A few years ago I moonlighted in the ED at a small local hospital. Great place to put in extra shifts and we didn't get nearly as much of the beggar class clientele as at the bigger hospitals. But every ED has their frequent flyers and derelicts. I ran into one at WalMart last night.
Jethro* came in to the ED at least once a week complaining of chest pain. We never found anything wrong and kicked him out as soon as all the tests showed negative. Once he came in and when I went to put patches on him to run an EKG he already had some on. I asked him how long it had been since he'd been checked and he said, "Oh, I haven't had chest pain bad enough to go to the hospital in two days."
"Then where did you get these patches?"
"Jethro, where did you get the patches?"
Poor guy must have had memory problems and suffered from confusion, too, since it took several very firm requests for information before he could answer me. Seems he'd just left the hospital a mile away and come straight to us since they told him there was nothing physically wrong with him.
I called there and had them fax his lab results and EKG, which were fine, and we kicked him out again.
We calculated once that it would be a lot cheaper if all the area hospitals got together and paid him to stay away from the ED, since he was showing up every so often, and was hitting the other ED's in town just as often, never making any attempt to pay his bills.
Oddly enough, several days after every visit we received paperwork from the Social Security office asking for a declaration of disability. Unfortunately for him, none of us think of a dislike for work as a disability.
He was at the time a 42 year old who was convinced the world was against him. He led the saddest life. Just ask him, he'd tell you all about it. His wife was on SSI for a bad back and his child received a "crazy" check, yet he was still expected to work for a living. It was almost more than he could bear.
Anyway, at WalMart last night he recognized me and was proud to tell me he now gets a check from SSI, too. For obesity.
Complete system failure.
*Not his real name