Patient Care #101 for Mass General Brigham Instead of Expansion
by Aliana Brodmann E. von Richthofen
It’s a good thing that Mass General Brigham’s expansion plans were called off. For starters, the attendants can now devote some time to much needed lessons in basic Patient Care and Medical Ethics #101.
I know, as I was left with chronic pain to a shoulder due to severance of my main muscle with the improper insertion of a pacemaker in 2020 that caused inflammation to my entire left side.
To top it off, the device turned out to have been recalled due to hacking vulnerability and was manufactured by a company that pays cardiologists the highest amount per pacemaker used. A casualty of an unethical physician as well as Mass General Brigham’s practice of concurrent surgeries that cost the hospitals three recent lawsuit losses, I had to seek treatment at a specialized heart clinic in another state. The surgeons there removed the pacemaker because my inside proved too damaged to reinsert another one. Plus, I was informed, my particular heart condition had actually not required a pacemaker at all.
There had been red flags from the moment I set foot into Brigham & Women’s Hospital that fateful morning. The cardiologist who was to conduct the procedure came in late, explaining he was in too great a hurry to talk to me. My consent form, I was told by his fellow, would be signed for me by him due to COVID, and the light sedation I was to receive by a nurse for the procedure completely knocked me out.
More red flags when I returned home and discovered that there was a large gash on my breast covered with the sticky part of a plaster causing a nasty infection. What had caused this gash or the hasty (?) misapplication of the plaster, nobody would explain.
The incision from the pacemaker insertion didn’t heal and pain from my shoulder increased into the left hand, which eventually became dysfunctional. Attempts to communicate with the cardiologist and the department chief only resulted in stonewalling and denials with no apparent concern about my condition.
And if that hadn’t been enough medically inflicted horror, I suffered a second blow at another Mass General Brigham’s affiliate shortly thereafter by a renown cataract surgeon whom I had informed of the pacemaker mishap and begged to take extra care. But again that telltale sign of mischief underway: a comatose knock out instead of light sedation and written instructions handed to me by the discharge nurse. My supposedly attending physician was markedly absent.
Within the next weeks I came to understand incrementally that my vision hadn’t improved but in fact worsened. Black patches obscured my sight on top of a general blur. Upon repeated doctor’s visits, he gradually admitted that my cataract lens had shattered during surgery and its shards fallen across the retina, constituting the black floaters. Later, that the sack that held the lens had been accidentally pierced during the procedure, and eventually, that the resulting hole had been sutured. Referrals to retina specialists for the removal of the shards resulted in vague recommendations by them for new glasses. Why no further intervention? I wondered. And why interim glasses when the eye was still in recovery?
It took a trip abroad and emergency attendance by high-ranking ophthalmologists for me to find out that not only had my original lens been busted, the sack ripped and sewn up, but also that a wrong new lens was implanted with a diopter that increased what had been mild nearsightedness to near blindness. And worse: Due to the rip and repair of the sack, no further surgical intervention was possible. Hence, the urging here for new custom glasses when before I could comfortably read without any.
Apparently nobody at Mass General Brigham was going to inform me about this extra complication and I would have never found out without seeking help outside this system, which seems to rely on mishandled patients being either too dumb to notice or unable to properly address problematic medical outcomes.
While contemplating the inescapable conclusion that we are merely useful bodies to many physicians at these esteemed Harvard affiliates, I received a retirement notice in the mail by my OBGYN doctor of 30+ years and department chief. Attached was a list of physicians to pick as his replacement. No personal note. No individual recommendation. Nor a phone conference proposal to discuss follow up. And just like that my conclusion was seconded. In these parts, one is rarely considered a patient, a person, a man/woman or even an appreciated donor to the fund for a chair in a doctor’s name, but mostly an eligible body to be milked for all the enterprises these hospitals pursue.
One can only surmise that the insurers who foot the bill for every lawsuit lost have had ample reason to oppose Mass General Brigham’s mega expansion. Instead, the conglomerate can now focus on reviewing manuals on basic training in Patient Care and Medical Ethics #101, which will be a good thing indeed for everybody. © Copyright Aliana Brodmann E. von Richthofen