Archives for February 12, 2007

Movin’ Meat thinks about EMTALA

Movin’ Meat: In which I shall make an unpopular argument. Actually, he argues against his own unpopular argument, but it’s an interesting discussion.

I have a different idea, in his comments. Read the article, and comment there.

Treat Everyone the Same

Two decades ago I read a terrific autobiography of a man who had specialized in Infectious disease, and had treated kings, monarchs, the rich and powerful, and just regular people.  Over and over in his book he’d point out that the Rich and Famous (R&F) get worse medical care than the general public because the system got changed to accommodate the demands of the R&F.

In fact he realized it, and when consulted to help with the case of a European Monarch (?50’s?) with pneumonia, his deal was that the monarch would check into a public hospital under an assumed name, stay on a regular floor, and get the same care everyone else got.  He recovered.

Everyone in medicine has seen it, and it stinks: they’re rich/powerful/connected, and so the normal patterns and flow don’t apply, usually to the detriment of the one who thinks they’re getting special treatment.  Yes, it’s special, all right.

Dr. Tim (from Left Brain) had his original post picked up at BlogCritics, and it’s a told-to-be-true tale of exactly the same behavior, gone nuts:

VIP Syndrome

If he gets worse, we will take him immediately to the operating room.  JVIP agrees to this plan, but soon becomes agitated in the ER. “When am I going to get my room,” he complains to the ER nurse, followed by, “It smells in here. Did someone crap their pants?” followed by “There are drunks in here, get me out of here right now!” The ER nurse, then the ER physician, as well as the residents, explain that the hospital is very full, but they are working as fast as they can to obtain an available bed as soon as possible. JVIP tells them to hurry, and make sure it’s a private room. But after one more hour of being in the ER, JVIP decides he can’t stand it any more, and checks out Against Medical Advice.

Being a (Junior) VIP, he is incensed by his “shabby” treatment, and uses his connections to contact the local newspaper outlet, the local television news outlet, the mayor’s office, and several prominent friends who are tight with the hospital board members….

Read it, as it’s a modern immorality tale, and a cautionary one as well.