Monday, May 24, 2010

It's Time Someone Says Something

I don't usually ask that anyone promote my blog. I'm not asking for that today, either. BUT, I would ask that you post a link to this particular post to anyone you know. Post it on Facebook, Twitter, your favorite local news link, or whatever. It's time for someone to speak up, and make things right.

As you know, Liam has spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals. Thankfully, his most recent stays have been very brief. Through it all, we've had our fair share of incidents with one hospital in particular. You may recall THIS INCIDENT or some of the many things that went wrong over the summer while he was in the care of this particular hospital. We had a doctor tell us we can't choose our child's color when we expressed concern over him being blue, nurses fail to come despite alarms going off and us begging them to come in only to discover that he truly was in distress, and had his oxygen turned off by a cleaning lady who told us the O2 was really just optional. I let all of those things go, although I did blog them for my own therapeutic benefit.

Well, they've screwed up again. DALLAS CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL, IT'S TIME YOUR NAME BE PUT OUT THERE FOR EVERYONE TO KNOW ABOUT! I am typically a very reasonable person, but things have got to improve there before someone is seriously injured or billed unreasonable prices due to stupid mistakes.

Back in October, Liam had some trouble and spent a little time in the hospital under observation. He had chest X-rays, and a test for pulmonary hypertension. We were there just under 24 hours, and were billed just over $7,000.00. Of that, we had to pay $50.00. Our insurance covered the rest. I blogged that stay HERE. Overall, I was pleased with the whole experience.

Then, in February, he got RSV and had some trouble wanting to drink. His sats and disposition were fine, but Dr. Sanchez wasn't pleased with the amount of fluids he was taking. Since she couldn't see him in her office, she felt like she wanted him admitted for observation just to be sure he was okay.

This stay was so minimal that I didn't even blog it. We arrived and he was admitted to the unit around 8pm on the 18th of February. He got a bag of rehydrating fluids, had some chest x-rays, and some breathing treatments. The respiratory people gave him the meds, but I administered the treatments. Other than that, the stay was identical to the stay in October. He was on the same unit with the same nurses and the same doctor overseeing his care. We left at around 5pm on the 19th.

The price tag for that stay? $27,778.00. Yep. You read that right. I called to figure out where the error was and they said he was inpatient so everything costs more. I said that, no he was there for observation. They argued. I fought. They argued.

I called back again today and begged them to compare the two stays and see that he received essentially the same treatment both times. They relented and said that he was inpatient because it was 25 hours that he was there in February. This is the exact conversation we had:

"What? 8pm one day to 5pm the next day is 25 hours?"

"Yes, ma'am. It is."

"No, it's not. Are you crazy?"

Customer service rep. starts asking another billing specialist to help her count, and they both agree that it's 25 hours.

"Seriously? Can I talk to someone else?"


"Someone who can count would be great!"

"Ma'am, count it. It's 25 hours."

"No, it's not. 8pm today to 5pm tomorrow does not equal 25 hours."

"Yes, it does."

"Fine. Let's count each hour. Let me get a piece of paper."

"That's a great idea, ma'am."

We count. I get to 5pm the next day.

"21 hours! Ding, ding ding! It's 21 hours."

"Can you please hold?"

"Um, yeah. Sure."

She comes back to the phone and concedes that it is indeed less than 25 hours. (Yeah. Duh!) Then she says she's looking over the itemized bill and there are the two $10,000.00 IV injections he received. Um, WHAT?!?! He got IV fluids for hydration in case he was truly dehydrated.

I ask her to please tell me what the drugs were for. She says she's never seen this drug listed before, and has to ask a nurse. She'll call me back in a few minutes. I figure I'll be waiting about 25 hours.

So, one of two things has happened. Either A). He was billed twice for a drug he never got. OR B). My child was negligently given a very expensive drug he was never meant to have. Which do you think it was?

On so many levels, there are things seriously wrong here.

1. If he really was an inpatient, the hospital justifies charging a three times as much for the stay even though he got exactly the same treatment as when he was there for observation. That's like saying two people could show up to the grocery store for a gallon of milk. One could come in a rolls royce and the other on a motorcycle. One would be charged $200.00 for his gallon of milk while the other pays only $4.00. And we wonder why medical bills are so out of control in America? Good hard working Americans are paying high premiums for insurance only to be charged huge fees for care they never received. I even called the insurance to report the problem, and the insurance felt that these were reasonable. I told them that Liam hadn't received some of these things (2 IV's at $10,000/each). They did nothing. Just paid it out, and charged me a high premium for it. NOT OKAY!

2. The people in billing at Dallas Children's Hospital not even able to tell time let alone recognize how many hours a child was in their care. These are the billing specialists! These are the people who take my credit card number and apply charges to it. THEY CAN'T COUNT TO 21!!! This is a serious problem. (I genuinely hope that call was recorded.)

3. A child was either given a drug he shouldn't have had, or he was billed for very expensive drugs he should never have had. Either way, it's a problem that needs to be resolved.

I'm still waiting to hear back from the girl in billing who is looking into the IV charges. She said she'd call back in a few minutes. That was at 2pm and it's now 6:31pm. So, about 25 hours later and I'm still waiting. ;)

I want the record to show that the doctors and nurses involved in this situation did their jobs well. They paid attention to my child's needs. They listened to my concerns. As always, the direct care staff did there jobs precisely right while the executives and white collar workers screwed things up. Again.

I'm hoping you'll share this story with anyone who will listen. Forget health care reform. Simply fixing billing and fact checking processes for medical care could potentially save us all more money than we can count.

I may be just one voice, but my voice matters. When it's combined with other voices, it is heard. For the safety and best interest of our wallets and more importantly our children, feel free to share this post.

In all fairness to the hospital, I will be updating as changes occur. I'm sure this situation is bound to be corrected in quick time.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Baby Steps

Liam is finally taking some baby steps! I mean that literally. He isn't really walking all the way yet, but he is taking a couple of steps here and there. I'll take that. He kind of looks like Frankenstein when he does it, except he doesn't have funny scars and screws coming out of his neck. He also doesn't have a flat head, but other than those few things, I'd say he's got a lot in common with Frankenstein.

His hand is also just about completely healed! I'll have to take and post some more pictures of it so you can see the progress. I'm so relieved that it's healed so nicely and with what appears to be the minimal amount of pain. No pain for Liam takes away a lot of the Mommy guilt for me.

He also seems to be really interested in learning some new signs. This past week my friend, Kelly, watched him for me while we moved. I went to pick him up and he looked like he was doing something from I Dream of Jeannie. You know how she crosses her arms one at a time and then blinks her eyes while bobbing her head forward? That's what he was doing. It was exactly the same. I asked Kelly what it was, and she said "Oh. We taught him to pray". He is still doing it, and I think it's so cute. While it's not a correct sign, it does serve as a reminder that he's really ready to communicate.

Liam is really enjoying this temporary little apartment we're staying in. It has a glass fireplace that he seems to think is the greatest play area ever. The only down side is the trail of soot that he leaves throughout the house when he's done. He also loves the mini blinds mini blinds that are all over the apartment. I have quickly learned that I can't walk around the house half dressed because I have to keep the blinds up high enough that he can't reach them. He is a real pro at bending them all out of shape.

So, there you have it. Liam's most recent baby steps. Pictures of the Frankenstein walk, the healing hand, and the Jeannie prayer coming up soon...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mom, Do NOT Feed Me Baby Food Mush!

We are still working on Liam's feeding. We have made progress in terms of bananas and yogurt. I can put almost anything in yogurt, and he'll eat it. But, we haven't gotten to where he'll eat other things of similar consistancies to yogurt. I decided it was time to at least try. Here's how it went.
Strawberry Mango Yogurt-Check!
Fresh Banana-Check! (actually he ate two bananas)
Baby Food Oatmeal With Pears and Cinnamon-Um, no thanks. Not so much.
Baby Food Turkey Dinner With Potatoes, Peas, and Carrots-Not a Chance in Hell.
As you can see from the photos, though, he was satisfied by the time he was done. He loved that banana best of all. The only downside was that I then had to redress his burn because of all the banana guts in the dressing.
(By the way, we saw the dr. today, and his burn seems to be healing according to what should happen. So far, no complications. We will take that!)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

At Least it Hasn't Slowed Him Down Much

Liam's hand has been a constant focus of our attention as we've worked to be sure it heals okay, and doesn't allow infection to get in. He has been to the doctor everyday since it happened, except for today. The doctor yesterday said we could go one more day before going back in again tomorrow.
Some of his blisters have started to burst, which really stresses me out a little bit. Still, the doctors say we're good to go for now. The great news is that he doesn't act like he's in even the slightest bit of pain. He's still crawling, laughing, bouncing, squeaking, burping, and everything else just like the Liam he's always been. It surely hasn't slowed him down much.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot!

Well, it has finally happened. I've had five kids and have never once had to go to an ER over major injuries. There were two times Aiden fell head first and we had to take him in to be sure he was okay, but both times turned out to be fine. Liam is bound and determined to be the child who turns my hair completely gray.

I was getting ready to take him to speech this morning, and he was crawling around. I never let him out of his crib until I'm ready for the day, but he had taken off his diaper and peed all over the bed. Anyway, I turned on my hair straightener and went to get a shirt from the closet.

Apparently, Drezden went into the bathroom and Liam followed him. Liam pulled the hot iron down off the counter and held it with his hand. HE SCREAMED!!! I got to him as fast as I could, but it felt like an eternity. He didn't know to put the hot iron down, so it was actually directly on his skin for a few seconds.

I ran his hand under hot water, but the blisters just kept coming. He has a burn in the perfect shape of my flat iron. I feel awful. My power, sweet, accident prone baby!

We got him to the ER as fast as we could, and the dr. said we got pretty lucky. Just second degree and no need for surgery right now. Lucky? Well, I guess so. He screamed for two hours straight, and then they gave him some motrin for the pain. That took enough edge off that he fell asleep.

He is all bandaged up and will see his pediatrician in the morning. The blisters have literally tripled in size and are freaking me out a little, but they're still intact. Everyone tells me it's all good as long as the blisters don't rupture. I hope they're right.

Anyway, there you go. One more piece of proof that Liam is trying to make sure I go gray a lot faster than anticipated.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I See a Lot of First Dates in His Future

Liam is working hard on learning to eat. It's been a challenge, but he's making leaps and bounds. I finally decided it was time to take the next step with him, and see how he'd do with self-feeding. Jan (his SLP with ECI) says I need to get over my sensory issues with sticky messes and really let him get into. So, I did.

Here you can see the results of that. As you can see, he needs to be fed naked pretty much every time. He also holds his spoon upside down, or in the opposite hand that he's feeding himself with. Lastly, it seems he gets a big on his face. And arms. And tummy. And in his hair.

Yeah. I see him getting a lot of first dates. I'm not so sure about second dates, though.