I took my friend to the ER and we were anxiously awaiting test results. Friendly nurses had drawn blood, run an IV and were very helpful. We had not yet seen a doctor yet. Finally, she strode in. “We have to admit you to the hospital. You have blah blah blah,” uttering some medical terminology we didn’t understand.
My friend, lying in bed, looked alarmed. But she didn’t ask about “blah blah blah” but said, “I don’t have medical insurance. How much will this cost?”
The doctor glared back and in a stern voice answered,
“You can turn and talk to that wall about prices. I don’t know. I’m here to save your life.”
Turn and talk to that wall?! I couldn’t believe it. Isn’t treating the patient treating the whole patient? Isn’t handling patient stress and emotional health part of recovery?
I know, I know…we were in the ER–handles acute stuff and punts over to others (thank God this Doc didn’t choose primary care as her specialty). But still, would it have been that hard to have said something else like, “I don’t know how much it’s going to cost, but I do know we see many people without health insurance. I will send someone to talk to you about your options.”
Talk to the wall? Come on, Doc, time to take a break and go find your compassion again.