How does coming "right to the hospital" turn into arriving five hours later? I don't know, but such behavior is not uncommon for our patient population. People will say they're coming in to talk to us and then not show up. No shows are also common at our hospital's clinics. Last week I wrote about my conversation with a woman carrying a baby with Trisomy 18. She was one hour late for our appointment, and when we finally met she neither apologized for nor even mentioned her tardiness.
When I started dealing with patients in medical school, I was surprised at how irresponsible their behavior was. Non-compliance with treatment recommendations and missed appointments were common. Coming from a pretty straight Midwestern family - one where you showed up when you said you would, and one where you would take your medicine if your doctor told you to - I certainly hadn't expected that. Now I practically plan on people missing their appointments.
What's the reason for such behavior? I don't know. I suppose if you don't have reliable transportion, a common problem for my patients, it could be difficult to get where you're supposed to be on time. But I think it's more than that. I think life is looser for some in my patient population. Responsibilities just aren't that important.
Which may be why generation after generation remain poor and uneducated, with lousy or no jobs.