Poor People Hellthcare: Harmful Hospital Stays


Lex - Posted on 09 April 2013

Author: 
Ethan Davidson / Revolutionary Blog Series

I knew that the pills the nurse was holding were the wrong ones.  But she kept insisting I take them.  A gurney was waiting to take me upstairs for more tests.  I swallowed the pills and climbed onto the gurney.  They wheeled me next to a room where a woman kept saying “no” in a loud, pleading voice.  I asked a nurse what was going on.  She explained that a woman was having a very painful procedure on her foot, and could not tolerate pain killers.  As I felt my blood pressure drop, I heard her cry out “no. please!”  This was my experience of the American health care system.
      My experience was not unique.  Health care in this country is in crisis.  Studies show that A quarter of all patients are harmed during hospital stays.  A common cause of hospital death is giving people the wrong drugs. Twenty to thirty percent of all procedures and tests are unnecessary.
   And this is just the average.  Studies have shown that the worst American hospitals treat twice the number of poor and elderly African American patients as the best ones.  And these hospitals have twice the rate of death from Pneumonia, which is generally preventable.
  How do some people wind up in the relatively good hospitals and some in the very poor ones?  One can not find out which hospitals, doctors, specialists or surgeons are good by going on Yelp, as people now commonly do for restaurants or hotels.  And even the good medical personnel have a code to not reveal the bad ones.  You can't tell by how they act.  Often, the worst doctors have the most pleasant personality's, and thus are loved by colleges and patients alike, despite their poor safety records.
  So people usually choose there hospitals by default.  They go to the closets place that takes whatever insurance they have. if any.  And this is how the poor and minority patients wined up in the worst places.
   I live in the Tenderloin district, and my insurance is medi-cal.  Perhaps that is why I wound up lieing on a stretcher, blood pressure needlessly drooping, listening to  the screams of a woman whose consent was being violated.  As, in a subtler way, had mine.

PNN RADIO

Sign-up for POOR email!