Sunday, November 24, 2013

My Continuing Adventure at San Francisco General Hospital

During my initial report on the circus act I experienced while checked into a San Francisco hospital, I did not name the hospital, since I didn't know if the terrible experience I encountered was the result of just a few of the medical personnel I encountered, or a more hospital wide problem.

I have now formed an opinion about SFGH: unless you are an illegal, homeless or just like abuse, avoid SFGH at all costs. It does not surprise me that the hospital lost a patient that was about to be checked out,who was found 17 days later dead in an outdoor fire stairwell.

The hospital is very bureaucratic, everyone follows their assigned task and no one would pick up a pencil on the floor if the task wasn't assigned to them. The lies and contradictory statements coming from the staff are a regular occurrence and there is no respect for patients.

One of my pet peeves is people keeping me waiting. If someone isn't at a meeting within 15 minutes of a set appointment, I'm gone. Once a person was delivering a check to me for $25,000 as a retainer. He was late. (I gave him 20 minutes) I was gone. I don't like people who don't respect my time.

SFGH is all about disrespect for patients' time. They regularly overbook all appointments. My first visit to the burn clinic resulted in a 30 minute wait before I raised hell, at which time they took me right away. On my second visit to the clinic, I didn't say anything just to see how long before I was examined. One hour and 10 minutes. My experience at the "Bridge clinic" was even worse. After a 40 minute wait, I met with a woman, who had so much of a negative and condescending attitude that I concluded she really missed her calling. She should be a TSA groper.

What gives at SFGH? It is a bureaucratic mess and they waste a large amount of their time treating people who really aren't sick. There are homeless people all over the place checking in for free food and bed.

During my stay, in the room next to me, I heard this bizarre conversation between a homeless patient and a doctor:

Doctor: So what can we do so that you don't come back to the hospital, again?

Patient: I don't know.

Doctor: We are going to release you and there really is no reason for you to come back. Is there anything we can do so that you don't comeback?

That patient was replaced by another homeless person. During the initial interview with the patient, a nurse asked him if he used any drugs. The patient said he had "smoked a little weed in the morning." It was 9:00 PM and then the patient requested 3 apple juices and a roast beef sandwich, from the nurse.

In the morning, a doctor, obviously familiar with this patient from a previous visit(s), stopped by to see the patient, along with a group of med students.

The conversation went like this:

Doctor: So is this just a visit or are you really going to try to kick your heroin addiction and try some methadone?

The patient mumbled something about "maybe" trying methadone. He then asked what time breakfast was coming.

I have been relatively healthy up to now, so I haven't spent any other time in hospitals. Maybe all hospitals are like SFGH, since Ronald Reagan signed regulations that force hospitals to take in all emergency room patients. Still, I can't believe many hospitals could be worse than SFGH. I suspect part of the problem is that in San Francisco, the city has a program whereby it pays for the medical expenses of low income/no income residents, so by checking these homeless characters in, for SFGH it is like cashing a check. What a scam.

From now on, I am staying as far away from SFGH as possible. I found a nice private clinic that is treating my wound. Pleasant people and on time appointments. The clinic was so efficent and on time that I really thought I was in a dream world, compared to what I experienced at SFGH.

I would advise anyone that is thinking of making any donations to SFGH to think twice. You would be doing nothing but feeding a bizarre, bureaucratic organization that disrespects its patients and couldn't even find a dead patient on its premises for 17 days.


  1. Hospitals are death sentences for the elderly and infants. My mother went in for an emergency ailment. The receiving ER doctor saw that she had 100% coverage and ordered her a room. Over the next three days, technician after technician wheeled their holy hardware into her room to show off their wares, their "expertise," and conduct test after test with never a word about results or about how the results explained anything about the initial diagnosis. To them, she was a fully-functioning ATM. This from a prestigious hospital in So. Cal. outside of LA. Nurses adhere to hospital hierarchy and defer all knowledge, common sense, and ethics to the doctor. I did however witness 1 orderly provide the most remarkable bedside manners that I had ever seen both with his gentle actions and words. Truly the finest I'd ever witnessed. But it went downhill from there. Nurses are layered with assignments. Easier and cheaper to do than to hire nurses fresh out of nursing school. Movies like Halloween and Jason are essential for purging and diffusing and misplacing anger at the murderous and collective incompetence of nurses, hospitals, and its compliant staff.

  2. Oh man, I hope you brought a lap top, cot, some food and maybe some reading material with you when you had decided you were just going to wait it out.

  3. Your previous blog post had escaped me, Mr. Wenzel. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

  4. All hospitals are monopolistic cartels with the expected results of outrageous prices and terrible service. And since virtually no patient can actually afford to pay their sticker prices, all patients are strictly ATMs - bodies on which they can perform procedures and tests in exchange for third-party payments. There is no connection whatsoever between quality and price, with the expected results. They are acting strictly in accordance with their economic incentives, so there is no reason to expect any change unless the underlying economics are changed. I've attended both of my parents during their final illnesses in hospitals. As you say, there are tons of tests and visits with NO reporting of the results. It's impossible for a relative to talk to a doctor because they appear unannounced at odd times, like 5:00am.