American Indian health care a national embarrassment

  1. Recently in North Dakota, a woman from the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation had severe chest pains and extremely high blood pressure. At a local IHS clinic, she was diagnosed as having a heart attack.

    The staff of the clinic insisted she go by ambulance to the nearest major hospital, 80 miles away. She resisted because she knew she would be billed for the trip and could not afford it, but the clinic insisted.

    When she arrived at the hospital and was being transferred from the ambulance to a gurney, an envelope was found taped to her leg. In the envelope was a letter stating that the IHS lacked funds to pay for the health care she needed because a ''life or limb'' medical condition was not involved. Really? A suspected heart attack is not ''life or limb''? Fortunately, the individual survived. But she later received a bill for
    approximately $10,000.

    Read the entire article here: http://www.rlnn.com/ArtDec07/AIHealt...rrassment.html
    Last edit by Thunderwolf on Dec 21, '07
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   UM Review RN
    Atrocious!! This should not be happening in the USA.
  4. by   ilmbg
    She should not be billed for the trip. IHS states that the Native American patient be treated first at a IHS facility if possible. If need be that a patient has to be transferred to a larger facility to handle the emergency, that is covered. The government has better healthcare than many other areas in the US. They have the latest, up to date techniques, drugs, and docs that are skilled. I have worked on two different Res- as a nurse-gs10- both extremely good.
  5. by   vetnrse
    Quote from ilmbg
    She should not be billed for the trip. IHS states that the Native American patient be treated first at a IHS facility if possible. If need be that a patient has to be transferred to a larger facility to handle the emergency, that is covered. The government has better healthcare than many other areas in the US. They have the latest, up to date techniques, drugs, and docs that are skilled. I have worked on two different Res- as a nurse-gs10- both extremely good.

    Wow, you lucked out. The IHS facilities I've been in were dangerous, to one's health.They were considered 'bandaide stations' to keep a pt. stable until transfer, as they just didnt have adequete staff,supplies or technology. Supplies were low and/or types not even used in American hospitals, as they'd be considered obsolete. You could usually find one good doc, but most were clueless. Most of the nurses as always, tried their best against the overwhelming odds.
    vetnrse
    Last edit by vetnrse on Jan 9, '08 : Reason: adenum
  6. by   ilmbg
    Wow- where were you? I was at Navajo, Crow and Northern Cheyenne. The care is great. At Shonto, it was an emergency room and clinic. If there was cardica, or something we did not have the facilities for, the pt was transferred. The Crow hospital is fabulous- new, with all latest equipment. I wonder why where you were did'nt have the latest. There are a few doc's that practice on a Rez, because they can't fit in with the fast paced public I think. (or maybe it is a different reason- of course they could just be having their school loan paid off, and knowing they will run to another place as soon as their time is up). Anyway, I am surprised. Where?
  7. by   Thunderwolf
    Gentle reminder....we are brothers and sisters here when discussing the Indian....speaking in a respectful manner.

    Hugs.
  8. by   sharona97
    Quote from Angie O'Plasty, RN
    Atrocious!! This should not be happening in the USA.
    It's the old saying some people's children.....
  9. by   vetnrse
    I was at some IHS hospitals in South Dakota. Basically, people would not go there if they didnt have to but in most cases there were no alternatives. Much of the problem is funding. They just didnt seem to have enough funding for adequete supplies. And the doctors, like I mentioned earlier, there was usually one good one, but the rest seemed like they were running through , or maybe graduated low in their class. At any rate, these hospitals usually were places where at least a pt could get stabalized for transfer after a traumatic injury or critical illness. But its sad because the IHS just cant seem to retain or even get good doctors or enough doctors. Its the forgotton place. And the nursing shortage is felt everywhere. The cheaper antibiotics are used there, amp or erythro usually. They didnt help much anyway. Not to often would there be the latest more expensive ones given. This would make me sad, knowing that in the rest of the country, people had the availability of the latest meds and technology. Maybe if enough people know, it will change .
    Its sad seeing as usual, Indians get the stuff that no one else wants right down to the beds. Glad to hear it sounds like they are getting better care in Montana where youve been.
  10. by   Rohan8
    Sounds to me that if she wrote the note she knew she had a pretty serious health issue. I think there was more going on there than just a woman seaking health care.
  11. by   kbdavis
    I have not worked in IHS but hope to go to either chinle ( my first pick) or Crow soon. I have heard great things about crow. I have experience working in a military facility and we had too many supplies. Many of the doctors were old schooled but it was a teaching hospital and I saw alot. We actually were able to save a woman from a ruptured aneurysm with minimal cognitive deficits so that says alot. I appreciate any advice you can give me.
  12. by   xtxrn
    Quote from kbdavis
    I have not worked in IHS but hope to go to either chinle ( my first pick) or Crow soon. I have heard great things about crow. I have experience working in a military facility and we had too many supplies. Many of the doctors were old schooled but it was a teaching hospital and I saw alot. We actually were able to save a woman from a ruptured aneurysm with minimal cognitive deficits so that says alot. I appreciate any advice you can give me.
    Thread started in 2007....
  13. by   carolmaccas66
    I cannot believe that a country such as the US who prides itself on being 'modern' and a 'leader in the world' has such backward health care. To bill someone for chest pain is the height of insanity and ridiculousness. Anybody, especially the elderly, should not be billed for ANY health care - a $10,000 bill would send them into a heart attack. I hope it go taken to a court of law (I couldn't open the article to read it).
    And correct me if wrong, doesn't it say in the American constitution that all men are equal or words to that effect?
    This would never happen down here. I msyelf don't know if someone has private or no health insurance & I don't care - everyone gets the same, free treatment, especially for health care.
  14. by   xtxrn
    Quote from carolmaccas66
    I cannot believe that a country such as the US who prides itself on being 'modern' and a 'leader in the world' has such backward health care. To bill someone for chest pain is the height of insanity and ridiculousness. Anybody, especially the elderly, should not be billed for ANY health care - a $10,000 bill would send them into a heart attack. I hope it go taken to a court of law (I couldn't open the article to read it).
    And correct me if wrong, doesn't it say in the American constitution that all men are equal or words to that effect?
    This would never happen down here. I msyelf don't know if someone has private or no health insurance & I don't care - everyone gets the same, free treatment, especially for health care.
    Not here.

    Those who don't have the money die. Literally.
    BUT, our govt. officials have unbelievably stupid "pet projects" that get funded without a problem. (Google "shrimp treadmill")
    People pass up treatments d/t financial reasons all the time.

    I've filed bankruptcy for ONLY medical bills-- haven't had credit cards for about 25 years. Own my car. Pay rent.
    My bill for the initial leukemia admission (6 weeks) w/chemo, blood, etc. was over $330,000.00 ... I am on Medicare- but still had a HUGE part to pay- which was partly written off by the hospital. I'm still making payments for chemo last year.

    The idiot billing office has suddenly decided to send me bills in Spanish- after YEARS of being in their system w/English as my language (which I can read to a fair degree- but not enough to be comfortable with financial stuff)....

    I sent them the bill back telling them when they sent me an English bill, I'd pay US dollars.

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