Financial assistance for sudden health problems
March 11, 2008 1:13 PM Subscribe
Please help a friend's family with sudden health care issues
posted by MarkLark to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hi all, posting this on behalf of my friend, whose family is going through some tough times at the moment. This is uncharted territory for all parties involved, so I hope to tap the wisdom of the hive mind...
The short question is: Do you know of any medical or financial services that offer assistance to cancer patients without insurance? Also, possible question of malpractice in the extended details below... Family is in Florida.
First, a few facts. Family has no health insurance. Mom is the wage earner in the household. Dad is a veteran, is disabled, but not disabled as a result of military service. He does receive some disability income.
Some months ago, mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.. recently it had progressed to stage 2. Despite their low income and the high cost of treatment, they were able to arrange a payment plan with the doctor/hospital. At this point it is putting a severe financial strain on the family and family members who are helping out, but everything seems ok at this point as she's able to receive the treatment she needs.
This past Friday she went to the doctor to prepare for the chemotherapy treatment to begin in a week's time. Underwent surgery to remove a few nodes on one side, a chemo port was installed on the other side. Later that day, she began complaining of severe migraines, became very dizzy and bedridden. At this point the family became concerned and she was brought to the hospital. She was admitted to the hospital for observation in the early morning hours on Saturday, at which point she lost consciousness. From Saturday through Sunday she received no direct attention from a doctor, family was given very little information as to why mom was not waking up, and was continuously told a 'doctor was on the way' but none ever arrived. So beyond the initial ER doctor who had her admitted for observation, and despite her basically slipping into a coma/losing consciousness, she was never examined. Finally late Sunday/early Monday it was determined she'd need to see a neurologist, and was then moved to another larger hospital in the area.
Upon being given a CT scan by a neurologist at the new hospital, it was determined that she had pressure on the brain, which caused the symptoms that led up to her current condition. They drilled holes to relieve the pressure, but blood came out (if I'm not mistaken, the brain is surrounded by spinal fluid, not blood, so for blood to come out is a bad thing). They then determined that she had a lump of cancerous tissue at the back of her brain, so full-on brain surgery took place to remove some (but not all) of it (not yet sure why only 'some' was removed). This is quite recent (yesterday afternoon) so beyond that I have very little information, other than that the doctors say the procedure went well. They also mentioned that had she not made it to hospital #2 when she did, she would have died that night.
So, all of this is quite a shock to family and friends - not only are they worried about their mom, but how they can possibly afford to pay for this .. so I ask: Do you know of any programs designed to help people in situations like this? I don't know if there's anything that specifically helps cancer victims, or perhaps spouses/family of veterans, something along those lines.
And a secondary question as to whether you think there was questionable treatment at the first hospital... you would think that someone who suddenly loses consciousness for unknown reasons wouldn't have to wait 2 days to be examined by a doctor. I don't know if this approaches the domain of malpractice or if it just the sad state of our health care system. (We're not in a major metro area so this wouldn't be an issue of an overtaxed hospital staff, either.) If anything I question the lack of attention from the hospital may be tied to their lack of insurance. I highly doubt the family would look to sue - it's certainly not on their mind at the moment. But if this would be considered gross negligence I would like them to know this.
Thanks very much for any suggestions you may have... if it would help to have more information, I'll follow up with my friend and post his response..