Monday, June 18, 2012
Hello my little gingersnaps. Today we're switching it up. After a particularly awful time at the ER, following a nasty fall on Saturday night, I considered what my options were for how I was treated. Do I just write a letter to the administrator? Do I blog about it? Or do I mention it on Twitter?
After consulting with my dad, a doctor and Medical Director of five Orlando area hospitals, about my experience, he felt I should use the most public forum possible. So that is why I'm writing about it here, which I will then tweet, and copy to the hospital administrator as well.
It all started yesteday, when we were going to a friend's son's birthday party. I got out of the car and walked along the sidewalk. Then I tripped on a square of sidewalk that was sticking up. You know how you start running to regain your balance, and most of the time it works? Well I almost regained my balance, but instead just managed to gain momentum to the point that when I fell, I fell spectacularly. The first impact was on my right knee, followed by my hands. Of course there was someone else heading to the party who rushed up to me and said, "OMG! Are you okay?!!!" I'm thinking... lady, please leave me alone in my humiliation, thank you!!! I would've gotten up and bowed for my audience, but I was in so much pain, I laid there for a few minutes before attempting to get up. And then I hobbled along in pain until I arrived at the party. *big sigh*
I quickly found a chair where I could stay seated and keep weight off my knee. Between the stinging of my hands and the pain in my knee, I was nearly in tears, so the ever helpful Mr. G gave me a glass of wine, hoping it would help. When I asked the host for some Advil, she insisted I ice my knee and gave me a bag of ice. Of course this was what I was hoping to avoid. Now everyone at the party needed to know why I was icing my knee, so I ended up repeating the story 25 times or so about how I totally ate it on the sidewalk on the way to the party.
Thankfully everyone was lovely, and several concerned friends (judging by the amount of pain I was in) urged me to go immediately after the party and have it checked out at an Urgent Care.
Four hours later we left the party. I pulled up my jeans and actually looked at my knee for the first time. It was scraped and quite swollen, despite all the time I spent icing it. It hurt to walk on it. My hands still stung and I was starting to feel like I had whiplash. Now that might sound ridiculous at first, but I'm currently being treated by a Physical Therapist weekly for neck and back injuries due to past car accidents.
So off to the Urgent Care we went. Or so we thought. Apparently all Urgent Cares close on Saturdays at 5pm. With the pain in my knee and hands and neck/back increasing, Mr. G decided to drive me to a hospital ER to get checked out. At the very least we could get my knee x-rayed and make sure I didn't do serious damage.
So we arrived at Northridge Hospital Medical Center. There weren't any other patients in the waiting room, so I was hoping we wouldn't have to stay so long. Despite my asking, they did not allow Mr. G to go back with me, which was highly disappointing.
Nearly 2 hours after I was checked in, a PA (Physician Assistant) named Jennifer Gros "examined" me. She asked me to describe what happened, all the time looking at me with an "I couldn't care less" look on her face. When I finished speaking she said in a snotty voice, "So, why did you even come in to the ER?" As if I was wasting her time and clearly made the wrong decision to get myself checked out.
I was so shocked by the tone of her voice and her question, that I rambled off about how the Urgent Cares were closed and I wanted to make sure my knee was okay, and that because I was in a lot of pain, I thought I should get it checked out.
Sidenote: I'm not as skinny as I used to be. When my doctor put me on Zoloft, I gained 40 pounds. I have since switched medications and the weight gain has stopped and now I'm working to get off the weight.
Now back to the story...
Jennifer Gros, PA: "Well of course you're in a lot of pain! Anytime someone is extremely out of shape, when they fall, they fall hard. I'll expect you'll be in pain for a couple of weeks."
She then proceeded to lecture me about my weight. Seriously? I know I have a good 40 pounds to loose, but it's not like I'm pushing 300 or anything. I'm not even sure if she realized I didn't come into the ER for a weight loss consult.
She then continued in a condescending tone, "Well I'm not going to bother x-raying your knee. It's not broken because you can walk on it."
My ability to "walk" on my knee is open to interpretation. Hobble, yes. Walk, no. Not that she saw me getting around, because I was sitting on the exam table the entire time she was in my presence.
She poked around at my knee, which was also skinned and poked at my hands, which were skinned. She did not clean either of them. When I mentioned my neck and back, she checked them out and concluded that I indeed had whiplash.
After she finished checking me out, Jennifer Gros, PA said, "There's really nothing I can do for you other than give you a soft neck brace for your whiplash. Just ice your knee and neck and use Motrin or Tylenol for the pain."
Then she proceeded to lecture me further on losing weight before finally telling me I could put my pants back on and wait for my discharge papers.
After that Mr. G came back. Apparently after he bugged them enough, they finally gave him a pass to come back to see me. By then I was nearly in tears by how rudely I had been treated by Jennifer Gros, PA. I was thoroughly humiliated and demoralized. I wonder if she would have treated me the same way if my husband had been allowed to be in the room with me. I'm guessing not.
I got my discharge papers. There was a prescription for six Vicodin. (six tablets) And there was no mention of a soft neck brace for the whiplash. I was excused hastily. When I tried to make a complaint about Jennifer Gros, PA to the woman who handed me the discharge papers, she turned her back on me and ignored me.
So there I was... two and a half hours at Northridge Hospital Medical Center spent, where my motives for being there were questioned, my weight was criticized and I received no care. Thanks for nothing, Jennifer Gros, PA. If you really dislike people so much, perhaps you shouldn't have gone into health care.
I will never trust Northridge Hospital Medical Center for my care or the care of my loved ones in the future, and I will share my story with whoever will listen. I don't want anyone else to have to go through the disrespect and humiliation I was subjected to at Northridge Hospital Medical Center.
**UPDATE: Just got back from my doctor who X-rayed it and found from the X-ray that it was extremely swollen (much more swollen than it initially looked). So actually an X-ray was warranted. How about that? He prescribed an anti-inflammatory and wants to see me back in a week. I can walk on it, but it isn't much better than when I injured it 3 days ago.
My doc was shocked & outraged at my treatment at the ER and urged me to complain. (which I will) Just glad to finally get something that will help my knee!