I had some tests done recently, blood work and such; when the results came back I was told I needed to see a specialist. I was sent on my way, with a promise that my doctor’s office would call me with an appointment time. Which they did yesterday and the conversation went something like this:
“Ms. Browne we have an appointment for you, have you got a pen?”
"You See Dr. LongnameIcan’tpronounce on March 9th, at 2:15”
‘I’m sorry did you say March 9th?” I asked a little shrilly.
“Opps, sorry, it is March 13th”
I almost asked her: "Of what year?", but I held my tongue. When I hung up the phone my emotions were swinging from total shock to a festering anger- with a little fear in the mix just to make it more interesting. Whatever is wrong with you, I told myself in calming tones, it can’t be serious- you would be in before next year if it were serious. Right?
All the emotions and worry I was feeling dialed up several degrees when the phone rang again later that evening. My Aunt C. had a cyst removed a week ago today. It made its presence known rather suddenly, and due to its size it needed to come out quickly and be tested. I was home then at the time, and I visited her in the hospital, she was tired and uncomfortable, but she was hanging in there. When I got back to Ontario I called to see how she was doing, she was still nauseated and really warm, but she felt she was doing better. It turns out she wasn’t.
They “nicked the bowel” when they removed the cyst. She is in hospital now, for more testing and surgery. And I can tell you folks, my anger now is a wild animal gnawing away at my insides.
I understand that Doctors are not gods I understand that they can make mistakes. As much as I want to strangle her doctor with his own stethoscope I know human error is rarely the whole story. This is endemic of a long chain of system failures. I can blame the doctor all I want but that won’t help my Aunt, nor will it prevent others form suffering the same way. I know that many doctors in Canada, especially rural Canada, are overworked. They are tired and that makes them prone to making more mistakes. But while I can see how mistakes can happen, it does not excuse it. We need to take a serious look at health care: the whole of it.
I don’t want to see us go the way of the US, with HMOs running the show. Their system only works for those who can afford it. However, what we have here isn’t working well either. This is not a problem that will be solved by throwing more money at it; this is something that can’t be fixed just with cash.
Why are we allowing so many Doctors to graduate and head south? Is there really nothing we can come up with to entice them to stay? Why are we using marks the main prerequisite for getting into medical school? Don’t we know that there is more to taking care of someone than just memorizing symptoms? What happened to quality control within a hospital? How do you open someone up and remove the ovary instead of the cyst? How do you sew someone up without checking for things like a nicked bowel, or sponges left in the abdomen?
I don’t have the answers, I just have a lot of questions. And a million worries.