Monday, March 23, 2009

Is my dad too old for Duke Medical to care about him?

In my heart, I believe that Duke Medical (infectious disease, orthopedics) figures that since my dad is old, he is not worth the trouble. He is 75 years old and suffering. If dad died from the infection then Duke Medical figures "so what." My dad's death will be no skin off of Duke's teeth.

Dad is not employed - no lost wages - so how much could dad ever win in a lawsuit.

Attorneys typically do not even bother with cases where old people die.


I continue to be shocked (and amused) about Duke University Medical's indifference about my dad's infection. He is in pain and Duke orthopedics ignores my repeated requests that they help my dad with pain.

Now I have a problem now that I never expected. My dad is starting to believe (realize) that his Duke doctors do not care about him. When an elderly person believes that his doctors do not care then they begin to give up. Not an attitude that is easy for me to combat.

1. Dad's foot is in horrible pain and he (understandably) does not know why his Duke Medical orthopedic surgeon's office does not help him with some pain medication.

2. Dad has been practicing very hard on his knee scooter and there is no progress towards his surgery because (a) he was "dumped" by Duke Medical Infectious Disease and (b) there has been no wound care or infectious disease intervention since the Duke Infectious Disease fellow left Duke in January 2009.

Dad is confused why (if Duke Medical was such a great place) I would choose to fly back to Chicago to consult with a Northwestern Medical orthopedic surgeon.

Dad is losing hope because it has been months since anyone at Duke has helped him with pain or infection. Dad figures he will be crippled for life.

This all started because a Hospitalist at Duke University Hospital ignored an infection in dad's foot. In fact, dad's foot was so badly infected when he was discharged from DUH that he was brought home via ambulance.

I begged that Hospitalist Veshana Ramiah, MD to please consult with dad's treating Duke clinic physicians. She looked straight at me and said - no, I am in charge.

If that DUH hospitalist had contacted the Duke Clinic treating physicians (ie dad's orthopedic surgeon) she would have learned that dad recently had foot surgery and there was metal in his foot.

The infection lodged in dad's foot and he lost a large part of his foot in November 2008.

Dad cannot have further surgery on his foot until and unless the infection is resolved. Infectious Disease has not seen dad since early January 2008 when the Duke Infectious Disease fellow (Anna Person, MD) told me that dad did not need to return to clinic - he was fine.

I have tried since January to care for dad's foot. Pins set by the orthopedic surgeon have been falling out for at least a month. His foot is in pain and the pain is radiating up his leg.

I know what it is like to be ignored by Duke Medical. That is why I am flying to Chicago to see a Northwestern physician. That is why I treat with a Northwestern oncologist instead of my original Duke oncologist.


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