In April of 2012 my husband had surgery to repair his penis. In response to our question as to whether this surgery could harm my husband's sexual functioning, the doctor's response was “This will be a breeze.” (wink wink) And despite last minute misgivings due to unanticipated events and behaviors on the surgeon's part, we took the plunge and he went in for the surgery.
He was rushed out of the hospital less than 24 hours after this major task b/c apparently the hospital had the wrong insurance coverage in their records (this, despite repeated phone calls and paperwork spelling it all out). They thought he had STATE coverage, and the STATE said they wouldn't pay for my husband to stay beyond 23 hours!!!
Less than 3 hours after arriving home I made my first distressed phone call to the surgeon. I was told he was “unavailable”. The covering doctor said the fever was due to after-surgery lung issues and that if my husband exercised his lungs with the given apparatus everything would be fine. Well, they weren't, and they only got worse.
For the next five days I called with complaints of broken blisters at the surgical site ( his penis), “copious bloody discharge”, excruciating pain, fever. Each and every time I was told the doctor was “unavailable”. Each and every time I was told “this was to be expected.” Visiting nurses were not only NOT assigned, the doctor's office refused to do so; refused to authorize antibiotics; refused to authorize BANDAGES; refused to give him an emergency appointment. And where was the doctor through all this?...”unavailable”.
Finally, my husband got on the phone himself and BEGGED the receptionist to PLEASE PLEASE get him in TODAY. I cannot express the anguish I felt hearing my big strong man crying and begging. The receptionist showed bravery in defying the nursing staff and gave him an appointment. For all intents and purposes our car wasn't drivable, so a friend put us in her car for the one hour drive.
As soon as the doctor saw the condition of my husband's penis (oozing pus and blood and practically unidentifiable as the appendage it was) he said that hubby would have to go back in to the hospital on IV antibiotics. Put on sterile gloves. Took a swab. Then back tracked and said that hubby could go HOME with oral antibiotics and “...let's see what happens...” That's when I chimed in and said: HE IS NOT COMING HOME. The doctor visibly jerked at that, then said he would make arrangements for hubby to be received in the main hospital immediately. So my friend got him to the main hospital, where we had to drop him off b/c she had to get home to her kids and I had no other way of getting home. We believed he would be given a room immediately and be cared for.
Well, he wasn't.
Hospital staff ignored him for the next 4 hours. Finally gave him a room which had no shower facilities, no phone, junk piled up in the corner. Ignored him for the next 2 hours with NO FOOD, NO WATER, NO PAIN MEDS, NO ANTIBIOTICS. I called the doctor, who, I was told yet again, was “unavailable”. I begged the covering doctor to PLEASE PLEASE take care of my husband, he's not in his right mind from the pain. Response: “If he leaves it will be AMA.” Well, 2 hours after that call hubby left the hospital, and got home by calling a cab and paying for it with our electric bill money. After getting home he got in to our unsafe not really drivable car and brought himself to the local small hospital. Within an hour and a half they had him in isolation and would only tend to him with haz-mat suits on. He not only had penile MRSA, he was septic.
His surgeon was...you guessed it...”unavailable”.
My husband called that doctor time after time from that hospital, leaving heart rending messages: “Please do not abandon me.”
Even the staff at the current hospital could only reach that doctor once. And he had a million reasons why he couldn't come.
After he was discharged he had to go back to the original hospital for tests to see what effects the surgery had had on the functioning of his penis. It was mutilated. It no longer worked in any capacity. When he got home we called his insurance carrier who said “You are not to go back to that provider.” Out of state doctors were recommended. Hubby was seen within two days of the new hospital seeing his original records by the head of urology. As far as we know, that hospital has the only viable record of what happened to my husband. The original hospital quickly made all his records disappear. No x-rays. No test results. No operative report. However, my black male husband who had a failed urethroplasty IS documented as being a WHITE FEMALE WITH A POST C-SECTION INFECTION.
I have since learned that the surgeon who did this to my husband has done this to other men.
I also learned that he left this state and moved 3 states away.
And NO, we cannot get a lawyer to take the case. Despite documentary proof in our possession. Despite audio recordings of the doctor openly admitting crucial mistakes. Vermont is a very “old boy's club” closed legal system, and NO ONE will go against the largest most influential hospital in the state or the state itself.
The state of Vermont took away my husband's private insurance, which we were up to date with on premium payments, and for which we took responsibility for any and all co-pays. They said “You're too poor to have this insurance.” And yes, I have that recorded also.
And so once they took away his private insurance it became a struggle just to get the medical supplies he needed to stay alive and to get the rides necessary to get to the one doctor within driving distance who had the knowledge to oversee his care and keep him alive. You see, he was so mutilated, rendered so broken, there isn't one urologist in all of Vermont who can even figure out what was done to hubby in the first place.
This is just Part One. I will write Part Two tomorrow.