My first hand medical event was when I took my friend to the hospital on medical amnesty for alcohol poisoning. This happens a lot on MSU’s campus and the Sparrow ER team has seen this multiple times before.
I have a lot of negatives about this event other than the obvious reasons of taking a friend to the hospital. She was unresponsive and had hit her head multiple times so we were unsure of the cause of her unconsciousness- whether that be the alcohol or the multiple head injuries. The EMT’s that arrived and took my friend and I to the hospital did not seem rushed- which was understandable since they assumed she was unresponsive because of the alcohol and not the head injuries. We arrived at Sparrow and she was given an initial check up and despite not being able to say her name was placed in the waiting room. She was unresponsive in the waiting room for 3 hours without medical attention even though I mentioned to the nurse I could not get her to move at all- she had stopped drinking 4 hours prior. Eventually, she fell out of her chair and I was unable to get her back up so the nurses helped her into a secondary waiting room. 2 hours later, she was still unconscious and was finally given a hallway bed. They finally addressed the head injuries I had mentioned multiple times by giving her a head CT. A phlebotomist came by and tried to take her blood but couldn’t because my friend was rolling around; she left multiple bruises and finally decided to insert the needle in her hand rather than her arm. They came by multiple times asking for insurance information, which I did not know, and because it was six in the morning at this point, I could not get into contact with her mother since her phone was locked and I did not know the password. Seven hours after I arrived I was able to get a hold of the president for a club we are involved in and she gave me her emergency contact so that I could call her mother and get her insurance information. After her mother was able to give her insurance information, I noticed a huge difference in the interest and attentiveness to her well being by the nurses. However, at no point did she ever get an IV and I left once a friend came to stay with her since I had to go to work that morning- she was still unconscious. Talking to her the next day I found out that here blood alcohol level was .22 six hours after she had stopped drinking. The doctor’s informed her that there was permanent damage to her organs because of how high her BAC was. My negative about this experience is that they had no way of knowing her insurance information from her name, ID- I think this would have been helpful because they would have been less reluctant to treat her had they known it would be covered by insurance. Additionally, she clearly would have benefited from an IV or some type of fluid. Yes she did put herself in that situation and yes she is the reason that she has permanent damage because she had a few too many, I still think she deserved to be treated and taken more seriously by health professionals- this is what they are here to do, not to judge how she ended up in this position or if she has the money to fix it but simply to help and do no harm.
This is a very personal issue for me because I am extremely close to my friend and we have been through a lot together so I may have expected the nurses and doctors to treat her the way I would have if I had been in their shoes. However, I think this story speaks volumes about the state of our national health care and the limited options someone without insurance may face.
This is also not to say anything bad about healthcare professionals, all of whom I respect and am grateful for.