The cuts healed in a few days, but months later, I am still dealing with the insurance aftermath and a lawyer. This is my recent healthcare experience in the USA that left me truly non-plussed.
On a visit to Reno in May this year, I had a close encounter with a wickedly sharp grater from Wholefoods while grating carrots. My healthy eating attempts took me to an emergency treatment center, concerned about the bleeding of my fingers that didn’t seem to stop in a reasonable amount of time. Perhaps stitches were required. At the emergency center, I was asked a barage of questions and signed several forms. Luckily I was not in pain.
The treatment hierarchy
I was then further questioned by a nurse, and taken to a treatment room. A second nurse came to look at my fingers. Of course the bleeding had stopped by this point and I was regretting not having waited a little longer before skipping dinner to seek treatment. Finally, a young doctor appeared to check out the laceration. Apparently I was the second carrot incident of the evening. The doctor decided on the treatment: basically some antiseptic ointment and a band-aid. A new person entered the room to deliver the treatment. He was not a nurse and I asked him if he was a paramedic. He replied that he was two steps below a paramedic. He then proceeded to apply ointment and a dressing to my finger under the supervision of the second nurse. No attempt was made to clean up the wound and by the time he’d finished rather clumsily wrapping on a bandage, I looked as if I’d broken several bones.
Hours, people, paper, dollars
The scene would have been comical if not for our acute awareness of how ludicrous all this involvement of paperwork and personnel was to apply a band-aid. The apex of this experience arrived with the bill: $715.oo. Fortunately, this was covered by my Canadian insurance company. All was well, I thought, until I received a letter from an American lawyer from a Revenue Recovery group, stating the bill was still unpaid. This letter triggered further phone calls and paperwork to ascertain that everything had indeed been taken care of and that this was an administrative error.
How many hours, professionals, staff and dollars were involved in this? How does this scale up for actual medical emergencies, and how can this possibly be sustainable? Something to ponder the next time you grate a carrot.