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Kaiser Permanente Patient Horror Story

George Alger
Sacramento, CA

Kaiser tells seriously injured patient to finish traction at his own expense. (Told by George T. Alger)
I was badly injured in a motorcycle accident. The paramedic said that due to the seriousness of my injuries, instead of taking me to Kaiser he would be transporting me to the another medical center where they had a Level 1 trauma center. They managed to relocate the femoral head that had broken out of my hip with the half that remained inside. I was placed in traction and the femoral head was allowed to heal back together.

All during the month I spent in the trauma unit and the two weeks on the med center's ortho floor, Kaiser was trying to get me transferred over to their hospital. All during this time, Kaiser had always intimated in their contacts with me that they would keep me to the end of my three month traction and that a doctor had been selected for me and was studying my case.

When I was transferred to Kaiser at the end of six weeks, the first person that I saw was not a doctor, but a discharge planner! This person told me that I had two weeks to arrange where I would go to finish my traction at my own expense. I was stunned, and didn't know what I was going to do. When I first met my Kaiser doctor, I asked him for help and was told not to lay my guilt trips on him. During the two weeks I was there, my doctor's assistant who was a new resident took off a perfectly good cast and replaced it with one so tight that the bone which went to my little toe now goes underneath it. I was told that if my initial treatment had been up to Kaiser, they would have pinned my hip. This would not have been the best treatment for me, but it would have been by far the best treatment for their bottom line. My hospital stay and subsequent care would have been sharply reduced.

At the end of two weeks, and without a place I could afford to go, we put a hospital bed in my mother's family room and she took care of me. This took considerable effort as she was 76, a childhood polio victim, and on a walker at the time. Kaiser said that we would have one home health visit and then would be on our own. While I was at my mother's house, I developed a red spot on my ankle point where some of my pins were located. An appointment with a Kaiser podiatrist was arranged and I was transported by Paratransit in a wheelchair to see the doctor. After an appointment that lasted only ten minutes, the doctor who had never seen me before, stated that the red area looked like it was going away and would be no problem. I was amazed that this could be determined by only one visit. Well, six weeks later we were finally able to get the resulting wound closed.

In my case I was just lucky to have been transported to the medical center initially instead of Kaiser. Had it been the other way around, my quality of life would have been much diminished.