Thanksgiving — twice!

Last Wednesday evening, I was going to sit down and write a quick post about my family's great Thanksgiving break at Disneyland, where we recharged and got to see World of Color for the first time (as well as rock the all-time high score on Robotron at the ElecTRONica arcade). World of Color is a truly stunning feat of technology ---  1,200 individually-addressable colored water fountains, fire jets, a football-field-sized water projection screen, lasers, fog, holy crap --- it's unbelievable.

Such is the state of family entertainment in America. And yet --- we struggle and largely fail trying to get up-to-date medication lists in front of emergency room providers. Really? REALLY?

Anyways, this was all percolating through my mind as I rode my scooter home from work. It was cold but dry out, so I wasn't paying as close attention to the road surface as I should have. The corner of 24th and 140th had a sprinkling of sand leftover from recent snow operations, and as I came around it .....


The next six hours were spent lounging in luxury at the UW Medical Center emergency department, where I got to experience all the latest in diagnostic equipment, including a CT scan of my head, multiple X-Rays of my lower half, some well-appreciated Percocet and a pretty neat bedside vitals unit. Happily, I was most fine --- a couple dizzy spells, some broken teeth (temporarily repaired by my awesome dentist), a screwed-up-but-unbroken knee, and a few miscellaneous bruises and cuts is all I really have to show for the excitement.

Unfortunately I was a bit too out of it to really record the experience. And the care was really very good. But even at a place as advanced as UW --- some little nuggets stood out:

  • The receptionist first entered all my information into the computer, and then did exactly the same things all over again on paper. Total repetition.
  • The triage nurse entered my chief complaints into Cerner as text --- and then had to do exactly the same thing again using a coded picklist --- that didn't even default using the text she had typed, and where she had to pick codes that didn't really match because the search was such a pain to use.
  • As far as I could tell, nobody looked at the computer from this point until they prepped me for discharge, and all observations were transcribed to paper.
  • My discharge instructions involved a sheet of paper with the names of the providers that treated me, the diagnosis "Fractured Teeth, Knee Brusie (sic) and Abrasion; Mild Closed Head Injury", and a couple of lame generic printouts about dental trauma and abrasions.
  • I was told I couldn't get digital copies of my CT or my X-Rays unless I went to the file office and made a request and paid something like $15.
  • I have as yet no idea what my insurance will be charged for all this.

Wow. And remember --- I got great care, from great people --- I chose to go to UW over closer options because of their reputation and breadth of emergency service!

Anyways --- a few days later the Percocet is out of the system and I'm probably going to be off the crutches by Monday. All in all, a really minor blip that could have been a lot worse. I am doubly-thankful this year, first for a great vacation, and next for a fantastic family and healthcare support system.

I'm also doubly-renewed in my motivation to fix the craziness that is healthcare IT. It's just not that hard, folks --- we have to do better. Next Thanksgiving, my goal is to report that we've made a dent.

Comments (2)

  1. Thiago says:

    Very true. I've come across similar situations with orthopaedics in Jackson WY, although the folks who helped always clearly did their best to help out, so they weren't even really bad experiences.

  2. jleavitt84 says:

    I have always felt that there is technology out there that could help a lot in the medical field. I don't know why we don't focus more attention to that industry. Maybe I'm mistaken and there is a lot of focus on it, but I wish that we could advance it a lot more than it is right now.

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