Out of respect for the patient involved and his family, I'm going to keep things anonymous for now. This is not only to help maintain his dignity, but also to ensure he doesn't start getting worse care or even kicked out of the facility he's in. So, I'll call the patient, Bert. And, Bert lives in a Dallas suburb, is a senior citizen, and has been fighting cancer for some time now. This is his second bout with cancer, but it is a different kind -- apparently once you've beaten cancer once, you're more likely to "catch" it again, even if the original body part/organ is no longer there.
Following this section, you can read the basics of this story, but I want to make sure you don't stop reading before you hear what kind of hell Dallas, TX is for anyone with an illness or disability. This is the thing -- this isn't my first observation of Dallas healthcare being incompetent, uncaring, and inhumane. And none of those three words are exaggerations by any means.... So, Bert was released form the hospital into the care of a rehabilitation hospital. His floor seems to be filled with transplant patients, transplants of some sort or another. This place is as fabulous as a state run nursing home (something else I know enough about), and there's nothing fabulous about that. In fact, we walked by a woman begging for help, quietly, but begging. We saw several nurses, aides, whatever walk past her and ignore her, pleading to be immediately taken to the bathroom. We had to ask someone to help her.
Bert was dropped off the other day. He didn't see a nurse, admissions person, dr, or any other employee of the "care" facility for over 2 hours. He has specific dietary needs and it took them over 24 hours to get the dietician to him. He didn't see the doctor for over 24 hours after being admitted. I watched a nurse flip her hair and take her sweet little time, as Bert was begging for help to the bathroom. A blood tech came in to take blood, we informed him Bert had a port, and he said that a nurse had to do it, walked out, never came back and we never saw a nurse to pull blood before we left. Today, his catheter got pulled or something during his physical therapy (PT), started bleeding and leaking, and 3 hours later it hasn't been dealt with.
This is sick. I've been in the hospital several times, had 20+ surgeries, and been in several hospitals in 2 states. I got nurses fired in Lincoln for mistreating me. Now, if these people are treating patients that can speak up this way, how the hell are they treating the people that can't communicate? Is this how they would care for their mother, father or child? I think not.
In fact, one of my experiences in Dallas: the same ortho that saw Bert in the hospital saw me a couple years ago, after I found out I needed another fusion. He left me waiting for 3 hours past my appointment time, walked in, looked at me and told me that he doesn't do that surgery. Two days later, his nurse called to schedule it. I said, "Dr. Guess told me he doesn't do that surgery!" She said, "oh, he does it all the time, what do you mean?"
So, in Denver, CO the squeaky wheel gets the grease, in Dallas, the patients, scared, mistreated, and sick, are treated even worse if they alert anyone to the fact that the entire facility should be sued for malpractice....
OK, so, here are the basics of this story. Bert was diagnosed with cancer by chance -- he bent over to pick something up and had severe pain in his chest. Luckily he was already at the hospital, as a visitor, and the nurse brought him a wheelchair and they took him to the ER. Over the course of the next few days, things were a mess -- first, the ER doc diagnosed cancer. Then, the orthopedic doc said, no way, it's not cancer. Then the oncologist said, it's definitely cancer. Then, the ortho came in the room and argued with the Onco about whether or not it was cancer -yes, in front of us. Eventually, I don't know how many days later, the ortho backed down and the Onco won, it was cancer. Between the arguing doctors and the battling diagnoses, we had little time to think and even less time to act -- this was serious. We agreed, with the doctors in the hospital, that Bert would not be leaving the hospital (a famous hospital in Dallas which I'd like to refrain from naming at this time) until we a) had a firm and definite diagnosis and 2) had a solid, set-in-stone treatment plan. We had all those things before we left the hospital. We knew treatment would start with some chemo and/or radiation at a specific cancer clinic, and that after some chemo they would grow stem cells for him, from him, and then implant them. That step would involve a 2-4 weeks hospital stay, some time at a rehab hospital, then homebound for at least 6 months. Then, the medical professionals started changing appointments, claiming they had other patients worse off that needed to get in first.... When we left the hospital in July, the stem cell implant was going to be in January. He just had them done the beginning of April.
Now, let's talk