So sorry about this experience! But I would echo what everyone says--we have had two good experiences with our kiddo at the Kaiser ER in Oakland. The waiting room was calm, the wait was not long, and everyone seems to be organized and know what's going on. It's also inside, no tents. It's funny because I otherwise hate going to Kaiser in Oakland as opposed to Berkeley or Pinole, but I think their ER is the best. Actually way better than experiences I've had with non-Kaiser ERs in the past.
My 6yo daughter broke her arm this summer and we went to the Oakland Kaiser ER. Her arm bone was visibly broken and there was a small wound where the bone had pushed through the skin in the fall. We saw the triage person almost immediately and he offered her a sling and said that he would try to make sure she got seen as soon as possible. We waited in the waiting room for about 20 minutes, after which I asked the triage person if they could give her anything for pain, even over the counter stuff. He said they can't, it has to be prescribed by a doctor. He did manage to get us into a room about 15 minutes after that though (so waiting outside for 45 minutes) while my daughter was hugging her arm and going in and out of crying inconsolably with moments of gritting her teeth and just getting through it. Once we got into a room, it was at least another half hour before she was offered Tylenol, so overall, from the fall to pain medication, my daughter had to wait about 2 hours. Once she was seen by a doctor though, they offered her morphine, but as the Tylenol seemed to take the worst of the pain away, we rejected it. Over the time we were there, we asked for pain medication to be given several times before it was, and kept getting the same answer about a doctor having to see the patient first, which was really excruciating for us. My daughter ended up needing to go under general anesthetic for wound cleaning later though so I guess they also just don't know what the next steps are going to be, so are hesitant to give anything without a consultation with the doctor. I'm still not sure how I feel about the whole thing, but overall, I'm grateful for the care she got, and she healed really well. If something like this happens again, I might just give my kid some Tylenol en route to the hospital and let the doctors know what we administered. I'm sorry you had to go through this with your son and I hope he's healing well, and that you're recovering from this traumatic situation as well.
I agree 100% with Anonymous - we've had to go to the ER several times in the past 2 years and Oakland is by far the most efficient local Kaiser.
Also agree about the pain med hesitancy and being a squeaky wheel - like anything else with Kaiser you need to be your own best advocate, even in the ER.
All that said, I'm sorry it happened to your son, and hope he's healing well. If it's any consolation, we self-pay way more than double your costs for a family of four. Since you are paying so much take full advantage of all the programs and services they have to offer, some of which (like health education) have been great.
I'm sorry, this sounds like a bad experience for your poor son. I also have Kaiser and we go to the ER at Oakland. It is more staffed, and seems to better handle the larger volume of patients. So that's lesson #1 for you. Lesson #2 is feel free to offer pain relief at home ASAP for any situation where your child is in pain if you feel it's warranted. There is a LOT more hesitancy around pain medication in hospitals in the past 10 years regardless of patient age, in my experience. I believe this is due to misuse of pain relief meds (although obviously there's not a black market for advil, yet!). I can't say if it's common to get codeine in this situation (having not been in this exact situation) but I would be surprised if it were presented as a choice. Lesson #3 is something I struggle with myself, but it's essentially to be a LOUD voice in this situation and assume you have to advocate for everything (start shouting for pain relief the second you were checked in, for example). Again, none of this is your fault (or even Kaiser's, we weren't there), but lessons I would take away for next time.