Ableism in Medical Care Has Life or Death Consequences

By Kristen Hanson: For Entire Post, Go Here…

Melissa Hickson’s husband, Michael, was a 46-year old quadriplegic suffering from COVID-19 who died after the hospital ended his treatment because of what they considered to be his low quality of life. Hickson’s experience, like mine, highlights the ableism that permeates our medical system and often results in a refusal to treat those whose lives are considered not worth living.    

Navigating a system where the doctors and insurers hold all the power is overwhelming, but that is where I found myself in May 2014. When my late husband, J. J. Hanson, unexpectedly had a grand mal seizure at 33 years old. I quickly realized that J.J. would surely die if I did not advocate fiercely on his behalf.

After his bloodwork and CT scan came back normal, the ER nurse informed us J.J. would be discharged that evening. I asked if they had done an MRI and I was told that our insurance had a high deductible and an MRI was not necessary. I insisted that they do an MRI before J.J. was discharged.  

The next morning, the neurologist planned to send J.J. home without medications because about half of the people who have seizures never have one again. When I inquired about the results of his MRI, I was shocked to learn that the neurologist did not know that J.J. had had one, let alone the results. After reviewing the results, the doctor informed us J.J. had two lesions on his brain and a biopsy was needed to determine if the lesions were cancerous.  

I shudder to think of what would have happened if I had not insisted on the MRI.  

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