Thursday, October 23, 2008

Woman gets a hospital bill-- for not being seen.

Amber Milbrodt broke a bone in her leg playing volleyball and made it to the emergency room at Parkland Hospital in Dallas.

She waited for nineteen hours to see a doctor and was never seen, and so she finally left in disgust and still in pain. She did finally get some attention from the hospital though: a bill for $162.

She spent all night and the next day in that position, waiting to see a doctor.

Finally, she gave up and hobbled out in disgust.

Two weeks after her Sept. 24 visit, she received a bill from Parkland for $162.

"It should have been more like them paying me for having to sit in the emergency room for 19 hours," she says. "That's just sad. It's not proper. It's almost not moral, what I went through."

Parkland officials, already on the defensive about wait times after a man died in the ER following a 19-hour wait last month, say the charge was appropriate because a nurse spent time assessing Ms. Milbrodt for triage.

I've never been to the ER and had a nurse take my vital signs that lasted more than a few minutes.

It is appalling that she would have to wait this long in pain and still not be seen, but it is even more appalling that they would have the gall to send her a bill for it.

And we wonder why people in most other developed countries live longer than we do (well, I don't wonder, but doctrinaire conservatives who continue to stick their fingers in their ears will continue to wonder or come up with torturous logic to try and explain it all away).

It's time for the Obama health care plan. Now.


shrimplate said...

Intolerable. Nineteen hours waiting with a broken bone. That's exceptionally bad practice.

I would never work at such a place.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Blake,
WHat you seem to be unaware of is that this is the County Hospital, run by the Government. It has a long history of service problems, much like any government run Hospital. If the government were to tale over all health care, all hospitals would be just like this one.

Eli Blake said...


1. The same-- and worse-- stuff happens in privately managed hospitals. I blogged about one such incident right here.

2. Clearly you haven't read much about the Obama health care plan. It says nothing at all about nationalizing hospitals. What it says is that everyone should have access to insurance. Hospitals separate people who come into their waiting room into 'insured' (high service priority) and 'uninsured' (bottom service priority.) Unless you are about to die from a heart attack, if you come in without insurance then you will only be seen when/if there are no insured patients ahead of you (and every one of them that walks in the door, is automatically placed 'ahead' of you in the queue.)

The Obama plan would make insurance mandatory for kids and voluntary but made affordable (via government subsidies to the insurance industry) for everyone else. It is appalling that we mandate inurance on automobiles but not on people.)

Before you complain about the Obama plan, I'd suggest you read it, so that you can critique what it says, not what it doesn't say.

Shayna said...

I don't think a lot of people have really read Obama's health care plan... A lot of people just assume it is just like Canada's...

Obama '08... the only way to go. :)

I hope you are doing great, Eli!

shrimplate said...

If we can't trust our government with health care, then why would we trust them with defense? Or any other service?

Zach said...

The big problem is that hospitals, at least as far as emergency care go, pretty much have their own little monopolies. When somebody gets hit by a car, and they aren't treated right at a hospital:
a) They're not going to up and leave, going to the next one, with only a slightly better chance of actually being seen in a timely manner there.
b) They cannot just pass on the treatment altogether.
c) It's not like most people get hit by a car again the next week and need to again choose an emergency care facilities.
d) A lot of the time a bystander, the EMT, an ambulance service, etc. makes the call of where the person goes anyway.

So basically, even privately managed hospitals can run (at least in the emergency room) like a government monopolized industry.

If we could put an end to the culture of litigation that surrounds health care, we could make it affordable for hospitals to actually do what they're supposed to do, and increase competition. Even in non-emergency situations, we're quickly approaching the point of no competition. Here in Nevada, the last kidney transplant program is on the verge of being shut down. Soon emergency services won't be the only area in which hospitals can do whatever they want and still keep people coming