The View From Your Sickbed

by Patrick Appel

A reader writes:

The post from an ER pediatric physician hits close-to-home for me. He talks about the young teenager with chest pain, and wasteful tests that could be avoided by talking to the family and a simple examination. True, no doubt, but my story ends a little differently. My six year-old son had a chest cold, and our pediatrician while listening to his lungs thought perhaps he noticed a slight rubbing sound in his heart.

The pediatrician had never heard the sound before in examining my son, and was quite confident that it was not cardiac-related. But just to be sure, he suggested we see a pediatric cardiologist at a nationally recognized children’s hospital that just happened to be within an hour’s drive of our home, AND covered by my wife’s generous insurance. Our son seemed to be recovering from his cold just fine, and had no other symptoms, but we decided to get him checked out anyway because you can never be too sure with your own children. You know what’s coming next, right? The cardiologist conducted a full echocardiogramvery expensive, yes--which uncovered a major heart defect. My son had open-heart surgery, and has thankfully recovered beautifully. I’m all for figuring out a way to make the system less wasteful, but the technology exists for a purpose; to save lives like my son’s.