Becky (becky_h) wrote in bad_service,

Bad ER Service.

I avoid going to the doctor, never mind the hospital, unless I think there is something wrong. I don't go unless I am legitimately concerned that a limb is going to fall off, I will suffer serious irreversible damage, or I am in danger of dying if I don't. Part of this is because of my mother being a nurse; I don't want to bother people. Part of it is honest to god hospital-phobia.

I went tonight because I fell on my knee and had it almost immediately go 'pins and needles' and stay that way for an hour. I've dislocated that knee several times before, it can be kind of wobbly and my leg going numb after a hard fall worried me quite a bit. Especially since every internet site I could find that dealt with knee injuries said 'This is worth an ER trip'. So, I sucked it up, gathered my courage, brushed my teeth and went.

When I got there I got taken in quickly - front door to triage in about thirty seconds. Remember how I'm afraid of hospitals - yeah. Plus, I was in pain because my knee did hurt, dammit! So, I was in triage and trying to take my sweatshirt off so they could take my blood pressure and couldn't quite get it because it's one of those university ones that's cut a little narrow and long rather than wide and short.

I finally managed, they took my blood pressure and pulse. Both were, supposedly, sky high. My hands were also shaking. They asked me if I'd taken anything for my knee. My answer? No, but I had excedrine a couple of hours ago. They asked me to rate the pain. I said, and this is important later, "About four - it hurts but most of my concern is the numbness." They nodded, smiled, and moved me into a cubicle to wait on the Doctor.

The Doctor came in, asked how I hurt my knee (I fell over a kids' toy) made sure my ankle had a pulse, poked my knee (and said "oh, you really did hit your knee!") told me he was ordering X-rays but I had probably just irritated a nerve when I fell and wandered off again. So far, everything was going fairly typically for my (limited) experience with emergency room trips.

Then, the woman came in to do blood work. This confused me because there hadn't been any mention of taking blood work and why the fuck would they need blood for a knee injury, anyway? I submitted to having my blood taken like a good girl, she took *six* vials and went away and left us sitting again. Not a problem, ER trips come with waits, and I know they had another patient with a real problem.

Except, then the nurses and Doctor - at the nurses' station not more than 10 feet away - started talking about us. For the next hour and a half I listened to them. It started with the drug screen (Check for everything from aspirin on up. She's strung out on something) to how often I used, to how he had to order the X-rays but clearly there wasn't anything wrong with my knee - I was a drug seeker.

But! Not once during those literal 90 minutes did anyone say *one word* to either Michael (my husband) or I. Not the nurses, not the Doctor, not the woman who came in and took the most half-assed X-rays I have ever seen (I moved 6 inches during one of the films and pulled the metal plates back so fast I got a cut on the back of my calf).

The only contact we had with the staff at that time was listening to them talk about us, them sneering at us, and the Doctor passing by (Literally without stopping on his way to the coffee maker at the nurses station) say he'd ordered a pregnancy test (...What pregnancy test?) and he was just waiting on the results of that before he let us go.

I guess the drug screen (pregnancy test) came back negative then because a nurse came in, gave me band-aids for my knee and x-ray inflicted cut, a hand-out on quitting smoking and told me that the Doctor thought I should probably follow up with my own Doctor since my knee seemed to be really unstable and the numbness was concerning. (I'd already stated that I didn't *have* a Doctor). She also asked if there was anything else she could do for me.

I suggested she inform her co-workers that if they were going to gossip about patients they make sure the patients weren't in ear-shot and got the hell out of there. The Doctor, by then, had disappeared.

I seriously sat for ninety minutes, being humiliated and fighting back tears listening to these so called professionals talk about my supposed drug habit, personal life, morality and hypochondria because I was in a stressful situation and my hands were shaking - so they could tell me to follow up with my own, nonexistent, Doctor.

What the hell? No, seriously, what the hell?

I'll add here: I understand doing a drug screen on a patient that is acting oddly. I'll cop to acting oddly because I was nervous as hell, though in light of my stressing that my concern was my leg being *numb* not pain, I find it a bit of a stretch. Especially since I had never been to that ER in my life, but whatever.

I don't really understand doing absolutely nothing about my damned knee to begin with beyond telling me to see a doctor I don't have, but I'd have swallowed it. I would have if it weren't for the hour and a half of sitting there listening to them to talk about me like a piece of *shit*, like I wasn't sitting *right fucking there* and hearing every word of it, anyway.
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