The focus of this web site is medicine. In this blog, you’ll read about patient stories. The situations have been changed to be HIPAA compliant. Factual statements may or may not be true. I may change ages, gender or presenting complaints about patients. I may even entirely make up complete patient encounters from my fertile imagination. Trust me, if you think I’m writing about you, I’m not. There are billions of people in this world and readers send me stories about patients all the time. It isn’t you.
You’ll also read a lot about health care policy. I may throw in posts about life lessons, computers, and will even throw in family stories once in a while. If you’re looking for articles about politics, sports, or celebrities, you’re in the wrong place – unless the topics have some relationship to medicine.
If you want to add a guest post or to cross-post something from your blog, or if you have a patient story you want me to write about, e-mail me. See more information in the “About Me” page.
Lots of health care-related news this week. Read more on the satellite edition of this week’s update over at ERStories.net. Yeah, um, I’m calling in sick today because I had to go to the emergency department for treatment. You just nevermind what the treatment was for. I can’t be seen in public until I soak my head in water, that’s all. And don’t give me grief about the incident taking place 6 months ago. The story was just published last week. Low health literacy in older Americans is linked to poorer health status and a higher risk of death. That means 75 million Americans – about 25% of the population – are in trouble. Now the government has created a plan to “improve jargon-filled language, dense writing, and complex explanations that often fill patient handouts, medical forms, health web sites and recommendations to the public. That way when lawyers sue medical providers, they can allege that there wasn’t informed consent because of the lack of jargon-filled language, dense writing, and complex explanations. How’s that “insurance for all” thing working for ya? Have a psychiatric emergency in Massachusetts? Sorry, there aren’t any beds available for your “insurance.” Instead, we’re going to force you to sit in this conference room for a few days with 15-20 other psychiatric patients. You won’t get treatment while you’re waiting and you can’t leave. That should make you never want to complain of psychiatric problems again. If not, maybe each and every discharged psychiatric patient could be given a bus ticket and cab fare to Governor Deval Patrick’s house to ring his doorbell and personally discuss why he repeatedly cuts funding for psychiatric care. Ditto for South Carolina where mentally ill patients are “staying in emergency departments longer, clogging the system, creating a financial drain, and heightening the danger to other patients and staff. One patient’s mother described to state legislators how her daughter had been waiting in an emergency department for 8 days and still couldn’t find treatment. Another patient waiting 12 days in the emergency department prevented approximately 84 patients from being seen in the occupied bed. The emergency physician in the hospital predicts that “something bad is going to happen — and that will get people’s attention.” Not getting treatment from the emergency department quick enough? Try leaving the waiting room, driving to a grocery store, and calling an ambulance. That will get you brought back to the hospital and dropped off … right back in the waiting room. Emergency department in Huntsville Memorial Hospital in Texas institutes new policy. First, you get screened for an emergency medical condition. If you don’t have one, you have three options: see your primary care physician, go to the hospital’s Medical Clinic, or stay in the emergency department and pay for your care. Insightful article in the NY Times about the changing attitudes toward practicing medicine in the US. More medical practitioners are “getting off the hamster wheel” and value quality of life much more than finances as the most important factor in their job searches. In addition, the public perception of physicians has changed. “Doctors were once revered, but a host of intermediaries — insurers, lawyers, the Internet, growing patient needs and expectations — have intervened, to the point that many patients now see doctors as interchangeable. Younger doctors are deciding that the personal price of being at their patients’ beck and call is too high ….” “[My medical insurance card] is a useless piece of plastic,” says a patient who has three ruptured discs in her neck but can’t find a surgeon or pain ...Read More »