Official Frank Serpico Blog
Saturday, January 07, 2006
MEDICAL INCOMPETENCE OR CORRUPTION
It all started after a five year on-off search for a doctor to repair a minor hernia that was more annoying than bothersome.
I have a thing about trusting someone enough to let them come near me with a knife, especially if I am sedated.
I finally found such a doctor, an ex-Army Major, a Viet Nam and Korean vet. "It's a simple out patient procedure" he assured me. "When do you want to do it?" he asked. "Let's get it over with" I said. "How about Wednesday?" "Great." "You will have to go to St.Peter's Hospital on Monday for blood work." That's where my nightmare started. At St. Peters Hospital in Albany,
I walked into the nurse's office and while waiting my turn spotted a poster barely visible behind a table. It aroused my suspicion so I pulled it out and read it. Hum, THE PATIENTS BILL OF RIGHTS. Did it fall or was it pushed, I mused. Yes I'm the suspicious type, especially when it comes to doctors. I've been burnt before, thus the five year hesitation. My turn comes and I inform the nurse that I don't do well with blood work and I've been known to pass out. "Oh,not to worry" she says, "it's all in the way you do it." Great, I thought. I remembered when I got discharged from the Army I had to hold the test tube and wait for it to fill with blood before themedic relieved me of it. I didn't pass out then.Now let's see what her secret is. She sat me into a padded blue vinyl chair and lowered a bar accross my lap. I thought, good that will keep me from falling over. She started taking the blood and before long I said to to her "I'M GOING."When I came to she had her knee jammed into my waist to keep me from hitting the floor. Two guys picked me up and put me on a guerney.(If you have never passed out the feeling when you are coming to is total disorientation.) The next thing I'm in the emergency room and a doctor sticks a paper in my face and says "Sign this." Thank God I read the patients bill of rights. "I ain't signing nothing" I said. He says "You're having a coronary, we can save your life!" Oh my God I'm affraid to move, I thought I was in good shape and now I'm having a coronary. Just breath easy, I assure myself, they are going to split me like a chicken I'm thinking, it's going to be hell but I'm in a hospital known for its heart care. I start shivering like crazy, "It's cold in here", I say, "can I have a blanket?'"Cold?" says the doctor, "It's warm in here." Son of a bitch, I think to myself, is this the assurance I get? "Give me a blanket" I demand in my weakened state. They got me hooked up to a monitor, EKG, IV etc. I hear someone shout "his rate is down to 40, we got to take more blood!" "Dont take any more blood" I protest.
(I have a bullet in my head from an old line of duty injury as a Police Officer.)
Now they are rushing me down the hall for an MRI. Into the tunnel, easy, easy now, stay calm. Out of the tunnel, back to emergency, waiting. By now I'm coming out of it and getting more ticked by the minute. "Can I get a bowl of soup?" I ask. "Oh you want a soup and sandwich?" "No, just a bowl of soup." The cardiologist appears again like the dread reaper and solomly drones "did you know you had a coronary?' "What! When!" "We don't know, but you have a small spot on your brain." (Right what else DON'T you know? Are you sure it's not a bullet fragment?" "Well we did see a piece of metal by your left temple" "Just one?!" "Yes." "Well YOU better go back and look again... Hey let me ask you, how much is all this going to cost me?" "Oh don't worry" he says, "the way we write it up your insurance will cover it." "Well, isn't that nice. Look, can I just get a bowl of soup?" "Oh, you want a soup and sandwich?" I'm fully recovered now and reaching my limit. "What's with the friggin soup and sandwich routine, you have a special on today?" "I'll show you what we got." They crank up my bed and bring in a tray with a cup of tomato soup, a roast turkey on whole wheat bread and a cup of tea. Wow how cool is that... whole wheat bread in a hospital.The soup tasted like corn syrup, nope not for me. I'll try the sandwich, I was really hungry. UGHH! I spit it out. "This is saltier than hell," I exclaim. "Salty?" says the good doctor. "Why, that is a low sodium diet special for heart patients." "Well, first of all, I'm not a friggin heart patient and is this how you keep them coming back? Must be good for business." I've totaly had it now but figure what the heck while I'm here I'll ask. "Say you have all this equiptment and experts, why don't you tell me why I passed out?" "Oh, you see you have vaso vagel syncapy" "What, what the hell is that? Is it contagious?" "No, it just means you pass out sometimes when they take your blood." I'm about to cream this guy. "Then why the hell you got me hooked up to all this and putting me through grief? I told the nurse I was going to pass out!" "You did? Well, she should have had you lay down. Next time, insist on it.""There aint going to be no next time and I'm out of here." I pulled off my attachments and walked out.Wednesday I go for my out patient procedure. The nurse says "I hear you had a problem at the hospital." "I didn't have a problem, they did" "Are you going to be all right?" "Are you going to take any blood?" "No." "I'll be fine." "Your O.K. with I.V.?""Yep, hook me up." She hooked me up and gave me some general anesthesia, I closed
my eyes and felt something by my right elbow and opened my eyes. It was the doctor, the Major, not the hack at the hospital. "Are you going to make the incision now, Doc?" I asked. "I'm all done , you can go home as soon as you can stand up." "Watch this Doc." I stood up and walked out. I stopped on the way home for a bowl of soup.
The bill for blood work? Over $5,000.00. The hack sent the bill collectors after me for the $75.00 my insurance didin't cover.
The bill for the operation not even close to half.God bless the MAJOR AND FOR ALL THE WORK HE DID FOR me and THE TROOPS.
P.S. THIS IS THE SHORTENED VERSION.I STILL HAVE RECURRING NIGHTMARES ABOUT THE HACK'S MISDIAGNOSIS.I MAY STILL SUE HIM FOR DAMAGES.