Negotiating The Best Treatment
I was on consultant ward rounds one day and we happened to come across a young 23 year old lady with tragic circumstances. She happened to have a faulty heart that was pumping at less than half the required level.
Being at a similar age to myself, I couldn’t help but think ‘I have so much to be thankful for.’ Here I remind myself first, that gratitude is a characteristic of vital importance. If we cannot acknowledge the many blessings we have been given, we are either blind to the world around us or are overly engrossed in ourselves.
The consultant went on to discuss the necessity of a heart transplant for the young lady with members of her family present. They all understood that this was necessary, however since she was not a domestic patient, the conversation moved on to where the transplant would take place.
Not sure how much you know about transplant surgery, but it is a very specialised form of surgery. In fact, only about a handful of hospitals in Australia actually perform these kinds of surgeries. For the surgery to occur in Australia, there would be a huge cost, but also the follow up involved meant she wouldn’t be able to fly back before 12 months.
Therefore the discussion went along to see where it could be done in her home country. After consulting fellow colleagues from the region, the consultant was confident she could get the required care in her home country in a couple of the big city hospitals. However. the man in the room who seemed to be a relative of sorts as well as the one who would be helping pay for the expensive procedure thought otherwise.
An air of tension built up as the conversation went back and forth about the pros and cons of wanting to get her surgery done in the town hospital. Any neutral observer would have seen the idea was ridiculous, especially considering nobody had performed a heart transplant at that particular hospital.
The consultant. normally a very calm character, could be seen to become frustrated for what seemed a lack of regard for the patient’s welfare. However, upon discussing the matter further and explaining the potential detriment that he may be causing to his young relative, the man decided to speak to the young woman.
After their discussion, much to his credit he was able to come around and accept the fact that this was something not worth being a human guinea pig for. In the end, the best possible treatment was found for this particular patient.
This anecdote highlights the often hidden complications of patient management that can be discounted by many, who do not see the practical implications of their treatment.