Thursday, March 3, 2011

Where Can Patients Go For Help? I'm Getting Ready.

I have been a patient, caregiver and private patient advocate.  The one thing that I know for sure is that no matter what the medical provider calls the office (patient resources, patient advocate, ombudsman), a patient can never truly obtain unbiased assistance from a hospital affiliated office that purports to help frustrated patients.

Whatever the medical facility calls the office (ombudsman, patient advocate), the people are there to calm the patient down to prevent litigation.

Most recently, I was sucked in by The Cleveland Clinic's Ombudsman's Office. For example, earlier this week, Ombudsman Becky Streem insulted me.  

Becky Streem seemed to be intimidating me by stating that back in October 2010 orthopedic surgeon George Muschler, MD was uncomfortable treating me based on my mental instability.  

Why?  Because when I was at Cleveland Clinic for a series of outpatient appointments relating to my diagnosis of osteomyelitis, I became very ill after 6 pm.  I vomited repeatedly, knocked my head on the bathroom wall, passed out, was in severe pain.  I asked people in the main lobby of the hospital for help but was ignored.

The Cleveland Clinic Police forced me to spend the night outside on a bench.  It was very cold.  I sick, disoriented and vomited into my knapsack.  The Cleveland Clinic Police taunted me not to fall asleep and accused me of being homeless.  I explained I was a patient of Dr. George Muschler and I was sick.  The Cleveland Clinic Police mocked me.  I spent most of the early morning hours on the telephone with my mom because I was scared of falling asleep.  My mom actually heard the CC Police laughing at me and warning me to not fall asleep.  It was about 3:00 am.  

This week Cleveland Clinic Ombudsman Becky Streem told me that it was my fault that I did not find my way to the CC Emergency Department.  I reminded Becky Streem that I had never been to Cleveland Clinic.  Streem told me that Dr. George Muschler did not trust me to be able to obtain medical care post life saving surgery because I could not find the CC Emergency Department when I was sick in October 2010.  For that reason, Streem explained, Cleveland Clinic Orthopedics refused to treat me.  I was too mentally ill.  Huh?

Becky Streem further told me that both Duke University (Dr. Michael Bolognesi and Dr. Cameron Wolfe) and Cleveland Clinic Orthopedics (Dr. George Muschler and Dr. Michael Joyce) agreed with her assessment of my mental status.  Huh? I have an serious infectious disease (osteomyelitis) and I am too sick to get medical care?

So what can patients do when medical care providers behave unethically?  Cleveland Clinic's Dr. George Muschler diagnoses a serious disease/dead tibia bone and then refuses to treat me?  That seems unethical and just plain wrong.

It is long past time for patients to have a place to go for a real advocate.  Patients need someone who will fight for them to make sure they get the care they deserve.  I am not talking about a lawsuit.  I am talking about proper care before some dies.

My dad should not have died.  Elderly patients shouldn't die in nursing homes.  Families shouldn't have to fight with doctors.  Families should get to spend time with loved ones.  Families should have real respite care.  

I am working with other like minded people to create a system where families can care for patients and loved ones.  And people like myself who are willing to fight the good fight and be the advocates will do just that.  We will make sure the families can be together and enjoy time together instead of being insulted and intimidated by the Becky Streems of the world.

Stay tuned . . . 

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