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patient education

Who Cares for Adult Sickle Cell Patients?

key information

source: Black Health Matters

summary/abstract:

When Janoi Burgess was a child, he thought doctor appointments were fun.

“I used to love it because they had a section where you could play games,” said Burgess, who was born with sickle cell anemia, an inherited blood disorder. “They were really nice and friendly.”

But when he turned 21, the South Florida resident could no longer go to his pediatric specialist. Instead, he “bounced around” to various adult primary care doctors, none of whom seemed well versed in the details of his condition. When he had a painful sickle cell crisis two years later, his only choice was to go to a hospital emergency department, where, he says, he waited three hours for pain medication.

“They triage you based on severity, and pain is not something that they consider as severe” as other conditions, he recently recalled. “One doctor even said, ‘Your labs are OK so you’re not in pain.’ It was crazy and insulting at the same time.”

Burgess’ experience is not unusual among many adult sickle cell patients. The disease affects up to 100,000 people in the United States, most of them African Americans.

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