Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Hospital Charges For Waiting
Parkland Hospital normally commands a lot of respect. It's the public hospital for Dallas County. If you don't have any insurance or much money, then it's probably your choice for healthcare. In fact, for the poor of Dallas it's their only option. But it sounds like lately they're leaving a lot to be desired.
Take the hospital experience of Amber Joy Milbrodt. Milbrodt is a chiropractic student in Dallas. She had an accident and broke her leg. She knew it was broken because she got an x-ray at her school. Being a student, she had little money and no insurance. She went to Parkland Hospital.
She knew she would have to wait to see a doctor, but she had no idea just how long that wait would be. After she had been there for 3 1/2 hours, a nurse came out and checked her vital signs. Surely her wait was nearly over. But after another 15 1/2 hours, she was still waiting. She gave up and went home.
She rested for a few days and then put the leg in a brace. Then she got the bill from Parkland. They couldn't find the time to give her any medical care, but they still charged her $162. That's some pretty expensive waiting!
The hospital said they had charged her for the nurse taking her vital signs -- not the waiting. But that sounds a bit ridiculous. $162 dollars for someone to take your blood pressure and tempature? Milbrodt should be glad they didn't give her an aspirin. That would have probably cost her another $100.
Just a few days before this, a 58 year-old man also had a 19-hour wait at the hospital. Then he died of a heart attack. It doesn't sound like Parkland is doing a very good job. No one should have to wait 19 hours for treatment, whether for a broken leg or a heart problem. That kind of wait tells me the hospital emergency room is not adequately staffed. That can and should be fixed -- even if the county has to cough up a few more dollars.
Obviously, our healthcare system is broken. But until we are willing to cover everyone with health insurance (like all other industrialized countries), the county hospitals are the only option for the poor. As long as that is true, these hospitals must be adequately staffed. No one should have to wait 19 hours or die in the waiting room.
Milbrodt says she's not going to pay the $160. I don't blame her since she received no medical care. As for the other gentleman, the hospital going to have to pay for that negligence.