Posts Tagged ‘July 2’

Then and Now

Posted in General on July 2nd, 2010 by Eugene Finerman – 5 Comments

July 2, 1881:  James Garfield’s Experience with American Healthcare

Shot twice by lunatic Charles Guiteau, President Garfield was rushed back to the White House and immediately attended by physicians.  As night fell, the surgeons worked both by kerosene light and the glow of their cigars.  The ashes falling into the president’s body were said to cauterize the wound.  Given the long hours, dinner was provided to the medical staff.  The scalpel served both the patient and the roast beef.  Since the President was unconscious, it was not difficult to balance the food plates on him.

The President died of an inexplicable infection 79 days later.

If it happened today….

Shot twice by radio host Charles Guiteau, President Garfield was rushed to the hospital and immediately interviewed by a registrar.  First, Garfield had to provide proof of insurance.  Upon learning that the President was a veteran, the  registrar had to explain the difference in policies between this hospital and one managed by the Veterans’ Administration.  She then asked if he would like to be transferred.  Unfortunately, the President had lapsed into a coma.  The registrar insisted the interview be continued with the executor of Garfield’s person.  Mrs. Garfield volunteered for that role; however, she first had to provide proof of her identity and a marriage certificate.  The registrar was willing to accept a fax of the document; it could be notarized in the hospital’s billing department.  However, the notary fee was not covered by insurance and would have to be paid immediately.

Once Mrs. Garfield had verified her existence, she then had to answer 100 questions about the President’s health.  She discovered that she somehow had agreed to have the President tested for allergens.  The President would be examined for any  unusual wounds in his body; should any be found then X-Rays, CAT scans, MRIs and ultrasounds would be performed.  Their findings, along with the test results from the allergist, would determine a suitable course of treatment.

Six hours later, the doctors saw that the President had two bullets in his body, an enlarged prostate but an excellent colon.  He was also allergic to shrimp and had been dead for an hour.  However, it wasn’t caused by infection.