, an anterior resection of the bulk of the tumor, in order to allow him to breathe. The neurosurgery and kidney stuff will come a little later in the week. I think he's glad he left Self-Absorbedville and landed with us, poor sot.

It still amazes me, even after (*cough*) years of being on this planet, that people can be outright viscous hateful bigots. Especially people who have a professional charge and a moral responsibility to be better than everybody else when it comes to their job. There don't seem to be enough tornadoes to go around.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. I enjoy reading your blog. This upset me. I guess I thought that people in the medical profession were somehow nicer, more caring, professional and competent than people in other professions. I wonder what kind we have at my local hospital.

Anonymous said...

I HATE when so-called healthcare professionals act like that. Makes me proud to work in a non-profit hospital that treats people and then worries about paying for their bills (and suprisingly enough, stays in business. It pays to be nice).

Anonymous said...

I'm appalled!! Has any of this behavior been documented? Can they be reported to some QM board or something? Yank a licence?? Community service?? I get irate when folks behave snarkily to my HMO patients. This is above & beyond!!! I don't blame you for being livid. And I'll bet the patient was a real gent. It chaps my hide.


Nurse2B said...

It's great he got out of there and came to your hospital. I can't believe the cruelty of some people. BTW, your last post was great too, I could not comment there for some reason.

shrimplate said...

Though an unsettling thought, I have found that hate brings people together.

Well, some people, that is. This is unfortunate.

A casual examination of recent American political trends would seem to bear out this notion.

Lazy Leukocyte said...

Hey Jo,

I actually found a link to your blog from the underwear drawer and have been lurking around for a while. I didn't think I was ever going to comment until I read your last post. It struck a nerve with me, because being cambodian and I'm assuming that the patient was also...the entire situation just made me sick to my stomach. I am currently a second year medical student, and as of late, I've become rather disheartened by my future colleagues. When I first got to medical school, I was idealistic. I had all these grand ideas of helping people and saving their lives no matter what the circumstances. I assumed that my classmates had the same goal also. Over time, I've come to realize that the majority of the people in my class are really concerned about only 2 things... money and themselves. It really sickens me. I've always held medicine and healthcare to be an altruistic profession.. and I come to find out that very few people actually believe in that. It makes me happy to know that at least someone else out there shares my beliefs about what healthcare should be. Thanks Jo.

Anonymous said...

Made my heart HURT to read how this patient was treated. Makes me want to HURT them.