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Doctor's ER Trip Highlights Shortcomings of Hospital's Care

Doctors make the worst patients goes an old saying. The reason the adage resonates is probably because it’s easy to presume doctors always think they know best, even when they are injured.

For caregivers, the expectation may be that the doctor/patient is going to second-guess every diagnosis and treatment recommendation. In a hospital setting, the anticipation might be that the doctor/patient will complain about every little thing they consider to be a shortcoming in care.

But, rather than be dismissive about that last scenario, maybe hospital staff should stop and listen. After all, shouldn’t a doctor have the greatest sense of what a proper standard of care is? If anyone can identify a mistake due to hospital negligence, it’s probably a doctor/patient.

Stories of doctor/patient experiences are not uncommon. Typically, they offer a view of the chasm that exists between what hospitals and doctors say they deliver and what patients actually get. This was on display again in a recent Washington Post story.

An emergency room doctor shared her experience as an ER and then admitted patient at a Washington, D.C., hospital after being struck by a car in 2011.

At first, the doctor says all she knew for sure was that her knee and backside hurt. She describes how in the initial hours of her visit, she received tests that didn’t seem to have anything to do with her pain. She spent the night on a gurney in the hall and late the next day a new team of doctors, who still hadn’t looked at her painful knee and backside, said she could go home.

When she nearly collapsed trying to stand, she was admitted. In the end, she wound up being hospitalized five days and she offered a few stark observations about what she saw as lapses in care.

  • It was three days before anyone performed a physical or took her medical history.
  • It also took that amount of time before she had even a partial diagnosis about her injuries.

The doctor says the experience left her feeling she had been “processed” rather than cared for. And to this day, she has not regained the full function she had before the accident.

Whether any experience similar to this might rise to the level of negligence is hard to say. Details need to be examined and can be done with an attorney’s help.

Source: The Washington Post, “Hit by a car, an emergency doctor experiences firsthand the shortcomings in ER care,” Charlotte Yeh and Health Affairs, June 9, 2014