On an average evening in our household, usually before some major event, one of our offspring could have either fallen and opened up their head or is bleeding profusely from some wound; in short, we make many trips to the emergency room. But as our children get older, sometimes we aren’t even the ones who take them there. The other night, we received a call that our 17 year old daughter, participating in an intense sports event, had been taken to the hospital. Thank G-d, she is fine and all is well, but this time we actually got to have an overnight from the whole thing. And an interesting event occurred.
I am a health advocate, but this always becomes a bit tricky when it is a member of your own family. However, I was not thrilled about the idea of my daughter having to stay overnight in the hospital and wasn’t sure if it were truly necessary, or if the hospital were just protecting itself, which has been known to happen. I wanted to discuss with the doctors, the option of her not staying, and returning the following morning for the follow up blood test. Some doctors can have this discussion; others cannot. I was told, quite clearly, that I could sign the form and discharge my daughter AMA (against medical advice), I had that choice, but then I should know that I would have to pay for all charges incurred (e.g. the ER visit, the hospitalization costs, which btw, totals several thousand shekels).
Now, just to be clear, this is a lie. The 1996 Patient Rights Law clearly states that every patient must offer informed consent to any medical procedure and has the right to refuse any treatment as well. This is unconditional and in no way connected to healthcare coverage. I explained, a bit aggressively, to the doctor, that he was trying to manipulate my actions with a blatant lie and that this was truly horrifying. He said that he was merely repeating what the hospital administration told him to say, that they had clarified was the truth. This was validated by another doctor in the ward. The sad thing is I believe them. I know that physicians work extremely hard and know medicine, but are often not versed in the details of medical bureaucracy, forms, etc…I was shocked to think, however, of the many people who may have been bullied into undergoing procedures at the end of the day because they were afraid that if not they would have to pay out of pocket for the care they had received prior.
In the end, we decided to stay, not because of the misinformation we were fed, but because it was the best thing for our daughter.
We have an incredible medical establishment here in Israel, and I feel blessed that my family and I can receive such good care if needed, but it is completely acceptable to question the necessity of medical procedures, physician decisions and claims that the services you would like to receive “won’t be covered”.
Everyone is entitled to a second opinion, time to think about a medical decision, and the right to appeal a claim. That’s the law.