A Primer on Queue-Jumping in the Health Care System

Have you ever asked a friend who sells electronics to give you a bargain? Have you ever asked a family member who's a contractor to give you a deal on that new kitchen? Everybody does it. So why should health care be any different?

This week on White Coat, Black Art, we explore queue-jumping in health care and the many ways people do it. The easiest way to jump the queue is to know someone on the inside. You'll hear stories of physicians, nurses, and other health professionals who use their connections to get faster health care for their family and friends. We talk to a savvy woman who works as a hospital fundraiser. She says volunteering at the hospital is a great way to make connections with health care providers.

Connections are the key. You may think you don't know anyone in medicine. But, if you work your connections, you may soon discover that you know someone who knows someone who can help you.

We also explore the relationship between hospital benefactors and the care they receive. It should come as no surprise that hospitals hire people to work in donor relations. Their job is to make certain benefactors are treated well should they need the hospital's services. People tend to get worked up over this. Unfortunately, our hospitals seem to depend on the good will of major donors. Giving them a bit of extra TLC is the least we can do to say thanks.

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Previous Comments (5)

I work in healthcare and queue jumping for whatever reason is inexcusable. I agree wholeheartedly with the triage nurses. The MDs should all take a course in medical ethics. They obviously don't know the meaning of the term.

John Tagg, June 9, 2008 11:51 AM

I'm certain if we felt compelled to give women their due for all the underpaid and volunteer work they do in the health care system we'd have to tell the guy with the fat wallet to get to the back of the line.

Giving due is not what's going on. Dear Dr. Goldman.

riv, June 12, 2008 9:22 PM

Dear Dr. Goldman,

Almost in each of your program your colleagues demand better pay from the government. In Ontario we have about 30K licensed doctors and taxpayers are not able to pay more our MDs. As a taxpayer, I consider that doctors in Canada are treated by the government very well; doctors should rather praise government for what it does for MDs; very often in expense of the public. I would appreciate it, if in one of the programs Dr. Goldman would release the details of doctors pay, like average gross income per year (not residents but licensed MDs, GP and professionals). These details are known in medical profession, but not very much to public.

Here is a list of privileges reserved only to a MD in Ontario.

1. Guaranteed employment
2. Very high pay, although doctors are paid by government their incomes is not published, as most of them have self-employed status while the names of employees in Ontario with gross salary over 100K are published (Can we know what is the lowest entry pay for a licensed MD in Canada)
3. Freedom to work as independent; because of this MS are able to claim huge overhead (your colleagues are complaining for large overhead, other professionals have large overhead but they are not able to claim it. Few years ago MDs in Ontario were offered 30% increased with a condition that they would accept salary work; it does not appear that doctors liked it)
4. Patients are forced to use only Canadian MDs service (it would be beneficial for patients to have a choice to get medical service abroad, with the assumption that OHIP would reimbursed up to the fee paid to MDs practicing in Ontario; this would not increase cost of medical care in Ontario, public would enjoy better service; obviously this would not be good to MDs)
5. Very limited control of MDs charges (in private/company insurance, patient is advised how much dentist, chiropractor, etc was paid)

Closing comments:

1. We still have some dedicated, good doctors with high professional ethics (one of them is even Gold Man), but their number is decreasing.
2. Public, politicians and medical profession must not forget that the medical care costs are limited, while medical needs are not.
3. There is no such thing as equal access medical care, neither in Canada nor in other country.

Andrzej, June 14, 2008 4:25 PM

Queue jumping? hell yea! If it is within my means to get myself or my family better care, then I'd be an idiot not to use it...and my mother didn't raise idiots.

As a health care worker I become privy to 'insider' information on how to work the system to my benefit, who is the surgeon to stay away from and how to get a referal quickly and painlessly. It would be unethical for me not to use the information and knowledge I have to help people. I also offer suggestions to non-relatives on ways to work the system to their benefit.
You can bet your last insurance payment that those triage nurses will corner the ER physician in the back and ask for advise and referals when they need care.


health, June 15, 2008 1:54 PM

What you describe is the reality of what takes place. I can't fault you for that; the challenge we all face is how to make the system fair to all. Donations would not be able to sustain the system, so I think that administrators at hospitals are allowing faulty logic to creep into their thinking. It is the core group - the tax payers that we should strive to serve.

It is a tall task, but we have to face reality in the face and carry on.

Ali Ahmed

Ali Ahmed, November 8, 2009 1:16 PM
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