The ER demonstrates the inverted priorities of American society | Physician | October 11, 2014
We fling open the doors of America’s emergency departments to help those who can’t afford health care. We have legislated this protection: No person can be turned away for financial reasons. This is very compassionate and represents the higher angels of our culture. Alas, it also is emblematic of the stupider demons of government. You see, the ER demonstrates the inverted priorities of American society.
In the ER, expensive tattoos abound. Piercing is ubiquitous. Almost every adult and child has a smartphone, it seems. All too many spend the duration of their ER visit glaring at the screen of said phone; barely looking up at the physician who is attempting to engage them in meaningful conversation about the reason they came for care.
Cigarettes populate purses and drug screens are notoriously positive for at least chronic narcotic pain medications, but often other substances, among them marijuana and amphetamines.
Dental care? It is regularly ignored because, in the words of my patients, “I don’t have dental insurance.” Guess what. Neither do I, and I pay a lot for insurance. Dental care has typically been a cash business. That’s why dentists, crafty guys and gals that they are, spend their time mucking around the human mouth. Floss and toothpaste? Seems a bit excessive compared to a nice new tattoo.
A woman told me, recently, that her daughter (at birth) had a minor congenital abnormality that required daily application of a cream. “And I had to spend $200 of my own money!” She was aghast. As are all of those who will gladly pay anything for Oxycontin (legal or otherwise), but who are offended and downtrodden when their antibiotic isn’t free at the local pharmacy.
We can’t keep this up. We’ve created a monstrosity of entitlement. I care for the poor; I love the poor and have always tried my best to help those in genuine need. Those truly hurting.
Hate me if you want. The truth is unpleasant.
But it is clean-shaven.
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