What do you get if you take one professional dog walker, two dogs, a dog park and put them all together on one hot spring evening?
Let me be more specific.
One of the dogs is called Hippy and the other dog is called Indie, this is what Hippy looked like when she was a very young puppy…
But she is a lot bigger now and so is Indie.
Yes, that’s right, there was a big clue in the title of this post, the answer is a broken leg.
This is precisely how it happened; the two dogs were running around together having fun in the fully fenced and self-contained off leash dog park area when Mrs Bobinoz noticed them hurtling towards her. She tried to sidestep them at the same time as they swerved to avoid her.
One of the dogs managed to ‘head-butt’ my wife firmly on the knee flooring her completely. The dogs head, of course, was completely fine. Karen though, well, she couldn’t walk.
Injured dog walking? The woman who runs a business in charge of Dog Walking in Australian Quarantine…
Oh the irony; this is like a plumber getting his toe stuck in a bath tap or a chef getting food poisoning.
Breaking a Leg: UK and Australia Compared
Last time I attended a hospital accompanying a broken leg victim it would have been in 2001 and back in the UK. Here’s how that went:
- Arrive at hospital around 9 PM
- Queue to see receptionists to give details
- Wait to have an x-ray
- Wait to see the specialist to show him the x-ray
- Having confirmed the leg is broken, await treatment
- Have leg set in plaster
- Finally leave hospital at around 6 o’clock in the morning
Yes, that’s how it really happened; it was not uncommon to spend between 6 to 10 hours in an emergency department of a hospital in the UK. On the negative side, that’s a long time, on the positive side, everything was done completely free of charge apart from the (at the time) £3.00 cost to park in the hospital car park.
So, it would have been around 5:30 PM when I got a telephone call from Mrs Bobinoz explaining the situation and asking me to come and pick her up as she couldn’t possibly drive her car.
Before I left to pick her up though, I telephoned our local doctors reception and explained the situation.
“Yes, swing by and we’ll get the doctor to look at your wife’s leg” said the receptionists.
By about 6 PM Karen’s leg was already being inspected by the doctor, he wasn’t convinced it was broken but did want her to have an x-ray first thing in the morning. Meanwhile he gave her some tablets to relieve the pain.
- Cost of consultation: $80 less Medicare rebate of $36 equals $44.
They lend us crutches…
Next morning we went to one of the local x-ray departments, in our case we went to Queensland Diagnostic Imaging (QDI) but we could have chosen from any one of around three or four that are within a 10 km radius. These are privately run places, they do charge a fee for their services but we have no idea what it is, it’s covered by Medicare.
When that happens here, it’s called ‘bulk billing’. So, Karen had her leg x-rayed, handed over her Medicare card and walked out with the x-rays under her arm without having to pay. We had arrived without an appointment at around 9:20 AM and we were back in the car on our way home by about 9:55.
We then had to return to the doctors to show him the x-rays, by the time we got there he already had the report sent by email from QDI.
It turned out that the x-ray was not conclusive. The leg did not look broken, but there was a very thin grey line in evidence, both the QDI report and our doctor could not decide whether it was a break or not.
The advice given was to keep her weight off of the leg, see how it felt over the next few days and if it didn’t appear to be getting less painful, to go back to the x-ray department to have a CT scan which would show more detail.
- Cost of another consultation: $80 less Medicare rebate of $36 equals $44.
8:30 AM on the Monday morning Karen is on the phone booking a CT scan. She gets a 10 AM appointment, but needs to be there by 9:45 AM. She is, fills in the forms and at about 10:05 somebody pops their head out to where Karen is waiting in the reception to apologise for the delay.
By 10:30 AM Karen is walking (sorry, hobbling) out of the place with her CT scan under her arm to be picked up and driven home by her friend who took her there as this place is right next to a shopping centre she was happy to visit.
Monday afternoon, back at the doctors, a break in the leg is confirmed and the doctor recommends we attend the emergency department at the hospital as soon as possible.
Cost of another consultation: $0 – “Let’s just call it an ongoing consultation” the receptionist said, probably feeling sorry for her by now.
So, by 2:45 PM on Monday we were at…
- We go to window number 1 to be assessed in terms of how ‘urgent’ our case is
- We go to window number 2 to give over personal details, name, address, etc
- Then we wait
- About an hour later, somebody comes out to speak to Karen and apologises for the delay explaining that they are very busy today
- About 4:20 PM Karen is seen by the doctor who confirms that no movement in the fracture has occurred and he fits a removable splint
- The doctor also arranges an appointment for the next available date, which turns out to be Thursday, with the Orthopaedic Department. So tomorrow we will be going back to…
There you have it, we are now all up-to-date. That’s breaking a leg in the UK compared with breaking a leg in Australia.
Which is best?
It’s hard to say, spending nine hours up through until 6 AM in the morning in an emergency department in the UK is thoroughly uncivilised, but it is also free and gets the job done in one go.
Here in Australia things seem to be far more civilised and waiting times vastly reduced. But adding it all up with (including all travelling time) two visits to QDI at about an hour and a half each, two visits to the doctors at about 30 minutes each and then two visits to the hospital at about 3 1/2 hours each, we get to 11 hours and of course, we’ve also had to pay $88.
Oh, I forgot, parking at the Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital was $23, so $111 in all.
So, on the face of it, the UK wins.
Here’s the problem though; if the leg hadn’t been broken then we would have saved heaps of time by going to the doctors first, but as it turns out the leg was broken. We may well have been better off driving straight to the emergency department of the hospital on day one.
In that case, our experience may have been similar to the UK one except quicker but more expensive, as in $23 instead of £3.00. Maybe not though, it’s impossible to tell unless we break another leg to test it.
So it’s not really possible to tell you which system is best, but I hope you have found this insight into Australian medical care interesting. Here is the only conclusion I made:
It’s best not to break a leg, wherever you are.
Note: not all doctors charge $80, prices vary, some can be as low as $50 but the rebate remains the same.
Have you recently broken a leg? Wherever you are in whatever country, we’d love to hear your story to find out how quickly or slowly you were fixed up, what you had to do to get sorted and how much it cost you. Please let us know in the comments below…
Update: part two of this post can be seen by clicking…