The UX of Breaking Bones

My kid just broke his arm.


He was on a skateboard for the first time.  What could possibly go wrong?  Well, he smacked onto the pavement and broke both big bones in his forearm.  Luckily, he was only a block away and his brothers came and got me.

I could see from 40 feet away.  Yup, broken.  Just like Joe Thiesmann’s leg. (1:42) **Warning** Do not click that link.  Do not look.  Look away! You have been warned.

Anyway, Jared seemed fine when I saw him.  His arm looked like a boomarang, and it hurt a little but mostly he was fine.  Obviously, he was in shock.  I immediately got him in the car and started driving to the emergency room.

During the ride (20 minutes), the shock started to wear off.  The pain started showing up.  It wasn’t pretty.  He was starting to panic.  We arrived at the emergency room and walked right in.  They knew it what happened immediately and walked us to a triage station.

The nurse asked him, “On a scale of 1-10, how much does it hurt?”  His answer could be seen on the look on his face.  It screamed, “Duh! 10!”

They gave him some drugs pretty quickly.  The pain subsided to a 5 out of 10.  Next, x-rays.  Yup broken.  Then they needed the anesthesiologist to knock him out to fix it.  They said they needed to wait 8 hours after last eating.  I get why they do this, but it meant we had to wait until 2:30 am to get his arm fixed.

He hung in there like a trooper.  They knocked him out and then manhandled his arm until the bones snapped back into place with an audible CLICK.  Then a nice soft cast because there is swelling.  In a few days, he will get a hard cast for 2 months.

The hospital was a pleasant enough experience, but you could tell that every person was very careful with their words.  There is a very real malpractice lawsuit potential in a hospital.  They never want to mismanage expectations.  Better to say, “I don’t know”.

I’ve broken my wrist and ankle. There were lawsuits about the ankle, which were settled, but I think in hindsight it was all my fault. The psychology is straight-forward, we feel that broken bones are painful and inconvenient.  We should be paid for this situation.  We sue because we don’t want to feel like it’s just my own damn fault for climbing over that snowpile.  Or for Jared, stepping on that skateboard.

Clearly, there are times when someone legitimately screws up, like being drunk during an operation.  But lawsuits for malpractice have made it difficult to practice medicine, which have made it very expensive.

Broken bones heal.  I’m not sure how we heal the other parts.

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