Emergency Medicine

ICUs Are Filled With Covid — And Regret

It’s a struggle for Joe Gammon to talk. Lying in his bed in the intensive care unit at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, this month, he described himself as “naive.”  “If I would have known six months ago that this could be possible, this would have been a no-brainer,” said the 45-year-old father of …

ICUs Are Filled With Covid — And Regret Read More »

Telehealth’s Limits: Battle Over State Lines and Licensing Threatens Patients’ Options

If you live in one state, does it matter that the doctor treating you online is in another? Surprisingly, the answer is yes, and the ability to conduct certain virtual appointments may be nearing an end. Televisits for medical care took off during the worst days of the pandemic, quickly becoming commonplace. Most states and …

Telehealth’s Limits: Battle Over State Lines and Licensing Threatens Patients’ Options Read More »

From Uber Vouchers to Patient Advocates: What It Takes to Increase ER Addiction Treatment

For years, Kayla West watched the opioid epidemic tear through her eastern Tennessee community. As a psychiatric nurse practitioner, she treated people with mental illness but felt she needed to do more to address addiction. So in 2020, when the state created a position to help hospitals improve addiction care in the emergency room, West …

From Uber Vouchers to Patient Advocates: What It Takes to Increase ER Addiction Treatment Read More »

How a Hospital and a School District Teamed Up to Help Kids in Emotional Crisis

In 2019, the Rockville Centre school district in Long Island, New York, was shaken by a string of student deaths, including the suicides of a recent graduate and a current student. “When you get these losses, one after the other, you almost can’t get traction on normalcy,” said Noreen Leahy, an assistant superintendent at the …

How a Hospital and a School District Teamed Up to Help Kids in Emotional Crisis Read More »

At Urgent Care, He Got 5 Stitches and a Big Surprise: A Plastic Surgeon’s Bill for $1,040

It was a Sunday morning in late November when Bryan Keller hopped on a bike for a routine ride to pick up his groceries, cruising with ease in a relatively empty New York City. The surprises came fast and hard: a fall that sent his head into the pavement and left him bleeding profusely and …

At Urgent Care, He Got 5 Stitches and a Big Surprise: A Plastic Surgeon’s Bill for $1,040 Read More »

Watch: Cyclist Hits Olympic-Size Medical Bills After Crash

“CBS This Morning,” in partnership with KHN and NPR, interviews Phil Gaimon, a cyclist who had hoped to be in Tokyo next week as a competitor in the track events on the USA Cycling national team. Instead, a crash on the velodrome track in Pennsylvania in 2019 ended his Olympic dream and left him with …

Watch: Cyclist Hits Olympic-Size Medical Bills After Crash Read More »

A Chilling Cure: Facing Killer Heat, ERs Use Body Bags to Save Lives

As a deadly heat wave scorched the Pacific Northwest last month, overwhelming hospital emergency rooms in a region unaccustomed to triple-digit temperatures, doctors resorted to a grim but practical tool to save lives: human body bags filled with ice and water. Officials at hospitals in Seattle and Renton, Washington, said that as more people arrived …

A Chilling Cure: Facing Killer Heat, ERs Use Body Bags to Save Lives Read More »

Hospital ‘Trauma Centers’ Charge Enormous Fees to Treat Minor Injuries and Send People Home

The care was ordinary. A hospital in Modesto, California, treated a 30-year-old man for shoulder and back pain after a car accident. He went home in less than three hours. The bill was extraordinary. Sutter Health Memorial Medical Center charged $44,914 including an $8,928 “trauma alert” fee, billed for summoning the hospital’s top surgical specialists …

Hospital ‘Trauma Centers’ Charge Enormous Fees to Treat Minor Injuries and Send People Home Read More »

How ERs Fail Patients With Addiction: One Patient’s Tragic Death

Jameson Rybak tried to quit using opioids nearly a dozen times within five years. Each time, he’d wait out the vomiting, sweating and chills from withdrawal in his bedroom. It was difficult to watch, said his mother, Suzanne Rybak, but she admired his persistence. On March 11, 2020, though, Suzanne grew worried. Jameson, 30 at …

How ERs Fail Patients With Addiction: One Patient’s Tragic Death Read More »

Rural Ambulance Services Are in Jeopardy as Volunteers Age and Expenses Mount

DUTTON, Mont. — Vern Greyn was standing in the raised bucket of a tractor, trimming dead branches off a tree, when he lost his balance. He fell 12 feet and struck his head on the concrete patio outside his house in this small farming town on the central Montana plains. Greyn, then 58, couldn’t move. …

Rural Ambulance Services Are in Jeopardy as Volunteers Age and Expenses Mount Read More »

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Tips for Fighting Medical Bills from ProPublica’s Marshall Allen

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Veteran health journalist Marshall Allen has been exposing health care grifters for years. Now, he’s written a book about how to fight them. Host Dan Weissmann spoke with Allen about some of the best tips from “Never Pay the First Bill: And Other Ways to Fight the …

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Tips for Fighting Medical Bills from ProPublica’s Marshall Allen Read More »

A Hospital Charged $722.50 to Push Medicine Through an IV. Twice.

Claire Lang-Ree was in a lab coat taking a college chemistry class remotely in the kitchen of her Colorado Springs, Colorado, home when a profound pain twisted into her lower abdomen. She called her mom, Jen Lang-Ree, a nurse practitioner who worried it was appendicitis and found a nearby hospital in the family’s health insurance …

A Hospital Charged $722.50 to Push Medicine Through an IV. Twice. Read More »

In Alleged Health Care ‘Money Grab,’ Nation’s Largest Hospital Chain Cashes In on Trauma Centers

After falling from a ladder and cutting his arm, Ed Knight said, he found himself at Richmond, Virginia’s Chippenham Hospital surrounded by nearly a dozen doctors, nurses and technicians — its crack “trauma team” charged with saving the most badly hurt victims of accidents and assaults. But Knight’s wound, while requiring about 30 stitches, wasn’t …

In Alleged Health Care ‘Money Grab,’ Nation’s Largest Hospital Chain Cashes In on Trauma Centers Read More »

Colorado Will Pay Hospitals to Close Expensive Free-Standing ERs

Colorado health officials so abhor the high costs associated with free-standing emergency rooms they’re offering to pay hospitals to shut the facilities down. This story also ran on Fortune. It can be republished for free. The state wants hospitals to convert them to other purposes, such as providing primary care or mental health services. At …

Colorado Will Pay Hospitals to Close Expensive Free-Standing ERs Read More »

En los Apalaches y el delta del Mississippi, millones deben viajar lejos para recibir atención por accidentes cerebrovasculares

Una mañana de verano en 2019, Debbie Cook estaba todavía en pijamas cuando recibió una llamada de su hijo: “Algo malo le pasa a la abuela”. This story also ran on Investigate TV. It can be republished for free. Por el miedo en la voz de su hijo supo que se trataba de algo serio. …

En los Apalaches y el delta del Mississippi, millones deben viajar lejos para recibir atención por accidentes cerebrovasculares Read More »

In Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta, Millions Face Long Drives to Stroke Care

Debbie Cook was in her pajamas on a summer morning in 2019 when she got a call from her son: “Something bad is wrong with Granny.” This story also ran on Investigate TV. It can be republished for free. The fear in his voice told Cook it was serious. She dialed 911 immediately, knowing it …

In Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta, Millions Face Long Drives to Stroke Care Read More »

Analysis: I Was a Teenage Rifle Owner, Then an ER Doctor. Assault Weapons Shouldn’t Count as ‘Guns.’

Many who know me might be shocked by this: I shot my first pistol when I was 8 or 9, taught by my father, a physician, aiming at targets in our basement. At summer camp, I loved riflery the way some kids loved art. Staring through the sight, down the barrel, I proved an excellent …

Analysis: I Was a Teenage Rifle Owner, Then an ER Doctor. Assault Weapons Shouldn’t Count as ‘Guns.’ Read More »

‘Into the Covid ICU’: A New Doctor Bears Witness to the Isolation, Inequities of Pandemic

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. This story also ran on Reveal. It can be republished for free. This week marks a grim milestone: Half a million Americans have died of covid-19. KHN reporter Jenny Gold, in collaboration with Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, spent eight months …

‘Into the Covid ICU’: A New Doctor Bears Witness to the Isolation, Inequities of Pandemic Read More »

‘It Doesn’t Feel Worth It’: Covid Is Pushing New York’s EMTs to the Brink

This story also ran on The Guardian. It can be republished for free. In his 17 years as an emergency medical provider, Anthony Almojera thought he had seen it all. “Shootings, stabbings, people on fire, you name it,” he said. Then came covid-19. Before the pandemic, Almojera said it was normal to respond to one …

‘It Doesn’t Feel Worth It’: Covid Is Pushing New York’s EMTs to the Brink Read More »

Is Your Covid Vaccine Venue Prepared to Handle Rare, Life-Threatening Reactions?

As the rollout of covid-19 vaccines picks up across the U.S., moving from hospital distribution to pharmacies, pop-up sites and drive-thru clinics, health experts say it’s vital that these expanded venues be prepared to handle rare but potentially life-threatening allergic reactions. “You want to be able to treat anaphylaxis,” said Dr. Mitchell Grayson, an allergist-immunologist …

Is Your Covid Vaccine Venue Prepared to Handle Rare, Life-Threatening Reactions? Read More »

In Los Angeles and Beyond, Oxygen Is the Latest Covid Bottleneck

As Los Angeles hospitals give record numbers of covid patients oxygen, the systems and equipment needed to deliver the life-sustaining gas are faltering. It’s gotten so bad that Los Angeles County officials are warning paramedics to conserve it. Some hospitals are having to delay releasing patients as they don’t have enough oxygen equipment to send …

In Los Angeles and Beyond, Oxygen Is the Latest Covid Bottleneck Read More »

As the Terror of COVID Struck, Health Care Workers Struggled to Survive. Thousands Lost the Fight.

This story also ran on The Guardian. It can be republished for free. Workers at Garfield Medical Center in suburban Los Angeles were on edge as the pandemic ramped up in March and April. Staffers in a 30-patient unit were rationing a single tub of sanitizing wipes all day. A May memo from the CEO …

As the Terror of COVID Struck, Health Care Workers Struggled to Survive. Thousands Lost the Fight. Read More »

‘Nine Months Into It, the Adrenaline Is Gone and It’s Just Exhausting’

USE OUR CONTENT It can be republished for free. In March, during the first week of the San Francisco Bay Area’s first-in-the-nation stay-at-home order, KHN spoke with emergency department physicians working on the front lines of the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, these doctors reported dire shortages of personal protective equipment and testing supplies. …

‘Nine Months Into It, the Adrenaline Is Gone and It’s Just Exhausting’ Read More »

In COVID Hot Zones, Firefighters Now ‘Pump More Oxygen Than Water’

This story also ran on The Guardian. It can be republished for free. As a boy, Robert Weber chased the blazing lights and roaring sirens of fire engines down the streets of Brooklyn, New York. He hung out at the Engine 247 firehouse, eating ham heroes with extra mayonnaise, and “learning everything about everything to …

In COVID Hot Zones, Firefighters Now ‘Pump More Oxygen Than Water’ Read More »

What Happened When the Only ER Doctor in a Rural Town Got COVID

Kurt Papenfus, a doctor in Cheyenne Wells, Colorado, started to feel sick around Halloween. He developed a scary cough, intestinal symptoms and a headache. In the midst of a pandemic, the news that he had COVID-19 wasn’t surprising, but Papenfus’ illness would have repercussions far beyond his own health. Papenfus is the lone full-time emergency …

What Happened When the Only ER Doctor in a Rural Town Got COVID Read More »

After Kid’s Minor Bike Accident, Major Bill Sets Legal Wheels in Motion

Adam Woodrum was out for a bike ride with his wife and kids on July 19 when his then 9-year-old son, Robert, crashed. “He cut himself pretty bad, and I could tell right away he needed stitches,” said Woodrum. This story also ran on NPR. It can be republished for free. Because they were on …

After Kid’s Minor Bike Accident, Major Bill Sets Legal Wheels in Motion Read More »

Need a COVID-19 Nurse? That’ll Be $8,000 a Week

DENVER — In March, Claire Tripeny was watching her dream job fall apart. She’d been working as an intensive care nurse at St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood, Colorado, and loved it, despite the mediocre pay typical for the region. But when COVID-19 hit, that calculation changed. She remembers her employers telling her and her colleagues …

Need a COVID-19 Nurse? That’ll Be $8,000 a Week Read More »

Parents Complain That Pediatricians, Wary of COVID, Shift Sick Kids to Urgent Care

A mom of eight boys, Kim Gudgeon was at her wits’ end when she called her family doctor in suburban Chicago to schedule a sick visit for increasingly fussy, 1-year-old Bryce. He had been up at night and was disrupting his brothers’ e-learning during the day. “He was just miserable,” Gudgeon said. “And the older …

Parents Complain That Pediatricians, Wary of COVID, Shift Sick Kids to Urgent Care Read More »

‘All You Want Is to Be Believed’: The Impacts of Unconscious Bias in Health Care

In mid-March, Karla Monterroso flew home to Alameda, California, after a hiking trip in Utah’s Zion National Park. Four days later, she began to develop a bad, dry cough. Her lungs felt sticky. The fevers that persisted for the next nine weeks grew so high — 100.4, 101.2, 101.7, 102.3 — that, on the worst …

‘All You Want Is to Be Believed’: The Impacts of Unconscious Bias in Health Care Read More »

Veteran’s Appendectomy Launches Excruciating Months-Long Battle Over Bill

In late August 2019, Shannon Harness awoke to serious pain in the lower right side of his abdomen — a telltale sign of appendicitis. He booked it to the emergency room of the only hospital in the county: Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center in Salida, Colorado. After a CT scan, doctors told Harness …

Veteran’s Appendectomy Launches Excruciating Months-Long Battle Over Bill Read More »

‘Is This When I Drop Dead?’ Two Doctors Report From the COVID Front Lines

Health workers across the country looked on in horror when New York became the global epicenter of the coronavirus. Now, as physicians in cities such as Houston, Phoenix and Miami face their own COVID-19 crises, they are looking to New York, where the caseload has since abated, for guidance. The Guardian sat in on a …

‘Is This When I Drop Dead?’ Two Doctors Report From the COVID Front Lines Read More »