Early in the morning on Tuesday, Sept. 1st, Dr. Schweitzer returned to ask if I had changed my mind and to see if there was anything else he could do for me. I hadnt changed my mind because none of the conditions under which I was being held at the Baptist had changed. Dr. Schweitzer gave my husband the names of a couple of other hand surgeons who might be able to help me, including a senior hand surgeon at Newton-Wellesley, Dr. Les Bailey*. He wrote down in my medical records (MR) that he is expecting that I will be given time to contact these surgeons before I am discharged from the Dr. Basilico's service.
This was not what happened. But there was no way for him to know, since he was no longer on the staff at the Baptist and had no influence over anyone there.
We were reassured by his assurances that wed be able to keep looking for a surgeon, and by his friendliness and cordiality. He also suggested that I contact him later if I changed my mind. Once again we tried to pay him, but he refused to accept any money from us.
I knew, given how the staff at the Baptist were treating me, that they would never pay him for my consultations. Looking back on it, and even at the time, I suspect he had a very specific reason for not accepting payment. I think he wanted to leave a door open, to leave the doctor-patient transaction uncompleted in some way, so I would understand that he was still waiting for me.
But before the business day had begun and I got a chance to call the surgeons Dr. Schweitzer had suggested, a bunch of people piled into my room. Dr. Basilico had called a Kafka-esque "Weve already decided youre going to be thrown out of here without surgery" meeting, which goes into my record as a "discharge planning meeting." During this meeting, both case managers and Dr. Basilico tell me that because I have refused to get elbow surgery I am going to be permanently disabled. All three of these people knew at that meeting that I had spent the entire previous day trying desperately to get elbow surgery for myself without any help from any of them, and in Dr. Basilicos case, in spite of his actively working to prevent me from obtaining the surgery I needed.
My husband and I were so stunned and shocked by this latest example of coordinated evildoing, that we hardly knew what to say. No one at this meeting ever asked me any questions or offered to help me in any way. Dr. Basilico conveniently left this meeting just before the case manager threatened to have me discharged to home if I dont cooperate in getting out of there "immediately." I explained that I cannot speed up the work of the staffers at Spaulding in trying to get me admitted; only they can do that. But no one made any response to this statement. They just stared at me with their dead eyes.
Bizarrely, my medical records (MR) state that there was a social worker present at this meeting, presumably to counsel me, though no one at this meeting offered me any kind of help, assurance, assistance, or comfort. Neither my husband nor I has any memory of being introduced to a social worker or receiving any help or counseling from anyone. The mood of the people who piled into my room was barely-repressed rage. Another inaccuracy that appears in my medical records for this meeting is the hospitals assertion that I was given the booklet with the listing of assisted living facilities and senior housing at this time, i.e., after I had turned down Dr. Schweitzers surgery offer.
In fact, the case manager had thrown this booklet onto my bedside tray around two oclock the previous afternoon (see Abused at the Baptist: A Chronology -- Monday). That was hours before I had met with or received a surgery offer from Dr. Schweitzer, but apparently after Dr. Basilico had decided to throw me out of the hospital, regardless of whether or not I had received the surgery I needed.
This was also the first occasion at which my dose of Oxycontin, my primary pain medication, was withheld from me. (MR) No explanation was ever forthcoming from Dr. Basilico or other members of the staff as to why this occurred now. I cannot imagine that it was unconnected to their efforts to get rid of me as quickly as possible. My physical therapy session(s) for this day were also withheld.
In addition, the fainting spells, disorientation, and other neurological complications that had worsened the day and evening before continued to get even worse. By mid-morning, my cognitive and neurological functions had deteriorated so much that the nurses put me on neuro checks. My husband begged anyone who would listen for a consultation with Dr. Rivkin, or with any other neurologist, but none was forthcoming until the nurses apparently contacted a neurologist themselves in the late afternoon.
I was pressured persistently during that day to leave the hospital immediately, including threats to discharge me to home, even though I was, for example, still catheterized and on oxygen at night to help me breathe.
In the meantime, negotiations continued to try and get me into Spaulding.
By this time, my brother, alarmed by what I had told him in a phone call from the previous afternoon, was busy making arrangements to come to Boston and help. He called to say he will be arriving first thing Wednesday morning.
A woman from Spaulding came to review my records. She said that they will accept me into the TCU. All thats left is to make the financial arrangements. For a brief time, I feel a sense of relief. I have private health insurance that will generally pay for anything my doctor specifies.
Once the case management staff finds out that Ive been "accepted" into Spaulding, though, the pressure on me to leave "immediately" intensifies. I explain to the staffers that we are moving as fast as we can, and beg them not to harass the staff at Spaulding while we wait. They continue to harass me, even though there is nothing I can do to accelerate my departure.
Once I knew for sure that I was going to be able to escape from the Baptist, I risked the wrath of Dr. Basilico and the staff, and I called Dr. Douglas Bell, my EENT, myself. Despite repeated requests to Dr. Karlson, Dr. Suzuki, the case managers, and the staff, no one has contacted Dr. Bell for me. I called Dr. Bell around lunch time, and he called me back almost immediately, sounding very concerned. He told me that he had not even been told I was at the hospital, and that he certainly would have come to see me if he had known. He tells me he will come later that day, as soon as he can.
Eventually I received a visit from a staff neurologist, who, though pleasant, does not offer me any medical treatment, assistance, or help of any kind. When informed that I was on the verge of being discharged to home, he simply laughed, and said, "Well, we cant have that, can we?"
Around 4 p.m., Dr. Bell came to visit me. After a careful reading of my CAT scans and X-rays, and a thorough examination, he tells me that it will be better to wait and see what happens with my face and sinuses. I have no idea whether his recommendation would have been different if I had been permitted to see him earlier in my stay.
Dr. Basilico visited me on evening rounds that night for a very brief time. He did not examine me or inquire about my health, or my medical status. He did not inquire about my neurological problems or the progress of my transfer to Spaulding. He did, however, pressure me to leave the hospital, either unaware or pretending not to realize that it was he who was in charge of whether and when I could go.
When we reviewed my medical records from this day we were shocked to discover that Dr. Basilico had described an entire medical exam he never performed that evening. (MR) Included are results of a physical exam that would have required him to touch my body, something my husband would never have allowed, given his previous abusive behavior. But he didn't even try.
Im particularly certain that Dr. Basilico made this exam up, because he reported that he palpated my abdomen and it was unmarked, soft, and not tender. I actually had an enormous, purple-black bruise, the size of a salad plate, covering the entire left side of my abdomen from my ribs down to my hip bone. It was painful to the touch. The doctors in Idaho Falls thought that, most likely, my horse had run over me as I fell, and that this was the mark from it. If Dr. Basilico had actually examined me, he would have found and noted this bruise. His notes also include reports on conversations we never had, with text that had no connection to what we did or said, purporting to describe our opinions, feelings, and intentions. These reports about us tended, unsurprisingly, to support Dr. Basilico's contention that I was a difficult patient who was causing her own problems.
This is the end of the fourth day in which I was not examined by my attending physician, even though I was a bed-ridden, head-injured, multiple-trauma patient. This was yet another day in which no one inquired about my pain level or attempted to adjust my pain medication. This was also a day in which my pain level continued to increase, though I did not know why, because I was not aware at that time that my earlier pain medication had been withheld. (MR)