By Jack Jodell, Mar. 18, 2012

Contrary to what those on the far-right who are obsessed with what they call “free enterprise” may claim, we here in the United States do NOT have “the best health care system in the world” – far from it! We do a much better job of  acceding to the wishes of our ultra-greedy health care insurance companies and protecting their profits than we do to the actual care and safety of our sickest patients. We have all heard of new mothers being booted out of hospitals only a day or two after having given birth , and, in my opinion, that is criminal negligence. But in the past few days, my own family has been also victimized by potential criminal negligence, and I will explain in detail below.

About three weeks ago, my 52 year old brother, who lives in Boston, bcame aware of some discomfort and pain in his abdomen. After a few days of this, he went into see his physician. Tests were run and a CT scan was done, and it was determined he had some gallstones, which would necessitate having his gall bladder removed down the line. He had also noticed some tenderness and swelling in his scrotum, which was diagnosed as a varicocele (a kind of painful varicose vein inside the scrotum). Since neither condition was life-threatening, he went back home to take care of some unfinished work at his job and to lay the groundwork for him to be able to leave that job for a few days to have these medical needs dealt with sometime in the near future. After a few more days, though, his abdominal pain worsened and he noticed his abdomen starting to become distended. It kept growing and growing over the next few days and he began experiencing some constipation and other gastric distress. Becoming alarmed, he checked himself into a nearby hospital. That’s when things really started to happen.

In the hospital, doctors were perplexed.  After an ultrasound and another CT scan, results were inconclusive and seemingly contradictory. They couldn’t seem to ascertain why a perfectly healthy 52 year old man of medium build was suddenly having this abdominal swelling. Tumors and cancer were ruled out, but the mystery persisted. Eventually, they decided he was a victim of paralytic ileus, meaning his entire GI tract had become paralyzed and had shut down altogether! They deduced that a recent bout woth pneumonia may have brought about this paralysis. So, the next step was to hook him up to an IV to restore the nutrients and electrolytes which had been disturbed in his system, and then, to drain his stomach completely of all its contents.  A tube was inserted through his nose deep into his stomach for this purpose, in hopes that this removal would somehow jump-start his digestive system back into action. Sound painful and involved? It was, but the worst was yet to come. 

Friday, they saw that the forced evacuation had reflattened his belly, so yesterday they renoved that godawful drainage tube and gave him a quart-sized enema to clear out his lower portion. He was also given a laxative, but neither produced results. They did one more examination of him and claimed to have “heard some movement in the bowels.” So the decision was made to DISCHARGE him, barely two days after having entered the hospital,  and with his lower GI tract STILL impacted! My brother was incredulous, as was I.   He told them he was only marginally better than when he had first entered, and that without any marked improvement, he would end up right back there for the same problem in a week’s time. But the hospitalist refused to budge and told him, “This is simply a matter of economics. Right now, according to the tests we have done, you are simply constipated, and we cannot justify tying up a hospital bed for constipation. If your symptoms persist, come back in and we’ll repeat the procedure.” WHAT? WHATEVER HAPPENED TO GETTING PATIENTS WELL ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY AND THEN DISCHARGING THEM? Apparently, that is no longer how hospital medicine is practiced—they would prefer to treat and bill, and then treat and bill, rather than actually CURE! After all, they’ve got to conform to INSURANCE guidelines and dictates, not to MEDICAL guidelines! So, they booted him out of the hospital, and, very weak from his ordeal, he was forced to go back home! UNBELIEVABLE, but true!

However, my brother is a rebel just like me. NEITHER of us will accept “no” for an answer when we really believe something to be unjustly wrong, and certainly not from the lips of some mindless stooge or some stodgy bureaucrat! So he immediately went over to Urgent Care, and was seen by a G.I. specialist there. He was given a prescription for a laxative used for colonoscopy preparation, and was guaranteed that it would clean him out quickly, as those laxatives do. He will follow this regimen, and believes it will work. When he has more strength and is able to graduate from a liquid diet to a more normal one, he will get his gall bladder and varicocele taken care of.

I am shocked and angry about the flippancy exhibited by the hospitalist who discharged my brother. To reduce the suffering of a living human being to “simply a matter of economics” is not only brazen callousness, but wholly INEXCUSABLE as well! No doubt this worthless hospitalist really believed what he was doing was correct. If so, he is a very hasty and ignorant fool. He is merely being a pawn in some greedy, uncaring insurance company’s game, and he is too stupid to realize this. As for the insurance company, its desire to maximize its profit and take care of its stockholders and board of directors first while placing its subscribers a distant second shows once again the utter failure of our “private” health care system. If this is the best our “free market” system can deliver, then I would greatly prefer a Soviet-style, state-owned and operated COMMUNIST one! I say, resurrect and implement a true public option! MEDICARE FOR ALL!

Thankfully, my brother hasn’t died from this – YET. But what he has had to endure has been tragic, infuriating, wholly unjustified, and now PERSONAL, and neither he nor I will take this nonsense lying down! 

About jackjodell53

I am an American Dissident trapped in a country where poor and middle class people are constantly being exploited and lied to by a very rigid and conservative plutocratic elite. I believe in government OF, FOR, and BY the people, not one controlled as it now is by corporations and special interests.
This entry was posted in "free market" economics, commentary and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. jerrycritter says:

    When profit rules health care, neither health nor care comes first. I hope your brother survives “the best health care in the world”.

  2. Stimpson says:

    Good luck to your brother, Jack. His ordeal sounds terrible.
    Look, this is yet another illustration of why the health-care ‘reform’ that some call Obamacare wasn’t nearly enough. The reform still left virtually all the power in the hands of profit-seeking insurance companies and profit-seeking hospitals. A robust public option would have gone a long way to fixing the problem; without it, your health-care reform isn’t much at all.

    • Stimpson says:

      Yes, that comment was intended as a pointed “I told you so” to all those who refused to acknowledge that the “reform” wasn’t enough. Instead of mindlessly cheerleading, the hyper-partisan Obama supporters should have been pointing out that it wasn’t enough.

      Sure, stupid Repubs and a few idiot Dems in the House and Senate stood in the way of real reform, but that’s no excuse for not pointing out the very serious shortcomings of what was passed. It was no excuse for clapping and cheering like it was a great victory, and no excuse for scoffing and bullying in response to anyone who dared to point out the obvious problems with what was passed.

      The cheerleaders should feel shame.

      • jackjodell53 says:

        I agree with you fully, and I will not rest until the U.S. has adopted a health care plan as good as your Canadian one. MEDICARE FOR ALL!!!!

  3. Darlene says:

    Anyone who has been hospitalized in the past few years have experienced the same treatment as your brother. When I broke my hip I was discharged by an insurance bureaucrat who made the decision based on a chart as to when a patient with a broken hip could be safely discharged without a set back that would cause them to sue the insurance company. Never mind that the patient may not have had anyone at home to care for him/her and would be in great pain.
    Medical decisions are no longer made by the patient or the doctor. They are made by insurance graphs that tell them what is best for their bottom line.

    As you know, I fought long and hard for the single payer system to no avail. Obama Care leaves a lot to be desired, but it is a foot in the door that, if not repealed by the ignorant and greedy Republicans, will eventually show the public that it’s better than what we now have and will lead to further improvements and eventual single-payer medicine. Rome wasn’t built in a day and our health care system only be improved one small step at a time given the intransigence and power of the opposition.

    • jackjodell53 says:

      You are so very right. It’s too bad that on something as important as this, we are forced by the greedy and wealthy to take little baby steps toward real progress, isn’t it? Single-payer MEDICARE FOR ALL!

  4. Jackie says:

    Jack so sorry to hear about your brother.Years ago I had to have emergency surgery to take my infected gall bladder out and it was a Sunday when the surgeons don’t like to have their routines screwed up. The doctor at Methodist Hospital was very kind to me but furious with the doctors at two other hospitals that I had gone to in in absolute agony and I have a high pain tolerance. I ended up in hospital for a week after surgery as I was very sick because of negligence.

    As you know I am a Canadian and sure there are some troubles there as anywhere in the world, but I can say that without a doubt my family who are all in Canada still ,have had no problems and it’s not true that there is a huge waiting list for surgeries etc..I feel that the Republicans are spreading Propaganda and many of the poor class and the uneducated are buying into it, the bullshit…..I could go on and on…

    • jackjodell53 says:

      Thanks for stopping by and pointing out again how this myth of how supposedly terrible the Canadian system is, is just a load of Republican and greedy insurance company lies! Single-payerr MEDICARE FOR ALL!

  5. JollyRoger says:

    This happened to me. Twice.
    In 1993, I went to the ER because I had puked so much I was cramping up. They administered an anal stomach remedy, and sent me home. I was back that night. And then for the next 45 days; it seems I was born with my small intestine looped over itself, and the loop finally closed completely. Unfortunately I racked up a pretty damned good bill (had been in the hospital once before, for 5 days) before someone decided to do an enema from behind, rather than down the hatch.

    In 2005, a CAT scan showed small intestine lymph nodes that were swollen. A biopsy was ordered. As it happens, the node was still swollen from my previous surgical intrusion in 1993-but the surgery to take the node resulted in another intestinal paralysis. I was discgharged after 3 days, and I was back in 4 days, screaming from the pain and unable to hold anything down.

    Someone explain to me how THIS system could possibly be any WORSE than ANY nationalized health system? At least in a nationalized system, they aren’t looking for the maximum dollar to be extracted.

    • jackjodell53 says:

      Jolly Roger,
      Your experiences seem horrifying, and I’m glad you survived the terrible ordeals and lived to tell us about them. And they occured even before the insurance companies embarked on their latest round of greed! It almost makes one want to seek out a witch doctor…

  6. mudrake says:

    Jack writes, We do a much better job of acceding to the wishes of our ultra-greedy health care insurance companies and protecting their profits than we do to the actual care and safety of our sickest patients. ABSOLUTE TRUTH!

    Let me comment on your brother’s condition because it mirrors that of my 40-year-old son last summer. He, too, suffered with ‘constipation’ and bloating and he ended up in the ER, then he was admitted. After spending 4 days on IV’s and NG tube, they decided to send him home.

    Less than 36 hrs later, he called me at 12:30 AM to ask me to take him back to the hospital because of sever abdominal pain and bloating. Same ‘procedure’ was done as the last time with no results. An operation was ordered. The surgeon ‘cleaned out’ many adhesions around his intestines ‘but not all of them’ because the surgeon decided to do laproscopic surgery because ‘it was less invasive!’. Imagine that!

    You probably can predict the next event. Because it did not ‘solve the problem,’ my son had to undergo a 2nd surgery during which they removed 55 cm of his intestines and some of his large intestine because the adhesions closed off that section of the bowel. Twenty-four days in the hospital, two surgeries, and a full month recovery at home! Oh, by the way, because my son is a private contractor, no pay!

    Jack- I hope your brother does not have to go back into the hospital like my son.

    Care?? Health care insurance companies???

    • jackjodell53 says:

      Unbelievable and inexcusable! And that stupid bitch Sarah Palin had the guts to talk about “death panels”?! As far as I’m concerned, the current health insurance industry has become a malignant, obstructive tumor which needs to be completely removed from health care! Universal MEDICARE FOR ALL!

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