Nurse’s Furious Takedown of US Healthcare System Goes Viral
In a video posted on TikTok, 27-year-old San Diego-based nurse Lex Hinkley, laid out some of her qualms with the healthcare system.
“It is virtually impossible to be an ethical healthcare worker in this extremely unethical healthcare system,” she began. “The amount of times I’ve had to discharge patients back to situations where I knew they weren’t going to be able to take care of themselves, but I had no other options, is truly too hard to even give a number to.
“If my career as a healthcare worker has done anything to my worldview or life, it has simply radicalised me further than anyone could believe.”
Ms Hinkley, who has said she has been a nurse for four years and worked in seven states, said ”there is no way shape or form that we improve our society as a whole without completely dismantling for-profit healthcare.”
To demonstrate how for-profit healthcare companies value making money more than patients’ wellbeing, she shared a heartbreaking tale. She pointed to a recent example in Louisville, Kentucky where hospitals have been scrutinised for leaving “leaving patients outside on f***ing sidewalks” rather than being placed inside the shelters.
The nurse was referring to a local hospital employee’s complaint made to a local news outlet, WAVE. The employee reported seeing security dumping an elderly woman just outside of the hospital, throwing her out of her wheelchair onto the sidewalk. This prompted the outlet to investigate further.
A reporter began filming what was going on outside of the hospital, and eventually saw another patient being dumped from the hospital grounds—on a cold December day— allegedly because she was homeless and asked to leave despite being there for diabetes and COPD treatment.
“In order to understand what could potentially lead to a situation like this, we need to know two things,” Ms Hinkley said. One, the nurse detailed, is the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), a federal law that states “that anyone who has an emergency must be treated or stabilized, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay,” according to the American College of Emergency Physicians.
“Patient dumping,” as the upsetting practice is called, has long been an issue. The AMA Journal of Ethics even wrote about it in 2009, underscoring “EMTALA’s inability to curb denial of treatment,” due to the law’s ambiguity and lack of enforcement. It’s unclear if these are the same problems that lead to patient dumping in 2023.
The second thing, Ms Hinkley explained, is “when you defund social programs”—like senior care, psychiatric care, or homeless shelters — people end “up in the ER.”
“When you defund the safety nets that our society needs to prevent people from beginning a crisis, a downward spiral, they end up in the ER and simply put, ER workers and hospital workers are already at their f***ing wit’s end,” she continued.
“We cannot act as a catch all for every single issue in society, and yet, we are here we are doing it. And at the very f***ing same time, treating people like literal f***ing garbage should never f***ing happen.”
The 27-year-old added that while medical professionals have no options, she placed blame on the executives. “The only way to fix situations as unethical and disgusting as this from happening is to fund solutions. We need to fund proper safety nets for our society,” she said.
“In this country, if you lose your job, you lose your health insurance, you potentially lose all of your income, which means you’re not going to be able to pay rent,” Ms Hinkley added.
“Well, then what happens if you get sick? Do you see what I’m saying? We don’t have safety nets for our poor in this country,” the nurse added. “We have a greased chute, and at the very bottom of that greased chute of poverty is a trip to your local emergency room because everything ends up in the ER and then we have nowhere to place people.”
She said ER employees have “to answer for all of these executives…who have privately funded their own bank accounts instead of publicly funding our communities.”
Ms Hinkley added that the solutions are there but come with a cost. “And we as a society have said that we’re A-okay with 400 people having 70 per cent of the nation’s wealth while our community members get treated like this,” she said.
Social media users praised the nurse’s rant.
One wrote, “This is why so many of us healthcare workers are leaving the field. We just can’t take it anymore.”
Another commented, “Can’t agree more. I’m so morally distressed and burnt out. I left the ER [because] of the emotional turmoil it caused in me.”
(This story originally appeared in Independent.)