I have a client on Medi Cal. He is poor. He is close to homeless. He desperately needed to see a dentist. He went to one who accepted his insurance. It is not easy to find one who will. It does not pay enough. He needed four root canals.
The dentist completed three of them, and when he began the fourth, the Novocaine did not cause numbness. As they were working on this, the dentist began fumbling in my client’s mouth and suddenly said, “Call 911.” It turned out a file had gone down my client’s throat.
He was raced to the hospital. They could not retrieve the file. He was inpatient for two days until the file passed. When released, he tried to find another dentist to complete the work. The nerve was exposed as the procedure had begun, and he was very uncomfortable. I will not elaborate, but he ended up going to many facilities that encouraged him to come in, and then, once there (driving distances), found reasons they could not do the work. Within a short time, the incomplete root canal was infected and he needed an antibiotic before anyone would see him.
To listen to the specificity of his story was upsetting. It is fortunate he is bright, competent, and unrelenting, because most likely would have not pursued this with Medi Cal to find a solution.
Discrimination against the poor.