When you decide to go into a hospital on account of a minor problem (a headache, medicine pick-up etc.), please make sure you’ve given due consideration beforehand, and be very prepared for a series of intense questions from officials regarding your very sanity. Apparently, there are wrong answers, and one incorrect response can lead to a long stay and unnecessary treatment. A simple and small problem like a headache can sometimes lead to terrifying measures.
In an article written by physician Leana Wen, a twenty-year-old college student named Danielle made a visit to the emergency room (ER) due to a headache. She woke up one morning after a night of drinking with her head pounding. One doesn’t have to be a physician to figure out that she has a hangover, especially since this student hadn’t consumed alcohol for a couple years.
She complained throughout the day that she was too nauseous to eat and drink. The headache persisted even throughout the afternoon. She got nervous and called her mother. Danielle did not have a home doctor because she has minimal medical problems, so her mother advised her to go to the ER. Unknowingly, Danielle would regret this decision.
When she entered the ER, the doctors gave her some IV fluids, knowing very well that the issue she was having was a hangover headache. But then, something else happened: the National Health Service procedures. The doctors began to follow the step by step protocol of treating patients who come in with headaches. They needed to rule out possible bleeding in her brain, and so performed a CAT scan of her head. When this was done, and proven negative, they took her to a room to await lumbar puncture–a spinal tap. The doctors began taking out needles to impale her back. Danielle reacted; after excusing herself to a bathroom break, she broke out of the hospital, dressed only in her hospital gown, by climbing out the window.
Overdiagnosis and NHS procedures are becoming way out of hand, trapping fit patients and providing them with unnecessary treatments. Just recently, a friend of mine visited the hospital in order to receive some medication recommended to him by his counselor. What he got when he arrived was more than he bargained for: doctors and nurses took him to a room, dressed him in a hospital gown, and began asking him a series of questions pertaining to whether he was suicidal. They were going to keep him in this room for three days. My friend was anxious about this situation; he’s a fully functioning student and an aspiring lawyer. He goes to a counselor to combat the stress of his workload in college. However, the questions these doctors and nurses were giving him made him seem like he was suicidal and a danger to himself: They made him lists names of places where he would go if he wanted to kill himself. He had to call his lawyer. Luckily, in the end my friend was able to make his way out from that situation. After staying there for hours, his parents were able to return him to his dorm (he took an ambulance there).
An article in “The Guardian”, written by Denis Campbell in 2015, states that the number of fit patients who are trapped in hospitals despite being fit to leave has reached an all-time high and has been continually growing. Such patients, who usually cannot be safely discharged because local social care is inadequate, accounted for 160,094 bed days in October of 2015 – the highest number since records began more than five years ago. And that number has gradually increased since, growing still in 2018.
Hospitals today are performing too much overdiagnosis, especially of patients with issues such as depression. They blindly follow a path of rules and standards without taking a personal consideration of the patient’s condition. I’m very afraid to set foot into a hospital, as I might end up like the character McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Joseph Frare is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.