Monday, August 8, 2011

He’s Back!

For those of you who missed it, which is probably all of you except the Elves who heard this by phone, I got to spend my weekend in the hospital. And a fun weekend it was. Having literally just gotten back from the hospital a few minutes ago, I thought I would share a few observations about modern medicine in the evil private sector.

By way of background, let me apologize to everyone whose comments/articles I’ve ignored since Friday. Friday night I got to experience my first heart attack! Good times. Oddly, it didn’t seem like a heart attack at all. It felt like someone punched me, just below the throat. It totally seemed like a muscle thing and the only reason I even went to the hospital was that the pain kept burning and eventually I could feel it around back -- which I knew from a legal case could be a sign of a dissection. So I went to the hospital to make sure it wasn’t that.

I got the ER of our brand new private sector hospital (3 years old) and was immediately taken to the back, where the staff were able to give me a bunch of tests on the spot to confirm that they should probably give me more tests. There was nothing conclusive, but there was enough that they wanted to look further, including some damage to the heart tissue as shown by an enzyme test. Over time, the testing showed a greater likelihood of a heart attack, so eventually I ended up getting a heart catheterization. This is where they go in through one of your limbs and poke around inside the heart with a camera. If they find something, they can fix it at that point. Fortunately, they found nothing.

What struck me first and foremost was how not-hospital-like the hospital was. I’ve stayed in luxury hotels that weren’t this nice. They had everything from private rooms for everyone to flat screen televisions to an abundance of staff. But even more interestingly, everything was computerized. I had a band on my wrist with a bar code. Before anyone could give me a medication or do anything to me, they had to scan the bar code and then ask my name and date of birth as confirmation. This was just really impressive. As someone who has handled both sides of medical practice actions, this struck me as an ingenious way to (1) prevent mistakes and (2) document everything. And indeed, it did stop one nurse from giving me the wrong medications after a shift change.

Then it hit me, aren’t we supposed to assume that the private sector can’t handle things like hospitals because they want to go el cheapo? Strangely, I saw no evidence of that anywhere. They had spent large amount of money everything they did.

For example, like I said, everything was computerized. The nurses pushed around carts with laptops on them. They could give me lab results the minute they were done. They had wireless things all over me sending off data that alerted the nurses immediately if something weird was going on with me. Everyone on staff had a cell phone and could reach anyone else at any point.

The physical lay out was great too. Well furnished, very tasteful. Each room had its own temperature controls and a private bath. The staff was professional and in no way understaffed. They all seemed quiet content with the management. The food was really good as well. It wasn’t something you would buy at a restaurant, but it was quite tasty.

How could this be with a private company running the hospital?

Maybe it was just because it was a new hospital? Nope. I ended up being transferred to the older branch of the hospital for the catheterization and discovered a nearly identical facility. This company had spent a ton of money rebuilding the older hospital right after putting up the new one -- they are also adding more parts.

Ok, so maybe it was my primo Commentarama Insurance, right? Actually, I don’t have insurance. And they asked me that at the front door, so the hospital knew right away. BUT they didn’t care. They could have turned me away and sent me to the city hospital downtown, but they didn’t.

Moreover, they apparently don’t even share this information with the doctors or nurses. So they have no idea if the person they are working on is on great insurance or doesn’t have two dimes to rub together.

Again, none of this makes sense if you believe the Obama version of the private sector or the scare tactics about “two tiers” of care.

In fact, there are two tiers of care. Downtown, there is a city-owned hospital. It’s a pit. They are finally entering the 1930s in terms of medical quality and their facilities resemble a prison.

So tell me this. If private sector companies are so bad, then why wasn’t I turned away when I said I had no insurance? With a public hospital in town, this hospital has no obligation to see me. And why did they not curtail my care somewhere along the way until I could prove that I could pay my bills? (They never once asked what I earn -- in fact, they assumed I won’t be paying and they automatically referred me to an indigent group that picks up some of the tab for people who can’t pay.)

All of this flies in the face of what Obama and his fellow travelers tell us we should find in a private sector hospital. And it makes you wonder what our healthcare will look like if Obamacare ever takes hold?

58 comments:

T-Rav said...

Jeez. I had no idea it was that bad. Well, we're all glad to see you back, and to hear your testimony on the merits of private medical care (don't have any anecdotes of my own to add to that, but I certainly believe it).

patti said...

andrew: HOLY SMOKES! so glad you are OK.

what will it look like if obamacare takes hold?! worse than that pit of a public hospital my friend. your local veterinary will be looking good, by comparison.

again, so happy you're alive and kicking. keep kickin'.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Thanks! It was pretty surprising to me too. I was pretty sure it was just a pulled muscle, but it turned out not to be.

Count yourself lucky that you don't have an anecdotes like this! When the doctor is telling about change of "fatal result" on the procedure they want to do on you, that's pretty sobering.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Patti! I'm glad too -- trust me on that!

I was super impressed with the hospital and I just can't imagine what it would be like if Obamacare was the law of the land. I've visited the local city hospital and it truly is a pit. There is just no substitute for the private sector.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: Welcome back, now take it easy. That was a helluva way to confirm my experience with private hospitals. My cancer was diagnosed one day, I was in surgery the next, and chemotherapy began the following week. And like you, I was between medical insurance carriers and not yet eligible for Medicare. Glad to know your diagnosis and treatment were also quick, efficient, and as pleasant as possible under the circumstances. At one point many years ago, I had to go to an Obamacare-type county hospital, twice. They diagnosed wrong both times, did no followup, and if it weren't for my collapsing outside a courtroom in Santa Monica and being rushed to a Lutheran hospital, I'd probably be dead now. Socialized medicine is seriously endangering our ability to survive serious illness to tell these stories.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I'm glad to hear they send you to the right hospital! I just picked this hospital because it's about 2 miles from my house, but I'm glad I did. They did a great job with everything. And like I said, the most interesting part of this for me (from a political perspective) was that none of the staff knew or cared what my insurance was. They had no interest in adjusting my treatment according to how much they could/could not profit.

That really puts the lie to everything the Democrats have said about the evils of our current system.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andy: With the cancer, I had a great family doctor, so the hospital and the treatment followed naturally. Like your situation, insurance was their last question, not their first. With the other situation, it just happened that Santa Monica Hospital is the hospital closest to the courthouse. Somebody upstairs likes me. If it had been County General, God knows what would have happened next.

Now--take care of yourself, and since you've found the right hospital, stick with it.

BoilerRoomElf said...

And there was much rejoicing in the boiler room, let me tell ya!

We're glad you pulled through and you're ok, Bossman Andrew!

And, what exactly did you mean by no primo Commentaram Insurance? We thought you had us covered down here!?!

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Location, location, location. It's seems to be vitally important to be in the right place when things go wrong and this was definitely the right place -- just like sounds like your problem happened at the right place too.

In terms of taking care of myself, yep, absolutely. It's time to clean up my diet and step up the exercise.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Elves! And thanks for passing on the message.

On the insurance, uhm... yeah. We should talk. :-(

TJ said...

Glad to hear you're okay Andrew. That is indeed very sobering.

We have Blue Cross Blue Shield and we are self-insured (as long as we can afford it). My husband had some issues about 2 years ago and our family doctor was able to get him an appointment with a cardiologist right away. They ran some tests and sent him back home with a monitor. After a couple of weeks, he went back to the specialist for more tests and to get the monitor results. Thankfully it wasn't heart related after all.

Long story short - he ended up being okay and the insurance paid a good portion of the bills.

We have also had times when we weren't insured - like when our son was born. We were able to work out a payment plan with the doctor's office at the early stages of my pregnancy and the other bills were paid by payment plans after he was born.

It has been my experience that most doctors and hospitals will work with you. We had one hospital bill that took us about 3 years to pay off (at $25.00 a month).

Again, I'm glad you're okay - now take Lawhawk's advice and take it easy!

Joel Farnham said...

Glad you are back. Did the doctors figure out why you had a heart attack?

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I'm honestly not sure if I have any insurance or not. I think I have some through my parents, but it may be limited. So far, it doesn't matter since (knock on wood) I haven't had any major health problems, but it's reassuring to know I could still get good care, as long as it's the right hospital.

Anyway, happy again to see you back (even though I am irked at you for having your "Twilight" review while I was off on vacation).

LL said...

We're all one heartbeat from oblivion but I'm glad you survived your heart attack and that the doctors and staff treated you well.

In the ObamaNation, things will change and we all know, not for the better.

If there was no profit in healthcare, they'd have laid you out on a stretcher in a tent. That's simple human reality.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks TJ!

I was amazed how little the whole issue of money mattered to them. They really never asked once. And I mentioned it a couple times and the one doctor and the one nurse said, "oh, that's not my department, I don't worry about that." To me, that really showed that they aren't letting cost influence their decisions.

I actually thought they were going to send me home too, but they did a blood test right away (I'd waited three hours before going to the hospital because I'm stupid) and it was already showing dead heart tissue in the blood stream, so they were pretty sure something had happened to my heart -- they just didn't know what. So over my objections, they took me upstairs and got me a room.

Glad to hear you're husband is ok. This can be pretty scary stuff. On the one hand you think, "hey, I'm standing, I should be fine." But then the doctor start rattling off the risks and the things they can and can't do for you and you start hearing the word "fatal result" and you kind of wake up pretty fast to just how serious this can be.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Actually... no. They think it might have been high pressure in the upper chamber or something that cured itself before they got in there to take a look. But when they did go in (a totally weird experience by the way), they found nothing wrong -- no damage, no blockages.

I was actually awake the whole time they did this and joking around with two of the nurses about the music they were playing. At first, I kept thinking "should these people by joking around"? But then I realized, that this is so second nature to them that there was nothing to worry about and I would have been more worried if they had been all tense.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, In truth, I would recommend making sure there is a good hospital in whatever area you live. Having done the legal end of some medical disasters, I can tell you that the quality of care varies a lot out there and it is well worth it to live somewhere where you can be comfortable that they can take care of you in the event of an emergency because that's not the time to try to find good facilities.

Feel free to comment on the Twilight review should you feel it. :-) I'll catch up on old comments later today.


P.S. Sorry I missed Sunday's article. It looks like it got off to a good start.... even though some of us were long winded! ;-) (just kidding)

CrispyRice said...

Andrew, I'm so glad you're ok! Get some rest and stay healthy. We need you!!

I'll also just add to what TJ said. In my experience doctors are very happy to work with you in paying off bills if you have to. I've never been denied medical care when I needed something just because I didn't have insurance at the time. (And the same CANNOT be said for some of my family in Germany who have been denied care despite their much-vaunted universal coverage. Grrrr.)

AndrewPrice said...

LL, Thanks! It's good (and sobering) to be here.

That's true. I look at it this way. The fact that private hospitals can run hospitals without being ogres about what care to provide and without rationing everything is a stunning affirmation of the greatness of capitalism.

Liberal theory tells us that these things can't happen. It tells us that business will squeeze every ounce of profit and put it in huge Scrooge McDuck piles.

But realities like this shows that even companies driven by profit motive will do good things as a by product of making money.

For the record, I intend to pay my bill fully, but I'm just amazed that they never bothered to ask and then gave me the same care they would have given me if I had el primo insurance.

BevfromNYC said...

OMG (to quote the youngsters)!! I walk out of the room for 10 minutes and all hell breaks loose.
As everyone has pointed out, I'm glad everything turned out alright and you are home safe and sound. Now eat your veggies.

Oh, by the way, you know all those computers they carry around? I bet they already knew you were a lawyer. so I'm surprised they treated you so well...just kidding...maybe :-/

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, Or in England where they have been denied care because there simply wasn't any money from the state to provide it.

Our system is not perfect, but it's still got a heck of a foundation and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Unfortunately, Obama and crew are trying to warp it to be like all those other failed/failing systems.

As for taking care of myself, will do... right after a celebratory box of donuts! Just kidding. It's time to make sure that I'm doing everything a little healthier.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Yeah, things move fast around here. But even so, this was a pretty big surprise. I literally was expecting "it's muscular, take an anti-inflammatory and go home." I was not expecting, "hey, you've had a heart attack."

On the lawyer thing, yeah, I was always a little concerned answering that question when it came up.

"So, what do you do for a living?"
"I am Satan."
"Great. Does this hurt?"
"Yes"
"Good."

Actually, the ones who asked almost all had lawyers in the family already and took it in stride.

All in all, I have to say that I was truly impressed by every single doctor, nurse, CNA, etc. that I met there. They were all very competent, very professional, very friendly, and genuinely concerned for their patients. It was a very pleasant experience despite the unpleasant nature of why I was there.

BoilerRoomElf said...

Wait -- first no insurance and now no more donuts??

grumblegrumble...YES, we want him to live... grumblegrumblegrumble...

AndrewPrice said...

BRE, You should have read the fine print in the clause granting you the adult beverages! :-)

The large print giveth. . . and the small print taketh away.

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

Why did you tell them you were a lawyer? You could have easily told them you were a writer.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I figured it was not a great idea to lie to my doctor.

On that point, I actually had a tort professor who was somewhat famous for suing doctors and he said that he's had doctors refuse to see him.

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

You write for Big Hollywood, Commentarama, and Commentarama Films. It would not be a lie.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, True. But I am also an attorney and it just doesn't seem like a good idea to hide that. Then the doctors would get really suspicious if they found out the truth.

Also, it only came up a couple times and then just in small talk, so it wasn't a big deal. And like I said, each of these people had relatives who were lawyers (they wanted to know if I knew them).

I even joked around with the doctor that "this can't be a heart attack, I'm a lawyer, we don't have hearts." He got a chuckle out of that. He was a funny guy. Very not-PC. I'll tell you though, his sense of humor made the whole catheterization seem a lot less ominous and a lot more routine.

thundercatkp said...

Andrew,

I'm glad your ok.

Hmmm....I thought the New Film Debate was suppose to be....a lighthearted fun way to spend a Sunday morning...you have a weird sense of lighthearted and fun :)

I would rather work at a private owned facility any day. The last place I worked was private for years.(we didn't know how good we had it) When a larger healthcare system bought them out we lost our lab, autonomy, respect.....

I'm glad you're back

Karen

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Karen, I'm glad to be back... very glad. :-)

Everyone at this hospital (both branches) seemed very happy with their jobs. They were friendly and happy to help and I never heard anyone gripe about the management or the way things were set up. One or two weren't thrilled with the computers because they were having some problems with a scanner, but that was the only complaint I've heard.

AndrewPrice said...

Karen, P.S. On the Sunday thing, yeah that was kind of a downer. Hopefully, next Sunday will be better! :-)

Tennessee Jed said...

Just got back late last night myself, played golf this morning, and then our dog got into some poison so I had to take her to the vet and get treated this afternoon (she seems to be o.k. as well.) I'm so sorry to hear of your heart attack. You are far too young for that to be happening. Needless to say, am very glad it seems to have turned out o.k. so far. It is not in your nature, but make sure to relax a bit. ;-)

Mike Kriskey said...

Glad you're back and on the mend!

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Mike!

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Jed! I brought it on myself with the old lifestyle -- poor diet, not enough exercise, too much stress, not enough sleep.

I will do my best to relax, but I've got to tell you, it's not in my nature. I was climbing the walls in the hospital. Fortunately, I had my kindle with me and I was able to read a couple books (Island of Dr. Moreau and The Hobbit).

StanH said...

Damn buddy, that’s heavy. Glad you’re okay. You gotta take care of yourself.

I had the same experience with my dad, of course he’s 78. Absolutely superb treatment, his was much more severe, severe heart Attack, kidney failure, he had to have emergency triple bypass, but his condition was so grave he had to wait eleven days in the intensive care to stabilize him. Then they transported him to a hospital, about 20 miles south. This place was high tech, clean, state of the art, all manned by “Emory University” doctors, my dads an alumni. This team of doctors were the epitome of professionalism, all given to us by the Free Market. You can be certain if Barrycare survives, the quality that you received and my dad, will no longer exist. To punctuate, my dad is fine, as are you.

Remember, take it easy Andrew, you must.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Stan, I'll do what I can about relaxing now and then. :-)

I'm concerned too that Obamacare is going to destroy places like this and do tremendous damage to our system.

Ed said...

Andrew, I'm glad you're ok. You're too young to have a heart attack man! Stay healthy!

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ed, I will do my best to avoid a repeat.

T-Rav said...

Island of Dr. Moreau? Ew, that book gave me the creeps. Oh well, to each his own, I guess. Anyway, you seriously should relax a bit. I know, it's easy for us to preach, but still.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, All this "relax" talk is stressing me out... just adding another thing to do to the list. Harumph. ;-)

I've been reading a lot of the classics since I found out they are free on Kindle.

This was an interesting and disturbing book. Jules Vern apparently was a conservative and he had no love for Wells. Reading this book, I can see why. Wells is a committed socialist utopian and this book appears to attack Eugenics, but really doesn't. In fact, it only attacks Eugenics without a purpose, but it whole heartedly endorses Eugenics with a purpose. It's also deeply anti-Christian, anti-human and anti-society.

And even beyond that, Wells just wasn't a good writer. His sentences are confused, his word choice is poor and he never would have been published today.

I much prefer Vern -- just finished his Around the World in 80 Days and really enjoyed it.

Writer X said...

Andrew, I am so glad you're out of the hospital and feeling better! Thank God for American healthcare. I am sending nothing but good thoughts your way! Please take good care of yourself.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X!

Thanks for the good thoughts! :-)

I shall do my best to take care of myself. This was quite a shock and is a pretty good motivation.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I've had a copy of Around the World in 80 Days since junior high and love it each time I read it. I'm not as big a fan of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but that's still a good one, too. I didn't know Jules Verne was a conservative, but that's cool.

As for H.G. Wells--eh. The only thing of his I've ever really liked is The Invisible Man; I couldn't even make it all the way through The Time Machine. They're all kind of dystopic that way, even if unintentionally so. (Kind of mirroring Britain at the moment, come to think of it...) But Dr. Moreau really disturbed me like none of his other stuff did.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Let me clarify before this goes too far. I don't know that Vern was a political conservative. I do know that he opposed socialism and everything it stood for, and the values he espouses are largely classical liberal values. So I short hand interpreted that as "conservative." It's possible that he never claimed to be anything of the sort. But he apparently wrote several works as direct responses to what he considered to be the offensive works/views/politics of Wells.

I think Wells hit upon some great stories... but I have been less than thrilled with the details of his stories. To the extent that you treat them as pure science fiction, they are great. But once you start to see the social commentary, they do become offensive and wrong very quickly.

And talking about offensive, I've just started reading a book about Alan Quatermain.... wow, what a liberal ass! He starts off like a typical liberal with this blast at humanity and "supposedly civilized man" and Christianity -- the standard liberal bit that we're no better than cannibals or animals. Then he goes into the bush and becomes the world's biggest liberal racist -- it's very "noble savage" condescending as he treats blacks like children or as obstacles to be murdered. And he never once sees them as humans.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, that's close enough for me. Even if he wouldn't label himself as a conservative, being anti-socialist and calling out people like Wells will do.

On Quatermain, I can't comment. I've only read an abridged kids' version of "King Solomon's Mines" a very long time ago, so I don't remember much of it. I do remember it wasn't one of my favorites.

Koshcat said...

Th only problem I have had with treating lawyers is that they are often so damn detail oriented they'll drive you crazy. They will ask the same basic question differently ten times just to make sure they are clear. Glad to hear your feeling better.

Remember: lawyers don't hurt people; people with lawyers hurt people

Koshcat said...

I just realized that it was the down grading of the US that did this to you. And since I put most of the blame for this on Obama and the democrats, it is obvious that THEY CAUSED YOUR HERT ATTACK!

I think you have a case.

Cheryl said...

So glad you're doing okay!

Ponderosa said...

Glad you are OK. Take care.

Now back to lurking.

rlaWTX said...

welcome back!!! glad you had good hospital experiences...

through various conversations I figure we're close to the same age, and I categorically state that you are too young for heart attacks!!!

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, That's close enough for me too. And I'll tell you, it's very interesting re-reading a lot of these books, which I haven't read since childhood and seeing how deeply ideologically they really are. You don't notice that as an child, but you really do as an adult.

AndrewPrice said...

Koshkat, LOL! "people with lawyers hurt people!" Well put! :-)

Admittedly, I do ask a lot of questions to make sure I know what is going on. I've seen too many mistakes take place out there not to make sure to pay attention -- and it has helped me several times with nurses who showed up with the wrong drugs.

On the Democrats, let me tell you, I thought about that! They have killed whatever meager amounts I had left in my stock portfolio. It hasn't been a good week.... or month... or Presidential term.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Cheryl! I'm very happy to be ok too. This was quite a shock.

AndrewPrice said...

Ponderosa, Thanks! I was wondering you were still around these days? Feel free to comment any time! :-)

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Thanks! I just hit 41 a couple weeks ago and I agree, that's way too young to have a heart attack. I think I was just pushing things too hard lately with bad diet, not enough exercise, lack of sleep and too much stress about various things. Time to take more care!

USArtguy said...

Wow. Just caught this a day late.

While I'm pleased you "enjoyed your stay" at the hospital, considering something like 40% of victims don't survive their first heart attack, I'm especially glad you came through and are recovering. After reading your first-hand account, I wonder how much of that 40% is the fault of municipal hospital/care givers .

When my dad had his first (and only) I remember him looking at me in the ER and saying "I thought you were supposed to know when you're having a heart attack"!.

Hang in there, buddy!

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks USArtguy! I thought like you did, that you would KNOW you were having a heart attack. But I really only suspected what was going on here -- I was pretty sure it was just muscles.

Trust me, I was pretty shocked when the blood enzyme test came back and said that heart tissue had died.

On the 40% survival rate, that's a very good question. These guys did everything right. They started the right treatments right away and insisted on doing all the right tests -- even when I was saying, "this doesn't seem that serious."

By comparison, I've had a lot of experiences with military medicine (as a child) and with a city-run hospital in another city and there were always problems caused by under-staffing, lack of equipment and indifference.

One thing I should say about the 40% though is that I was easily the youngest person they had at the cardiac unit and I was easily in the best shape post-attack -- many of the others couldn't even sit up. So it's possible that the fatality numbers are skewed by age and it's probably a matter of the severity. But in any event, they were doing great work on everyone from what I could see.

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