Stacking The Deck

“Yeah, so Doc, it was Sunday night and my throat just hurt soooo bad that I had to go to that acute care place down the way.”

I nodded, waiting for what I knew would come next.

“They did a strep and a flu test but those were negative,” he continued. “Since I had a bit of a cough they did a chest X-ray. No pneumonia. So then they did some bloodwork and told me I had a sinus infection…”

“Wait. How long had you been ill?”

“Oh. It had just started that morning.”

“I see.” But I didn’t. No way in hell was it a sinus infection at that stage. “Did you have a fever or shortness of breath or wheezing?”

“Well, noooo…”

“Did they tell you why they thought a chest X-ray and blood work was necessary?”


“So what did they do for you?”

“Let’s see. They gave me steroid shot and an antibiotic shot and a breathing treatment. Then they sent me home with a prescription for an antibiotic and a cough medication and an inhaler. They told me to follow up with you, so here I am.”

“How are you feeling?”

“Just fine, Doc! All those meds really worked. In a few days I was feeling so much better. Now I need for you to sign my return to work release.”

“Truthfully, sounds like you had a viral upper respiratory infection, something that typically runs its course in 7-10 days, and they took you to the cleaners.”


“Their business model is based on getting you to spend as much as possible. It rewards physicians financially for unnecessary tests and treatments. You were going to get better from this on your own without all of that.”

“Well, you know, I was sort of wondering about that. Something didn’t seem quite right, but I did need those antibiotics so it wouldn’t get worse.”

“It doesn’t work that way. Viruses don’t get better with antibiotics.” I could see he did not believe me. Not one bit. Whatever. “So, how much did that cost you?”

He winced.

“Maybe $800.” He handed me the work release to sign.

“Wait. You’ve been away from work for two whole weeks? I thought you said you felt better in a few days!”

“I did.” He shrugged. “I’m feeling fine now so I just need you to say it is OK to go back to work tomorrow.”

“Why didn’t you go back to work a week and a half ago?”

“I didn’t want to.”

“Sir, I cannot say that it is OK for you to go back after two weeks for a mild head cold.”

“It wasn’t mild.”

“I can’t do it.”

“You don’t have to. Just sign that I am well enough to go back to work tomorrow. That’s all they need.”

Sigh. An $800 two week vacation? I need one of those…


61 thoughts on “Stacking The Deck

  1. In a system with so much creed and brokenness I thank God there is someone like you who has morals and a conscience. No matter what you may come up against, please don’t let go of your High Path you stand upon today. What I saw docs put my father through, makes me grind my teeth with anger. Greed. Up the hospital bill as much as possible. You give me Hope that one day I too will be able to trust medicine again. Bless you! Love, Amy

    Liked by 4 people

      • So am I. How medicine on the whole treats the elderly is horrible and shocking. This is one of the reasons why I work so hard with animals to show Vet Medicine mercy needs to be incorporated into medicine, and that there truly is more to medicine then what is being taught. I pray all those doctors who ordered unnecessary tests on my Dad, making his suffering even worse, soon SEE what they have done and change their ways. Thank you for listening, Doc. You really give me HOPE. Love, Amy, RN

        Liked by 2 people

  2. What a silly man! Apart from anything else, why on earth would you want to fill your body with unnecessary medication (especially antibiotics) AND pay for the privilege! Shame on the ‘physicians’ that gave it all to him, as well as the tests!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Boy this wasn’t what I expected when I misread the title. I was sure I read “Stalking the Deck” and couldn’t imagine what that was about! Love your response to his request thought; I wish more in the medical profession had your ethics and responsibility. Personally, it’s like pulling teeth to get my husband to a doctor, even now that we see a naturopath as our primary care physician. Keep on doing what you do Doc!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Ick, ick, ick! That is abhorable! I can’t even believe that happens! I feel like anytime I go to a walk-in clinic here, I have to pull teeth to get anything other than a “that’s a virus and it will get better on it’s own” answer.
    (My son has an ear infection and I need some amoxil for him. Oh, how do you know? Well, I have an otoscope at home and I looked before coming here (and wasting my whole morning). Oh, well, it does look red and inflamed, and maybe a little bulgy (yes, bulgy ) but maybe wait and see if he’s feeling better tomorrow, and if not, come back and I’ll give you the script… It could just be viral, you know…. )

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Working in pediatrics, I haven’t experienced doctors over-ordering tests and meds (it’s difficult to fathom there are those docs who do that!), but I’ve had to spend oodles of time explaining viruses vs. bacteria and why antibiotics aren’t used for the former. It’s getting better but medical overuse of antibiotics is still a big problem. It can be difficult for physicians to remain strong when patients demand an antibiotic. Likewise, physicians who give an antibiotic just to end the office visit sooner are complicit in the problem, too. With so many drug-resistant organisms now, we all need to be very careful in our prescription practices. But I know I’m preaching to the choir with this one as I’m sure you feel the same way. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I’ve found with walk in clinics in Canada, they do as little as little as possible. We are more an annoyance to them than anything.
    I’m grateful to have a family doc in a city where there are hardly any.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. No wonder people need travel insurance while in the US. If you “need” to pay $800 for a mild head cold …. I did read the other day of this couple from the UK who went to the US for a holiday, wife was pregnant and gave birth prematurely and their bill was $200,000. And she can’t travel back to the UK straight away either. It is being covered by insurance and the hospital but still. How can these amounts be charged with a straight face? These sums are ridiculous. I feel sorry for those that genuinely require treatment or medical help on a regular basis.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That is why worker comp rates are through the roof for companies and agencies. Insurance companies will pay because is cheaper than trying to prove misuse. Which only feeds the fire. I have heard that Urgent Care is the biggest rip off in the medical world for patients. But they are all over here.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think it depends on the urgent care clinic. After a car accident, I refused an ambulance (felt fine), but the paramedics urged me to see a doctor “just in case.” My own doctor’s office was closed, so I went to an urgent care clinic I had used in the past. This particular day, the doctor on duty was one who may or may not have passed his boards. All he did is stand in the doorway of the exam room, told me to turn my head to the right and left, and then said I was fine and go home. He never laid a finger on me, never looked in my eyes, etc. Fortunately for him, and for me, I really was OK. But you can believe, that clinic charged my insurance plenty for that visit!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Had a very similar experience with a patient that broke my heart. She had similar complaints and was given an antibiotic, cough, and nasal inhaler prescription and had no clue what her diagnosis was they just handed her some paperwork. She didn’t have insurance either and couldn’t afford the augmentin, when we asked for them to change to a cheaper abiotic- they said she can go without it… Really?!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: My Article Read (1-12-2015) | My Daily Musing

  12. I watched a segment on 60 Minutes that said cost containment was totally ignored in Obamacare. Otherwise, it would not have passed due lobbying in Washington by the drug, hospital, and insurance industries. The story mentioned excessive executive pay and exorbitant markups by hospitals as part of an unsustainable system. Unnecessary treatments figure in there as well. I am in favor of providing a way for more people to access healthcare, but I hope there is a second phase that controls profiteering.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Good grief! 😦 Speaking as someone who has had acute sinus infections and/or upper respiratory infections 3 or 4 times a year for the past few decades, it floors me when someone has a cold and thinks it’s the same thing. I can only imagine the ignorance you encounter on a daily basis.

    Liked by 1 person

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