My two years old daughter became lethargic with no warning signs. She had a fever of 100 and could keep nothing down. I took her to her pediatrician as an emergency visit. The doctor looked at her. He never examined her, not even her temperature. He told me to give her Tylenol and sent me home.
Three hours later, her skin was hot to the touch. I took her temperature. It was 103 degrees. An outpatient center of Greater Southeast Hospital in Fort Washington, MD was my next emergency visit. They took her temperature and immediately ran an IV, took blood samples, and an oxygen tests.
We waited about an hour when the emergency room doctor, who looked like me, informed me and her father that our daughter had respiratory syncytial virus or RSV. The virus had become serious for my daughter. No time to wait for an ambulance. With police escort, we rushed to the hospital. She was placed in an oxygen tent for almost two weeks. The medical professionals that looked like us saved her life.
How did this happen? How does this relate to what is happening with COVID19? In 1995, RSV was a virus not quite epidemic but was affecting enough children to make the news. Her pediatrician was negligent. When he came to the hospital, he did not look me in the eye. He never apologized. He simply said she will be okay and walked out.
As a result of the RSV experience, she developed juvenile asthma. Her allergist put her on too much medication and steroids in my opinion. So, I changed to a doctor who looked like me. They took her off each of the drugs. I changed her diet and she eventually grew out of asthma.
People think they can sue doctors for medical negligence. You can if you can find a lawyer to take your case. And even if you do, the laws in most states are such that doctors are protected from medical “mistakes” unless you can prove intentional negligence.
Let’s face it, we have a medical system that is profit driven. Accountability is only through the legal system and a system like this is structurally unable to handle an epidemic or pandemic. Not only does your health insurance determine the amount of care you will obtain, your race and age determine if your symptoms are even acknowledged.
Ten years after my daughter’s close brush with permanent lung damage, I worked at the Department of Health and Human Services in the Secretary’s Office. At the same time, I was pursuing a graduate degree in Health Communication. While researching health disparities I came upon a study completed in 2004 and released in 2005 by the Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ).
The AHRQ report stated that the above factors were more important than access to insurance, treatment, and preexisting conditions. The United Nations, Centers for Disease Control, and numerous University research centers have conducted similar studies with similar conclusions. The study confirmed my life experience, not only with my daughter’s case but with my own health treatment and that of my parents and sons.