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Two months of small patients

Tomorrow is my last shift in the pediatric ER. I'll miss it; it's been a fun month.

But I'm also looking forward to finally seeing some adults. The kids are great, but there's only so many fevers and rashes and sore throats and crying and ear infections that I can take before I go stark raving mad.


Maybe if we had a decent health-care system in this country, people in the inner-city wouldn't have to bring theirs kids to the ER for the mundane problems that you described.

Maybe (Heidi says to Larry, dubiously.)

Children are notoriously bad at identifying the acuity of their affliction, and parents are notoriously worse at chilling out when said child is kicking up a fuss. To a doctor, the ailments undoubtedly seem mundane. But to a parent, who has never seen their otherwise happy child in pain, it's a catastrophe. An ear-infection may well be the most pain that a child has ever experienced. Why wouldn't this be cataclysmic for a parent?

The health-care system's failures typically fall more heavily on parents rather than children. (Children, after all, are eligible for subsidized health care even when their parents are not.) The adult ER also has its share of people who come in for mundane treatment, but as Carey will attest, the proportions aren't the same. And certainly some of the people who show up -- either as kids or as adults -- do so because they have no other way of obtaining care.

Maybe parents wouldn't freak out if they had health insurance. But do you really believe it? Do you really think that parents can make an accurate medical judgment as to where, and how quickly to seek treatment? I don't.

In many ways, kids are just small adults. But kids are small adults who hold the hearts of large adults in their grubby little fists. Irrationality abounds.

Oh, and Carey? Fevers and rashes and ear infections are many. Crying is a much. So much crying. So many tears.

When I was a kid, I had my share of sore throats and sniffles. And my mother is the type of person who freaks out very easily. Yet, during my childhood, I went to the ER a grand total of once. This was for a broken arm, which obviously requires ER treatment. When I got sick, I was taken to the pediatrician or the family doctor. The ER, with its multi-drug-resistant strains of bacteria, is the last place you would want to take a small child whose resistance is already low, unless the child had something that required it. maybe, when I was growing up, my mother was just more educated than the average layperson about the different types of childhood illnesses, and which ones required emergency care, but health education is part of what I mean when I say "health care system."
All children are eligible for subsidized health care? That's news to me. In any case, the subsidies are apparently not enough, because there are tons of uninsured children out there Carey, your hospital is in an "inner-city" neighborhood, right? I wonder if you would have the same number of sniffles at the ER in Skokie. I suspect you wouldn't. I would think that the reason why fewer adults come to the ER for sniffles and ear infections is because grown-ups have fewer of those problems to begin with, and are more likely to simply "toguh it out", especially if they don't have insurance.

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