Saturday, January 1, 2011

#%&*ing Healthcare System

Just before Thanksgiving, I had to go the emergency room.  We were injecting our ewes with FootVax using a dose syringe - a pistol-like apparatus that holds multiple doses.  As I removed the syringe from a ewe, she kicked it out of my hand.  It landed needle-first in the instep of my left foot, the needle penetrating through my rubber boot.  While nothing was injected, there was likely some residue of the vaccine on and in the needle.  The vaccine safety precautions indicated that it could cause vascular spasming that might result in the loss of a digit (if it was injected into a finger or toe).  This didn't sound good, so I decided to go the ER.

The nurses at the ER were great - I was seen by a nurse almost immediately.  Auburn is a small town, so I knew several of the nurses.  We laughed about what happened - they told me I probably wouldn't need to worry about athlete's foot for awhile!  I was less impressed with the doctor who examined me.  He looked at my foot and said he'd call Poison Control.  In about 45 minutes he returned and said that Poison Control had never heard of the vaccine and suggested that I talk to a veterinarian.  Since my wife is a veterinarian, I'd already taken this advice!  He prescribed antibiotics (a product that we've used to treat our guard dogs when they've had infections - they are cheaper for dogs, I might add).  Another nurse came in and cleaned the wound and put gauze and tape on it.  All told, I was probably at the hospital for about 90 minutes.

Here's an itemized list of the treatment I received:

Exam by triage nurse
Exam by ER nurse
Exam by ER doctor
Call to Poison Control by ER doctor
4x4 gauze and tape applied by ER nurse

Yesterday, we received a summary of the charges from our insurance agency (Anthem Blue Cross).  The 90-minute trip to the ER cost $711.51.  I don't know if the new federal healthcare law has had any impact on our personal situation, but it's outrageous that the minimal treatment I received was so expensive!  I would have received better attention having my wife take care of it!


  1. I am sorry to hear that. A farm story I have was in an olive oil sensory course. We took shots of olive oil and I tried one that was rancid. Just another day later then I got the stomach ache of Zeus and went to the ER. With the same insurance I got a $350 bill for codeine and a short rest on a bed, and a nurse.

  2. To add insult to injury (literally), Anthem Blue Cross is raising premiums on their individual policy holders! The Amish have a community fund that supports the community's healthcare (and other insurance) needs - maybe it's time to consider something similar for small-scale farmers!