Recently, this reporter spent four days in the hospital, prior, it turns out, to surgery and a more extended stay in the approaching future. The following, through the filter of confusion, fear and inexperience, is his cataloging of the treatment he received while he was hospitalized.
During my four-day stay in the hospital, I was seen by nine doctors.
Doctor Number One: My personal doctor’s backup replacement. (My personal doctor was on vacation.)
Doctor Number Two: The E.R. “admitting” doctor.
Doctor Number Three: The doctor in charge of the E.R.
Doctor Number Four: A cardiologist. (Who saw me a number of times, and also administered a test, described below.)
Doctor Number Five: A doctor specializing in infectious diseases. (There was a concern that, along with my heart valve problem, I also had an infection in that area.)
Doctor Number Six: The backup replacement to the doctor specializing in infectious diseases. (It was the weekend, and the original doctor specializing in infectious diseases was off.)
Doctor Number Seven: The backup replacement to the backup replacement to my personal doctor. (Ditto, the “weekend issue.”)
Doctor Number Eight: A urologist. (The treatment I was undergoing was affecting my kidneys.)
Doctor Number Nine: My personal doctor. (It was now Monday, and he had returned from vacation.)
Nine doctors. All of whom, presumably, got paid for their time and expertise.
Their conclusion: My heart valve needed repairing. And I didn’t have an infection.
Included in the treatment during my stay was
(I almost received two cardiograms, but I informed the second cardiogram technician I had just had a cardiogram twenty minutes earlier.)
A chest x-ray
(I would have received a treadmill stress test, but I was told that the stress test technician had gone home.)
And a test where they take pictures of your heart by lowering a camera down your throat. (This was administered by the cardiologist.)
I spent two days in Intensive Care.
I spent two subsequent days in the regular section of the hospital.
Every day, I submitted to at least two blood tests.
(One day, I had blood drawn twice in the same hour. Though the blood technician explained that an unfortunate mishap had occurred concerning the first batch, I strongly suspect the involvement of vampires.)
All that activity in four days.
Which made me wonder.
Was the level of treatment I received necessary, or excessive? Was it the result of scrupulous caution, or was it defensive, concerned less with my health than with potential litigation for negligence? I believe I have an answer to the second question. Based on the vibe I picked up from the doctors, I truly believe they were being sincerely and extraordinarily careful on my behalf.
Do I consider the level of treatment I received excessive? Three points on this question:
First, the treatment was for me, so, not surprisingly, I want it all.
Secondly, thankfully, my insurance will cover everything, so my concern here is more theoretical than bankrupting.
Thirdly, having no wisdom in the medical area whatsoever, I am in no position to determine whether the treatment I received was excessive or not.
It did seem like a lot. To the practiced eye, however, it may have been exactly what I needed.
1. Is it possible to determine a line between “exactly what you need” health care, and more health care than is actually necessary?
2. If it is, is it then possible for reasonable, fair and compassionate people, trained in such matters, to come to some consensus on the general location of that line?
3. If the line is locatable, is it morally acceptable to try and determine where it is, or would any efforts in that direction be considered rationing?
I don’t have the answers to these questions. But I think they’re worth asking.
It seems to me that if people received something in the area of “the right amount” of health care, and no more, there would be money available for more (hopefully all) people to get at least a minimal amount health care.
It seems to me.
But I’m just a reporter.
I can only tell you my story.
Hopefully, it can help.
Perhaps my Canadian readers can illuminate my American readers with their health care experiences.