Tuesday, August 30, 2011

L's first real experience of discrimination

Saturday morning L woke up with his foot hurting. He was having problems walking and slept most of the day to escape the pain. By 6pm he finally decided to go to the ER to get his foot checked since he was still in a lot of pain and barely limping along. I was working that evening so I grabbed my latop, the kids and drove him to the hospital. In order to not have to be inside the ER with three kids and to be able to work I just dropped him off at the ER entrance, parked and went back to work (side note: LOVE that I am able to work wherever I am as long as I have internet access).

I had prepared myself for a lengthy wait since it was a Saturday and they tend to be very busy but less than an hour later he called me to come pick him up. I could tell that he was furious and was wondering what happened.

As normal when asked if on any meds and health history, his bipolar and PTSD was mentioned. And that is when he said things went bad. Instead of asking more questions about his hurting foot he was asked when he last saw his mental health professional, if he was taking his meds, asked how he got to the ER ('Did you walk yourself here?), and made to walk up and down the hall way for the nurse. He never saw a doctor and was sent home without anyone taking a real look at his foot and with a prescription for noninflammatories which he refused to get filled since he is convinced they are just placebos anyway.

How can the medical profession handle a patient that way? Even if he WAS making it up for some reason, did they not have the duty to check to make SURE it really was nothing? At least bandage his foot up if it is a sprain? Treat him without accusing him of lying?

Luckily his foot is getting better so it appears to have been nothing serious. His mood took a huge hit though. Any healthy person hates not being taken seriously. For L it opened a whole different can of worms. Anger at being treated that way. Anger at being mentally ill. Fear of not getting better. All now followed by another bout of depression when he had just started getting out of a depressive phase.

I cannot always be with him when he goes to the ER, but I know that at least for the near future he will insist on it to have someone there to 'put in a good word for him' when he might not be able to articulate his own needs too well. That means I would have to find someone to cover for me at work, take three kids to the ER with us or hope his grandparents can help out. And that is if he is willing to go back.

This morning I called the patient advocate and I do have to say that I was VERY pleased with her reply. She took mine and L's concerns seriously and promised to not just look at his records from that night but also speak to the staff involved as well as the director of the ER. Now I am waiting for her to follow up with me. If nothing else, maybe L's experience will lead to the ER looking at its procedures when it comes to dealing with mentally ill patients coming in to receive care.


Ashlee @ A Housewife Manifesto said...

That is horrible! How can they treat someone that way? That makes me mad, seriously angry. How rude, just because he's bipolar and has PTSD he HAS to be making up his injury, and he MUST be lying. I don't think so! What, was that nurse so ignorant as to think that people with bipolar disorder and/or PTSD can't feel pain...ugh!

Good for you for calling the advocate! I hope she gets something done about this and some changes are put into place!

A. said...

my first experience with discrimination was also in a hospital. I filed a complaint with the dept. and with the state.

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