It's so strange to be in the position of giving out admissions instead of receiving them. People see me coming down the hall, and instead of smiling (or, more typically, ignoring me completely), they try and run away. I'm the terrible person handing them more work that's going to keep them there for more hours. But it's not my fault! It's the job! Blame the patients for coming in! Blame the guy whose spleen ruptured!
The comment thread on my post from Nov. 14th got pretty interesting, by the way. And I think one commenter got unfairly criticized perhaps. The system is broken. Without a doubt, the system is broken. I think asking whether doctors should be treating people in emergency situations who can't pay is the wrong question for a civilized society to have to ask. I think, on the surface, a lot of countries seem to have figured this problem out better than we have. I think the insurance system is a mess. I don't have a solution, but I would be surprised if the current system was really the best one, in terms of cost, equity, and overall care. It would be one thing if we were lapping the field as far as life expectancy. And I know there are issues of demographics, and it's not fair to compare the U.S. to countries with a more homogenous population, but still, I have a hard time believing we've really figured it out.