A flood of fresh tears flowed as I thumbed through the twenty-eight page document. The Medicare “Summary Notice” coldly spelled out the amounts paid to the mile-long list of medical providers. I couldn’t help but re-live the experience of dad’s final days as I moved chronologically through the papers. The final ER visit. Multiple blood draws. An electrocardiogram. Numerous ex-rays and a CT scan. The chest tap and chest tube. The ambulance ride back to the nursing home. The physician’s final visits.
Perhaps what stood out most was the ER doctor’s description: “Emergency department visit, problem with significant threat to life or function.”
Dad was, indeed, gravely ill when he landed in the emergency room in mid-November. His white blood-cell count was sky-high, indicating something was seriously wrong. When I arrived at his bedside, I couldn’t help but look at his frail body and think that we might not be there had it not been for a snap decision made by a physician a month earlier. Continue reading “Faced with a Life or Death Decision”