Thursday, April 5, 2012

Health Literacy at it's Worst!

The High Cost of Health Literacy

I have been following the story of John Gonzalez, a 70 year old man from Long Island who spent six months in jail after killing his elderly mother.  He was let out with time served and will have five years probation.  The reason he was let go is because the judge and everyone on the case felt bad for him because he was diagnosed with cancer and thought he would soon die.  He was the only person who could care for his mother and out of desperation, took her life and tried to take his own.  The Newsday article by Andrew Smith reads in part; He suffered from diabetes, joint pain and other maladies. Then, when he got a letter from his doctor informing him that a spot on his hand was skin cancer, his poor English led him to believe he was going to die soon and no one would care for his mother, Brown said.
I can only imagine how many other times Mr. Gonzalez has used the healthcare system and didn’t understand the diagnosis and treatment.  The article also reads:  After she died, he tried to kill himself by taking all the insulin he had and slashing his wrists. He was unconscious for four days and, as a result of the insulin overdose, he wrecked his kidneys and now needs dialysis at least three times a week.
So now, not only is a woman dead, but Mr. Gonzalez will be getting medical treatments that will cost the economy plenty – just because he didn’t know where to go for proper information or an interpreter who could help him understand.
More to come – You can count on it!


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