Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Sad Sign of the Times

Most days are just busy at work but no stories to tell. You have to be careful about not violating privacy laws and such so no names here.

A couple of days ago one of our longtime patients came in with a problem. His eye was red, hurting, and his vision was down. He wasn't sure if he was doing the right thing by coming in to the office but it took our doctor 2 seconds to tell that he had developed an infection inside his eye. This can happen because of the surgery that he had had on his eye years ago. It leaves him with an increased risk of infection that if it happened could make him lose the eye completely. If this infection is caught early it can be treated with massive doses of antibiotics and sometimes it is necessary for the patient to be hospitalized.

We don't treat this problem normally but we send the patient immediately to a doctor in our building that treats them and then sends them back to us after the problem is resolved. So that is what we did that day.

Well, a few minutes later we got a call from that office telling us that they were refusing to treat the patient because he had a previous bill of $106 and didn't have the money to pay the old bill. The office policy could not be compromised even so the man would not lose his eye. The doctor did tell our doctor what to prescribe for the patient. And they sent him back to us to treat.

The patient had previously asked me for a sample of his regular eye drops because he said that he had no money and he could barely keep his heat on in his house. I gave him a sample and took a quick look at the front sheet of his chart to see how old he was. I thought to myself that he probably never thought that he would be in that financial situation in his retirement years. The new drops that were needed for the infection are very expensive, there are no samples, and can be only obtained from a small pharmacy near us. Insurance rarely covers them.

Our doctor told us the next day that he couldn't justify that the money he might spend on a nice dinner with his family could save a patent's eye. He got out his credit card and paid for the medication over the phone. The patient left to go pick up his eye drops at the pharmacy.


IB said...

A great story. It gives me hope.

Times are fuckin tough on people right now. Not all of us. I get that. Those of us who are fortunate need not look far to see many opportunities to help. And it's probably gonna get worse. But help we must.

T said...

This was a feel good story at the end, but very sad indeed. Your Doctor has a very kind heart.

We see this all the time, and it is just so very sad, what is this world coming to?

Thanks for sharing and reminding us there are some good people still out there.

Caffeine Court said...

That story has so many lessons in it.

It reminds me that we need to be very careful now, because it would be horrible to be in that man's situation in 20 or 30 years.

It also reminds me about priorities. It's so much more important to help others than to indulge ourselves.

Your boss sounds like a very good man.

Anonymous said...

That's a wonderful thing your boss did.

Andrea said...

It's good to know that there are kindhearted people still in this world...I'm so glad you shared this with us!

Jeanne said...

One of the things I love, love, love about working at the clinc is our Community Pharmacy. It's not unusual for us to hand a patient $500 worth of drugs -- for free. But none of us are paying for them out of our pocket. Your doctor is a great guy (with, as near as I can tell, excellent taste in jokes).

Far Side of Fifty said...

What a nice thing for your Doctor to do. Recently at a local pharmacy, an elderly woman did not have enogh money to pay for her prescription so the two ladies behind her in line chipped in..
It does give me hope for all of humanity. :)

Samurai Beetle said...

I really bitterly hate the health care system in our country

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness there are good people out there. Your story makes me shutter to image how bad things have gotten for sick people in the US.

NG said...