Week 1 Blog Post

A medical event I have encountered in the medical system is watching my best friend’s mom battle with Lupus. One day, my friend’s mom was experiencing a flare up. A flare up means that she is experiencing all the symptoms at once and at a very intense level. Her symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, and more. She is a very strong woman, so she tries to use the hospital as the last resort, but if she feels she can’t make it through the night she ends up going. We took her to Harper Emergency Room in Detroit, Michigan to get the treatment she needed in order to lessen the pain of her symptom levels. Lupus is an incurable disease which means that the symptoms can only be minimized and not stopped completely. When we arrived, we didn’t receive any help maneuvering her from the car to a wheelchair. Normally, my friend would push her inside the building so that the receptionist can get started with the paperwork while he goes to park the car in emergency parking. That was not the case this time. Once we made it back in and the paperwork was done, we then had to wait 15 minutes for a nurse to call her back to take her vitals. This is very unfair to patients because if somebody comes to the emergency room, that means they are seeking immediate medical attention and they should not have to wait long periods of time for help.

After making it through the questioning by the receptionist, she is finally put in an emergency room. Her pain levels were still at an extreme high and she still had to wait 45 minutes to an hour before the doctors could analyze the problems and run tests. On this particular day, my friend’s mom was told that patients with chronic diseases cannot receive medication through the emergency room. We didn’t understand this because she doesn’t use the emergency room as a gateway for drugs. Although the hospital is located in downtown Detroit and drug addicts in the area abuse the system, that does not mean everybody is only coming in for that reason. She is already prescribed pills to consume daily, but once her flare up starts, the only thing that helps is the combination of rest and stronger medication only prescribed in the hospital. Hearing that instantly made my friend and I angry with the medical system because she has a medical history and we thought the doctors could easily check her file to see that she doesn’t come frequently. When she goes to the hospital, they run tests and give her the pills she is already prescribed. Doctors notice she still is in pain then they tell her to stay a few days and give her stronger drugs. After a few days of rest and medication she starts to feel better and they discharge her. I think hospitals should follow this same routine based off her history on file when dealing with her Lupus because it works for her. However, whenever she goes in, they always put her through the same situation with having to wait long periods of time while in excruciating pain until she finally receives treatment. After we were told that information by the nurse, and not receiving any help at all, my friend immediately got his mom dressed and we left the hospital without signing any papers or notice. We then had to find another hospital that we thought would treat her properly and promptly.

My friend’s mother has been on government assistance since 2000 due to her disease. Since she can’t physically work, she relies on her assistance to pay several bills, which means her expensive medical bills get put to the side. She has insurance, but since she only has government assistance and other bills like electricity and water for her house, she isn’t able to pay the co-pay. My friend and I believe the hospital rejected her and didn’t give her medical attention because of her outstanding bills, however they withheld this information from us. We also think this could explain why the nurses might have though she came to emergency to receive drugs when her real reason was just to treat her Lupus symptoms. These negative experiences have altered my thoughts and feelings about the American medical system and I think if patients like my friend’s mom are being rejected due to past due balances, then they should be aware of that and offered more financial help in order to pay these very expensive costs. In fact, patients shouldn’t be denied treatment at all, if that was actually their reason.

4 thoughts on “Week 1 Blog Post

  1. Hey Ashley, first I want to start off by saying that I hope that your friend’s mom gets better. The experience that she has had with the medical system is just not right. This has been happening too much to many people that do not have the financial needs to cover these expensive bills. I agree that the medical system and the government in fact, should try better to help people out. The United States has a lot of money that they are taking from taxpayers. What exactly are they doing with the money? Do they think it is more important to give this money to the military to go to different countries and kill people or would it be better to invest the money into their own citizens and helping them out? I believe that there is a lot more help that the government could offer to people to get the medical attention that they need, but they are ignoring these problems so they can invest their money into what they want instead.

  2. As the most developed economy in the world, the United States has the most advanced medical technology, the most advanced medical treatment programs, and the highest quality medical personnel. At the same time, the medical performance of the United States has long been criticized, and the medical expenses are the highest in the world. The total health expenditure accounts for 18% of GDP. Also, about 15% of the population still does not have any medical insurance, and the average life expectancy per capita is the second lowest among OECD countries. These two facts make many people think that the US medical system is extremely unsuccessful. Last month, I went to the emergency room to treat a fever, I got a fever about two days and that’s my first time went into the US emergency room. I felt so dizzy and need treatment immediately, however, I wait for an hour to get medicine and this cost me 100 dollars(my health insurance already cover 90%). If I am in China, I just need 30 minutes to treat my fever with the lower price.

  3. Hi Ashley,
    I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s mom, and hope she has had better experiences with hospitals since this happened. I’ve also seen people struggle with finding proper medical care while fighting a chronic disease. Using the emergency room while in the midst of a flare up can be tricky. Some urgent care centers, and even hospitals, turn patients away that have chronic diseases. Does your friend’s mom have a primary care physician that treats her chronic pain/illness? Sometimes using this physician may be better than seeking out treatment through the emergency room.
    It’s unfortunate that your friend’s mom couldn’t receive the pain medication that she needed at first. I know recently there have been laws regulating how high of a dose a doctor is allowed to prescribe a patient. I’m not sure if this was what stopped her from getting her higher dose of medication in the emergency room, but chronic pain sufferers could be affected by a one size fits all model for prescriptions. Regardless, I hope your friend’s mom was able to find the care that fits her needs the best.

  4. Hello Ashley, I am so sorry to hear about this awful emergency room experience. I have also experienced taking my dad to the ER for a perceived heart attack and he wasn’t seen until 2 hours after we arrived. Luckily it was just a panic attack, but overall, it is horrible how long people in the ER have to wait for a mediocre experience and mediocre help. It makes you wonder what the deciding factor is for who gets to be seen first, as your friend’s mother should have been. On another note, it is unfortunate how finances play into a person’s health. With all the money citizens pay to the government through taxes, you would think we could at least have free health care. I think it is ridiculous how our money is being used partially to hurt people in other countries instead of focusing on our own citizens and protecting their lives through the health care system. Do you think things like wait times and better attention/ care would be present if more funds were allocated toward medicine and hospitals?

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