Three hours in the ER
$9466.03: that's what the bill comes to for a tad less than three hours in the ER.
Insurance paid $7099.55 and the balance has been automatically "waived." How generous!!!
(Please note that the radiologist's bill hasn't shown up yet--I think we all know how that works.)
It really doesn't matter who the patient is, does it?
For this all inclusive price, our winner received:
1) Basic blood work-- that he didn't need.
2) A portable CXR-- which he did need.
3) An IV of normal saline-- yes, necessary.
4) Routine telemetry monitoring and some O2-- necessary.
5) Nothing else, no CT Scan, no MRI-- nothing else.
No neurochecks were done. One of the few times in medicine when it's actually necessary to shine that silly little penlight into someone's eyes-- and it doesn't get done-- for ten thousand dollars. Actually, I'm not being quite honest. At discharge I kindly asked the nurse if she'd "mind" checking his pupils-- like she'd have a clue of what to look for anyway.
I used the term "neurochecks" when I spoke to her and she looked like she'd been tasered. I hate to ask but it's just that since he fell down and largely destroyed a wall in the process that maybe--if it's not too much trouble--you could make sure he isn't hemorrhaging.
No nurse saw the patient for a one and one-half hour period while I sat at the bedside and watched them pass by.
No one noticed two "episodes" of bradycardia into the forties-- and other associated activity which occurred during that time. The alarms were off. But I noticed.
In short, no one did anything. Unless, unless, one considers being greeted at discharge by the ever so good looking and over friendly, unctuous, patronizing, and happily condescending ER doctor who blithely reassured me that everything's fine.
My own personal thoughts during that session, unspoken, went to something along the lines of:
you have three seconds to take your nitwit paws off of each of my respective shoulders before I take them off for you-- the same neurologic activity that precipitated this little excursion has now occurred twice in your ER and none of you even knows it-- and no--everything isn't "fine."
In the end, I smiled and said nothing. Silence and a smile in the face of incompetence and ignorance is my latest defense mechanism.
Is it be too overwrought, too much of an exaggeration, to just go ahead and call it ten thousand dollars?
In any other setting-- it'd be called "fraud" to take that kind of money from someone--people would be labeled as felons and sent to prison and have their rights as a citizen permanently revoked-- but not American healthcare.
1) Thank God for insurance.
2) This can't possibly last