UPDATE: The final total for the three hour visit at the hospital was just over $1,900. This is after the initial bill of $860 which should not have been more “unless other tests were ordered”. It is what it is… insurance covered roughly 80% of the bill, so other than the outrageous cost of medical care in the U.S. and the mediocre quality of care received (hte hand specialist laughed at the splint they had me in), I am OK with the situation.
I’m writing this with eight working fingers. My dangerous activities have finally caught up to me this Labor Day weekend. While I am a bit bummed that this happened, I am also a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.
~10:30 am – i injure my hand at turkey moiuntain on the downhill course. at first i think it’s still possible to ride it off, but since i can feel some moving parts in my hand where there usually aren’t any. I limp my way back the mile or so to the car and slowly make my way to an urgent care facility.
10:50am – The nurse at the Urgent Care Facility has some doubts as to where or not they will be able to treat me if the break is serious, so I weigh my options and decide to head to the St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa.
11:15am – I arrive at the St. Francis Hospital Trauma Center and check in at the front desk. I tell them that I am in a bit of pain, but that my injuries are not life threatening. At this point I’m not even sure that I am in the right place. Frankly I am a bit worried that this broken bone ‘is going to rack up an astronomical bill, and I voice this to the receptionist. He tells me that he “is not the billing department” and that since I am here he “might as well check me in”. Glad to see that no one is interested ‘in ;using the tools available correctly.
11:25am – A nurse named Cathy brings me back to my first waiting area where my vitals are taken and I am asked a ton of questions, some of them new to me. Some interesting ones are: “Do you feel like your life has no purpose?” and “Do you feel safe at home?”, which weren’t really relevant, but it’s good to hear they are required to ask mental health and domestic abuse questions to everyone, even slightly clumsy bikers.
11:33 (9 minutes later): A male ER doctor stops by the room for around two minutes to take a visual look at my hand, and immediately recommend an x-ray. The staff assure me that the next step will take place soon, so I hang tight in the room. Really, I am distracted by a flat screen monitor near my bed with a pretty interesting monitoing system that the hospital uses. Among other things, patients are listed in diffrent blocks of the hopital floorplan along with total wait time, their nurse and doctor’s names, as well as what I expect is an estimated time of completion for my room. This helps me keep track of time throughout my stay here.
11:38am: I am whisked to another room and hooked up to a machine which automatically monitors my blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen level. I check the monitoring system and see that the times on my assigned block have reset, and there’s now a blinking icon of a bone next t0 my name. Cathy comes back in and tells me that the doctor recommended a pretty heavy narcotic to relieve the pain. This surprises me a bit since I said I was at a 7 on the pain scale, so I ask if less drastic measures can be taken. I am also a bit worried about the cost, which is the probably the bigger deciding factor in the decision not to get legally high at the ER.
11:55am: The nurse comes back in and hands me two pills which she says are Loritab. I hang out in the chair usually reserved for visitors and play the waiting game.
12:40am: Two radiology techs find my room and wheel up a portable x-ray machine. Photos of the bones in my hand are taken from every conceivable angle, and some are taken of my wrist.
1:20: After another 40 minutes, a radiologist comes by the room with the results of the x-rays, on his iphone. His words, ‘this was not on my iPhone’. He’s pretty upbeat about the situation but doesn’t tell me anything besides ‘it’s dun’ broke’ and recommends that my hand is put into a splint.
1:35: A nurse comes in to splint me up. After three guesses, she finally gets the injury right. We’re putting a splint on you broken fingers? Your broken wrist? Oh, your hand is broken, I’ll cast the entire thing. I have to convince her that only the bottom two fingers should be splinted, and sure enough, she checks with the doctor to makke sure. My hand is put into a plaster cast which covers a straight line from my pinky to my elbow. The semi-permanent cast is then wrapped in not one, but two cloth ace bandages. I look like the michelin man.
1:55: After some more paperwork they tell me I am free to go. It’s kind of confusing since I feel like I should owe someone something. I am a bit neurotic when it comes to these things, so I make sure to find the billing department.
2:15: After some considerable wandering around and many bad directions (does anyone know how this place is paid for?), the department is found and I get an estimate on the cost. Bum-ba-bum! $860 before any additional fees are added on.
So what does $860 do for you in a hospital?
Two waiting rooms
One minute with the ER doctor
Five minutes with an orthopedic doctor
Nursing care during your stay
Overall, I am not surprised. It was Sunday, I was worried about the alternatives and needed my hand fixed. Knowing what I know now, I absolutely did not receive better health care at the ER over an urgent care center. My hand specialist laughed at the splint I came in with and agreed that I would have been just as well off going to a clinic.
Just another lesson I learn in life.