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Alumna advises students: be assertice when at Tang

Last spring I was very sick, so I did what any reasonable very sick person would do: I went to the Tang Center.

I explained my symptoms and explained that every spring I get a sinus infection and need antibiotics.

They sent me home without the needed medication, saying that antibiotics were over prescribed and they weren’t sure they were necessary, despite my medical history.

Not surprisingly, I got sicker. In fact, I got so sick that I broke a rib by coughing. It’s the diagnosis of the broken rib that prompted me to write this letter.

I went back to Tang because of the rib pain. The doctor I saw said I did not need x-rays and that I had probably just pulled a muscle.

He gave me vicodin for the pain and sent me home. Also, he still did not give me the antibiotics I needed to get better.

Ultimately, I called my old pediatrician in Los Angeles and she prescribed them for me over the phone. I stopped coughing within days of starting the antibiotics that Tang had refused me. Almost a year later, I went to my family physician for a check-up and told her about the continuing pain in my side.

She immediately ordered an x-ray which showed that my rib had been broken for a while. While there’s no way to treat an injury of this kind, I may have been exasperating the problem by poking at and massaging the area, thinking it was just a muscle problem.

Students, please be careful at the Tang center. My experience is not the only bad one-a friend of mine with mono went undiagnosed for months while they insisted he had a bad cold.

The doctors there were ready to prescribe me a narcotic rather than send me to get an x-ray, and they never provided the antibiotics that my illness and medical history showed they should have.

Be strong advocates for yourselves. I wish I had pushed harder for the antibiotics that would have cleared up my cough before I broke my rib, and I certainly wish I had insisted on an x-ray so I could have known the cause of my pain sooner.

Just because student health services are inexpensive, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be good. We pay for health care with tuition, and that care should be high quality.

Stay healthy, take care of yourselves and don’t hesitate to get a second opinion.

Jessica Hilberman

December ’02 graduate