December 13, 2008

Fighting For Your Life: One White Lie At A Time

The Dilemma
I have not blogged in the last few days because I was with a family member in the ER and then the hospital. Here’s a tid bit of stellar advocacy I pulled out of my ass during a moment of high exhaustion and rage.

At 3pm we had been waiting for hour seven in the ER for transfer to a room. The room was ready for us; we just needed the primary care’s administrative blessing in order to get it. His staff had already paged him six times with no success. This was inexcusable. Knowing their phones would be shut down in an hour, I called the doc’s office again, and spoke in my uber-polite:

The Crafty Solution
“Lori, I know this is not your fault, but here’s the deal. This is unacceptable and negligent care. You have exactly 15 for the doctor to call the ER and if he doesn’t, fucking heads are going to roll. My husband is a lawyer and I am friends with the CEO of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Call me back in five minutes after you have explained this to your supervisor. You then you have ten minutes to get the doctor to call, complete the paperwork, and make an admittance happen. Again, I know this is not your fault and I appreciate you helping us avoid the extremely ugly scene that will ensue if my request is not met.” Within five minutes the doctor called the ER, completed the paperwork, and we had a room. I was kicking myself for not making that call four hours earlier.

The Lie
My husband is a lawyer. But he is a non-profit environmental lawyer. And before I even met him, I used to tell staff at medical records departments that I was a lawyer. I’m not, but it always helped me get what I wanted. And the CEO: I shook his hand once at a meet and greet when I was a hospice volunteer. I asked him why his hospital didn’t take more charity cases. He smiled and walked away without answering. I’m sure the man doesn’t remember me and if he does, he doesn’t like me.

The Lesson
Tell white lies sparingly, or else they become less believable. Use them in situations where the unethical behavior of the hospital or doctor far out weights the unethical stance of you being a liar. Maintain composure and a sense of dignity while telling them. When someone’s health is at stake, a small white lie and a little good acting can make a huge difference.

Have you ever lied in the hospital or a doctor’s office to get what you want?

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  1. Liz Says:
    December 14th, 2008 at 12:24 AM

    yr badass! hope yr family member is better.

  2. Susan C Says:
    December 14th, 2008 at 3:59 PM

    I like the way you talked to the “messenger” – expressing your dissatisfaction with the situation, not with her.

    I applaud you for telling the white lies and making things happen, but what a pity that it was necessary.

  3. Dana Says:
    December 15th, 2008 at 9:16 PM

    yay pinnochio! :) :) i am so frickin proud of you. everyone needs a ‘kairol’ to kick asses and take names!

  4. Anonymous Says:
    December 16th, 2008 at 1:54 PM

    Just for sake of stirring the pot — how big of a lie before a white lie is full-on-malarkey? Do you lie about symptoms to move to the front of the ER admission line?

    I really don’t think you did anything wrong, I’m just provoking discussion . . .

  5. Everything Changes Says:
    December 16th, 2008 at 2:43 PM

    I love this question from comment #4. What other lies have you all told? Here are mine:

    Lying on the phone to a receptionist by saying the doc wanted me in for the first available appointment.

    Sometimes I check the STAT box on my blood draw slip before giving it to the phlebotomist if I think that time is essential to better coordinating my care.

    I would NOT lie about symptoms in the ER or elsewhere because it could lead to misdiagnosis or improper treatment.

  6. Shane at Environmental Health-Wellness-Beauty Says:
    December 16th, 2008 at 10:57 PM

    I love you! You give girls a good name…You go girlie!

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