Hey, remember that scene in Sicko, the Michael Moore documentary, where the director visit a Canadian emergency room and discovers short waiting times, thorough care, and happy patients pleased as punch with our tax-based universal health care system?  Well, it bore little resemblance to my own experiences but, given that it’s been years since I actually visited an emergency room, I chalked up the disparity to a sudden and inexplicable improvement in the fundamentals of patient care here in Canada.  Somehow, seemingly overnight, we had managed to get our shit together and become the envy of, if not many  Americans, then Michael Moore at least.  And, really, what more could you ask for?

Oh, I know!  How about short waiting times, thorough care, and a tax-based universal health care most would be happy with?  Because, as it turns out, the reality is a lot less kind than the Michael Moore version, especially if you’re, say, a 75 year old woman, living on Montreal’s West Island, suffering from a possible case of diverticulitis.  If you are, then your mileage may vary.  Considerably.  In fact, it might go something like this:

My mother went to the hospital two weeks ago complaining of pain on her right side (abdominal area). After a 12 hour wait in the emergency room, she was told she had a kidney infection and sent home. My sister questioned the diagnosis since a) mom hadn’t had any bladder infection or that type of discomfort, and b) kidney infection is usually accompanied by back pain, not pain in the lower abdomen.  But they were dealing with professionals and, really, they should know, right?

Well, following a full round of antibiotics, the pain persisted.  So, last weekend, she went to a clinic where she waited a mere 5 hours to be told she did not have a kidney infection, that the doctor suspected diverticulitis, and that she had to go back to the hospital for tests. The next day, she returned to the hospital where, after 11 hours of waiting, she was eventually sent home.  No ultrasound was done because, alas, apparently they don’t do ultrasounds on week-ends. Before sending her on her way, they informed her that she would have to call back the next day to book an appointment.

So, yesterday, my mother finally had her ultrasound appointment. They scanned her bladder and found… nothing.  All well and good except for the fact that her bladder wasn’t the issue.  Mom reiterated the doctor’s suspicions, diverticulitis, and asked why they hadn’t performed a more thorough scan. She was told that the doctor had not requested it in his file and that she would have to come back to the hospital to get another referral before they could run anymore tests.

Interestingly enough, during one of her lengthy waits, she was sitting next to an elderly American couple who had been vacationing in Montreal when the wife had taken ill.  They had gone to the hospital in the hopes of receiving some timely treatment (“Hey, let’s go to a Canadian hospital, just like in that Michael Moore movie!  We’ll be in and out in time for dinner!”).  Their wait proved so interminable that the outraged husband booked a flight to the U.S. that night so they could return home for proper treatment, promising to sue the hospital if it attempted to charge them for the visit.

So, there you have it.  I provide this insight, not in order to support either side of the burgeoning healthcare debate south of the border, but to offer up a personal experience with our presumably admirable Canadian system.  All-in-all, 28 hours of waiting with no diagnosis to show for it.

Where’s Michael Moore when you need him?

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dasNdanger
dasNdanger

Joe – no snarky foolishness tonight. I sincerely hope your mom gets the treatment she needs, and gets feeling better soon! Give her hugs from all of us – she’s our blogmom, too!

Deirdre

josephmallozzi
josephmallozzi

But…I like snarky foolishness…:(

DC
DC

You might have to deal with long wait times, but the American health insurance corporations pull shit like this all the time:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/21/insurance-companies-rape-_n_328708.html

and

http://www.kktv.com/home/headlines/64928787.html

and

http://www.denverpost.com/ci_13530098

I’ll take a twelve hour wait over a bill for a few thousand dollars any day. It’ll give me a chance to finish my knitting.

Also, hope your mom gets this sorted out and feels better!

kathy
kathy

It still astounds me that there are people who actually believe Michael Moore’s documentaries to be, well, documentaries when it has been proven time and time again that they are nothing more than facetious rants.
I hope your mother feels better soon, Mr Mallozzi.

Thornyrose
Thornyrose

Ancedotal evidence is not always the best way to guage something, especially when it comes to something as complicated as health care. But I’d much rather spend more money and get treatment in a timely fashion than have the money and die while waiting for treatment. I hope your mother is able to get a definitive diagnosis so that she can better deal with the situation. All I can say is that for all the horror stories of insurance companies, there are plenty of counter exajples where they come through without a fuss. And they are at least somewhat responsive to pressure. If they don’t deliver a good product, people seek out other options. Once you’re committed to government run medial programs, all incentive to maintain cost, or even good customer service, are lost.
here’s to a quick and happy resolution of you mother’s ills, and to you not stressing out too much. After all, you’re not allowed a day off from this blog…

riley

Best wishes to your mum.

ZeroPointBatteries
ZeroPointBatteries

Joe I hope your mother feels better, I think my grandmother has something similar and its driving her crazy.

Thanks for providing a real glimpse into something that is a very pressing issue here in the states as we await whether or not NObama will pass his healthcare overhaul.

-ZPB

Quade1
Quade1

When I was younger, I got into a fight and was punched in the mouth, it completely split my upper lip all the way to the bottom of my nose. I spent 3 hours in the waiting room, bleeding profusely and wasn’t tended to until I complained of being light headed and dizzy. While I was being treated, I was put in a bed between an elderly women with a paper cut, who was told they could staple it or glue it, and a man who sprained his ankle. That’s just one experience I have had among many many hours spent in the waiting room.

My opinion is that public health care creates long wait lines of people that should be at a clinic, or at home sleeping it off.

Joe did you get the package I sent? just want to make sure you pick it up before you go on hiatus.

josephmallozzi
josephmallozzi

Hey Quade,

Yes, I got the package today – and just in time for lunch! Rob, John Lenic, Carl (as requested) and I all took the plunge. Lawren captured it all on video and I’ll see if I can post it tomorrow – along with a proper thank you.

P.S. Much enjoyed the accompanying account. Awww, you shouldn’t have.

Jeff O'Connor

Best of luck, Joe.

Nadine
Nadine

Joe,

My first exposure to emerg care was when I was in grade 4 and had to get stitches – a very long wait in the ER, and the doctor’s brusque and seemingly-uncaring attitude when I was finally treated left me very unimpressed.

That being said, when my brother was in a bad mountain biking accident in ’07, they were absolutely amazing at Children’s and VGH. And so I think it depends both on the hospital and, as always, the severity of the symptoms.

That is *not* to say that the hassle your mom’s been experiencing is at all justifiable, but just saying…I hope your mother is doing better soon – and experiences less frustrations with her care.

Nadine

Bilo&Bella
Bilo&Bella

Hope your Mom feels better soon. As many of my US colleagues have pointed out (because of constant separation threats), Quebec is actually a US state wannabe, so maybe they are trying out ineffective healthcare strategies…..

PoorOldEdgarDerby
PoorOldEdgarDerby

I obviously wouldn’t downplay the crap-wringer your mother went through, and I know that Michael Moore, while raising good points, must be taken with a fairly large grain of salt.

But you gotta understand how it is to be under the thumb of this insdious affair stateside. I won’t get into it, but personal experience has left me with a very big desire for some serious changes in the system here. Needless to say, I am all too familar with the underlying meaning of pre-existing condition.

iamjohn
iamjohn

If it was just the wait times it wouldn’t bother me, it’s when the doctors make stupid mistakes that I don’t like it. Sure insurance companies do their best to make as much money as possible, but that’s better then someone losing something important because a dr made a mistake that would have been caught if he wasn’t so overloaded.

jlgrand
jlgrand

Get well soon to your Mum, Mr. M!

I had to wait in the emergency room 14 hours after my brother accidentally hit me in the head with a 5 iron golf club. My skull had shattered into my brain and I bled lots. At the hospital they put a little butterfly band-aid on it and my Mother was screaming “I can see her brain and you give her a band-aid!!!” That’s the States fer yah…

Ryan
Ryan

Joe,

I’m sorry to hear that! Best wishes for your mom.

Since you seemed disappointed by the lack of snarky foolishness in other posts, I offer you this:

Michael Moore is on the record as saying “Capitalism has done nothing for me.” At the premiere for his latest in a long line of “documentaries” – term used loosely.

Take from that what you will.

Ponytail
Ponytail

Joe I hope your mom gets to feeling better real soon. Tell her to eat lots of fiber. Maybe she will get to swallow one of those tiny little camera pills so they can get a look inside her intestinal track as the pill makes it’s way thru.

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

YAY!! Phillies won the NL! Now onto the World Series!! *does happy dance*

Aaaaand…there goes Philly. razz

@ Joey – You’re cute when you pout. smile

@ Airelle – Sorry. razz I tend to like to torture myself by looking at spider pictures until my skin feels like it’s about ready to crawl right off of me! And if something touches or brushes up against me while I’m looking at spidey pictures I will jump right through the ceiling, and nearly beat to death whatever it was that came in contact with me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve killed my own hair. razz

@ Tammy Dixon – I don’t bitch about albinos. I thunk them. grin

@ maggiemayday – I actually have no problem with snakes – unless they’re poisonous (so the pit viper would be out). I like snakes…said before here that I would have one if I didn’t have to feed it live things. I like the way they feel and look. Plus – NO LEGS!!

As far as the centipedes go, we had one of these in our shower the other day (we set it free):

comment image

They’re actually kinda pretty…

das

Montrealer
Montrealer

Mr M

Sorry to hear about you mom. If it is the Lakeshore hospital on the West Island, then it’s not a surprise. There’s been chronic backlog of cases plus under-staffing there for years. There should be at least two hospitals serving that area.

But the previous Quebec government decided to reduce the number of hospitals and bed spaces about ten years ago along with encouraging early retirement of nurses and curtailing the training of new doctors in the greater Montreal area. Montreal still have not recover from those idiotic decisions. It was all done to save money, supposedly. Unfortunately none of the governments after those decisions was able to reverse the lost of skilled medical workforce pool. We actually see that workforce pool shrink despite more government budget. At a time when the general population ages with more medical needs requiring a bigger medical workforce and infrastructure.

However even the current under-performing Canadian medical model is preferable to the US model. You can at least go to a hospital without be in the poor house afterward.

Belouchi
Belouchi

All My best for your Mom Joe. I know Montreal hospitals have a very lengthy wait, she can try Montreal Jewish General…. It might be better and faster especially if she has someone well known and wealthy, ooh say her son, that can make the right phone calls to take her dossier to the appropriate doctor…. Trust me when I say she can be seen by the doctor with the highest credentials the following day. ” Money makes the world go round buddy”

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

So, tell me…separated at birth? (CNN reporter Dana Bash &…)

comment image

???

das

DP
DP

I’m not even for government-run medical licensing so I’m waaaay out of this one, except to wish your mother the best.

It’s funny how you have to already know your diagnosis so you can fight for the proper referral that has a chance of circling in on the right diagnosis. What do doctors do exactly?

I went around for six months with rib pain and it didn’t occur to me to go to a doctor for it. I mentioned it to a chiropractor and he immediately knew which rib facet to push on and I felt a dislocated rib go back into place. I was amazed that a doctor actually fixed something.

This is a bad time to be visiting medical providers. My son brought something home from his well-child visit and now we’re all sick. I’m fully aware of the consequences of well-child visits (not the first time this has happened) so we wouldn’t have gone, but we needed a referral for something. *eyeroll*

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

Boy…it’s kinda fun wading through hundreds of photobucket pics you forgot you had…

comment image

And on that note, I bid you good night! Sleep well, Joe!

(I’ll try to do snarky tomorrow – right now I’m a bit distracted. Go, Phillies!!! Woo!!)

das

joflyaway
joflyaway

Robert Davi was on Fox News yesterday to promote the idea of a tax deduction for pet owners to help with the cost of pet ownership. He also talked about the role of pets in good mental health and the positive force pets can play in our lives. He was very well spoken and his points were wonderful. Being a pet owner myself, I was happy to hear his remarks. But to be honest, I couldn’t help but remember him and David Hewlett in the rain in SGA first season. a very memorable scene.

I can go on for hours about my and my family’s health care experiences in hospitals, ER and Doctor’s visits. In spite of the bad things that happened, including my husband getting a blood infection from a nurse dropping a needle on the floor and then using it, in the long run we came out good. My dear friend who lives in Great Britain and a former nurse, has even more stories to tell that are just as horrifying. For example, She had to quit her job until she could get an operation that was delayed for a year because it wasn’t life threatening. she just couldn’t walk around more than 5 minutes! The good thing they have is at home doctor’s visits. That sure would be nice!

Skontel
Skontel

First of all, I wish speedy recovery to your mom no matter what the problem actually turns out to be. I’ve had my share of medical troubles this year, and while I didn’t have to wait long (excellent insurance), I can fully sympathize. See, I grew up in almost-Eastern Europe, in the age when the US claimed to be the Land of the Free. I’ve had my share of experiences of waiting forever for incompetent health care back then, and I hope I never have to experience it again.

When you are in pain, a half-hour wait feels like forever. I cannot imagine how your mother must have felt having to wait for so long. It amazes me that so many other people claim they can not only endure terrible pain for long periods of time, but can also perform other tasks while cheerfully waiting in pain. I must be the world’s greatest wuss.