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Kansas Citians Share Health Care Horror Stories

Artur Bergman
Flickr -- CC


A broken jaw during gall bladder surgery. Waiting 95 minutes for a doctor’s appointment. Being hit by a nurse.

When we asked, “What was your worst experience with health care in Kansas City?” you didn’t hold back.

Complaints ranged from access to health care to interactions with health professionals and facilities gone wrong.

“Diagnosed with menopause at 38 via a false positive bloodtest. Then put on hormones, got cysts. 100s of errors happened to me,” BJ Sehorn-Pontalion (@bjpontalion) tweets us.

Here are some of the other stories we heard via Twitter:

Kathy Wilkes, of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, tells us of her botched gall bladder surgery that left her grappling with jaw pain for three years.

Credit Courtesy photo / Kathy Wilkes
Kathy Wilkes
Kathy Wilkes, of Lee's Summit, Missouri

“I ended up staying a night there (at the hospital) and none of the nurses would listen to my complaint about my jaw hurting,” Wilkes writes in an online survey we sent to members of our Tell KCUR source network.

While many of these health care horror stories cite medical errors, another theme emerged.

The Kansas Citians we heard from expressed feelings of being disconnected from their care — so much so that they felt uncared for by their physicians.

For example, Michael Brockhaus, of Kansas City, Kansas, tells us about the burden of “constantly needing to self-advocate for my care, double checking everything a doctor (or) nurse does after habitual mistakes,” like not reading his chart or prescribing medication that already has failed.

Brockhaus, who filled out our online survey, went on to describe challenges in obtaining the specialized care he needs.

“Specialists are very difficult to get an appointment with,” he writes.

“I had a ... meeting with a cardiologist and we (thought) my issue was emergent — this cardiologist nurse calls me the day of my appt and says he cannot see me and needed a reschedule for THREE MONTHS into the future," he writes. 

While our main Tell KCUR question asked patients for negative experiences with health care in Kansas City, our survey did ask people to share their best experiences, as well. The few people who did provide responses to that question, however, declined to give us permission to publish their comments.

Credit Courtesy photo / Michael Brockhaus
Michael Brockhaus
Michael Brockhaus, right, with his nephew, Jayden.

So, what will it take to bring opposite ends of the health care spectrum closer together in the Kansas City area? Our Heartland Health Monitor looks at this question and others more deeply next week as reporter Alex Smith digs into the health disparities between Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas.

Tune in to KCUR 89.3 Jan. 11 through Jan. 15 for special reporting on the impact of health on neighborhoods on the Kansas side of the metro.

Have your own health care horror story to share? Tell us here.

Tell KCUR is part of an initiative to engage the community and shine a light on your experiences and opinions. Become a part of our Tell KCUR source networkand help inform our reporting. 

Alyson Raletz is KCUR's social media editor. She can be reached at alyson@kcur.org or follow her on Twitter, @alysonraletz.

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