Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A (medical) horror story

My wife shared this story with me the other day, of how a surgeon scrammed shortly after he was done with surgery just so he could start with another surgery on another patient, in another hospital.

Except he didn't wait till this patient was in recovery. And so, she started deconpensating; she started bleeding vaginally. Heavily. And the anesthesiologist tries calling the surgeon. Except he doesn't answer his pager.

Finally, after what seems to be an eternity, he calls back. And gruffly says that he is late, and doesn't want to bump the other case. Tells them to 'hold pressure'. He's not going to come back to this hospital. In other words, he doesn't want to cancel that other case to come back to deal with this. Read: It's going to cost him too much money in terms of OR time to cancel a case to come back to deal with this if this turns out to be a 'minor' problem.

And so the OR nurses and anesthesiologist are left with trying to stabilize a bleeding and potentially unstable patient for the next half hour. In the end, thing turned out OK. But the story gets us mad. Not that this is an exceptional case; I'm sure this happens in so many hospitals, because the truth is many doctors have privileges in multiple hospitals, something many may consider to be a mild conflict of interest. In this, my wife and I miss working at our alma mater. Yes, we're biased, but hell, I think for good reason. There's a good reason the WFMC is ranked the number 2 hospital in the country. The physicians and surgeons there simply are not out to make money- they're salaried and it doesn't matter if they rush to see more patients. And they see patients only in one medical center- they don't work in multiple systems.

And so, when people ask if I miss working in an academic institution, at the WFMC, deep in my heart, my answer seems clear. But I am here, and this is now, so it's pointless missing the past. All I can say is that I hope my loved ones are never under the care of a doctor like that.


Blogger Hua Jern said...

I have never grasped the logic nor practicality of working at multiple hospitals/sites. There is just no sense medically. and as a doctor, when something doesn't make sense medically, it shouldn't be done.

2:55 AM  
Anonymous mayan said...

quite hard to believe that happens in the states too.. unfortunately i think this happens all the time in msia.. in fact it's worse here.. coz the 'bosses' aren't running to another job, they're just too plain lazy to claim responsibility! especially the orthopods... always putting the blame on other teams, never reflecting on themselves!

6:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, unfortunately, it is symptomatic of a health care system based on capitalism. If you intend to make money out of medicine, it becomes increasingly difficult to regulate those greedy few who would put money before a human beings life.

8:38 AM  

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