Nothing defeats you more than illness. Nothing, except for the accompanying insurmountable medical system red tape. (I’m loath to call it “Canadian” system because we have different provincial systems throughout the country and I dearly hope things are better someplace else.)
The more modern you’re work and life environment are, the higher you will fall from into the abyss of the medical system. Well, the patient medical system that is. There is clearly a divide between the medical personnel and the patients.
If you’re a patient at the University Clinic I am registered to, you can only contact your Nurse Practitioner (NP) or doctor by making a phone call. It will be answered by someone on a rotation system. You will then need to provide that person with a summary of your information that he/she will then forward it through an instant messenger system to the recipient. Then it suits them, the doctor or NP will provide information back, and the receptionist will call you to forward it to you. Talk about efficient (not).
When it comes to test results, some of the medical personnel (dare I say the younger cohort) will be OK sending you the results by email as my NP does. However, I hadn’t seen my doctor in a while and didn’t remember if she did too so I called the clinic: “Can you tell me if she or her nurse send out emails when tests come back normal?” Answer: “you have to talk to her nurse, we’ll ask her to call you back”. 37 hours later she calls me back telling me:
– “You have to make an appointment with her or go to the walk in clinic.”
– “Can you make that appointment?”
– “No, I can’t. You have to call the general number.”
– “When is she working at the walk in clinic”
– “I don’t know, we don’t even work in the same building
I call the general number. The next appointment with the doctor is 6 weeks away. I tell them why I need it and they say: “we’ll put you on a cancellation list, but you can also go to the walk in clinic or make an appointment with an NP”. At this point you may think, “that means there are no issues with your tests, just forget it.” Except I’m still sick and I need answers and to move to the next stage (whatever that is) pronto.
After a week and a half I give up on the “earlier doctor appointment” and make an appointment with the NP. She can’t explain the results of one of my blood tests, because they can only be ordered by a doctor. She does tell me the doctor referred me for an echocardiogram which is a surprise to me. She tells me to call the Cardiovascular Centre to see where it’s at. [I have already blown my cell call minutes since whenever I call the clinic’s general number, I waste a minimum of 15 minutes.] I called. The appointment requested at the end of October is January 3.
When I see my doctor again, I ask if she can send a note to have them move my appointment sooner and she agrees. After waiting three additional weeks, I call again the Cardiovascular Centre again. They see an available slot, but their system is having major issues so she tells me to call back in a few days. I call back in a few days the lady answering is less than agreeable:
– “The message from your doctor says it should be “within weeks and the request was made November 29”.
[I don’t know why it took 10 working days for the doctor’s note to make it to the Centre, but I know January 3 is more than mere weeks away so I add:
– “But the original request was made October 19.”
– “We received it October 26.”
– “I can give you December 20 at 9:15 am.”
And I then thank her as if she’d given me $500.
I’m back from the clinic again today. The 4th time in 7 days. I had gotten a phone message from my doctor’s office. I called back and the woman on the phone read my file and told me that the doctor had filled my insurance form and that I could go in and sign it.
So I went. And… they were unable to locate the nurse who had called me and the form. They did however surprise me by saying they needed a $40 fee for the doctor to have filled the form. A piece of information they had cleverly omitted to tell me when I called to make an appointment, when I showed up in person to ask if I could have an earlier appointment, when I saw the doctor, and when they had me pay $20 for a medical certificate she had filled, or when I returned the nurse’s call an hour earlier.
This is just a few examples of the medical red tape from hell. Can you give us another you ask?
This one is more about erroneous information, bad training, inefficient rules, or a combination of all three.
I’ve been scheduled for my first biopsy (an easy needle aspiration one to be performed by my doctor). I’ve never had this procedure so I’m a tad worried. I call the general number (from hell) of the University Clinic where my GP practices to make sure my latest blood test results are forwarded to the specialist. [For some reason, this is not done automatically as my Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist works in private practice and, of course, they don’t share the same system.]
– “We can’t simply forward them to her, we have to get your written authorization”
– (Knowing it’s useless to ask, yet…) “Can I authorize it by email?”
– “No. You can come to the clinic and fill in a form. It takes about a week for a release.”
– “My biopsy is in 3 days”
– “You can go to the walk in clinic and leave with a copy of them you can give your doctor, or come to the clinic, fill the form and then call person X in records to see if she can release them earlier.” [Through the general number, no doubt.]
Thankfully, I had paid for a yearly subscription to the private lab I went to for my tests (they pretty much have a monopoly in my city) and they told me I could generate a report from my blood test results and send it to whomever I wanted to.
During the biopsy appointment, I found out the ENT also had a subscription to the private lab company and she could see them without any transfer on my part.
I show up at one of the eight (8) registration desks of a hospital for my biopsy appointment and they couldn’t find my appointment in the system. How much does bureaucracy affect the brain of poor health employees who are just trying to do their job as best as possible? They told me: “are you sure you haven’t had the biopsy already and this is just a follow up appointment?” Now I know I just wrote a post about being overmedicated but how many drugs do you need to be on to forget you’ve had a BIOPSY?
One last “fun” anecdote. Last winter I had a bad throat ache that lasted more than a week so I dragged myself to the walk in clinic. I didn’t have to wait too long, which was great, but… instead of writing a prescription for a special mouth wash (I thought I had thrush from my asthma meds, he thought I had a cold), the NP wrote instead a prescription for a vaginal cream. My millennial pharmacist realizes this and tries to reach the University Clinic to ask them to change the prescription. I could see him choke on the words: “you want me to send you a FAX?!!”.
I followed up with him in person and with the clinic by phone for 2 weeks, until I finally got better, sans mouthwash. [By better I mean no longer having a throat ache, it moved to my ears, my sinuses, my lungs and back again, ergo another trip to the doctor.]
6 weeks later, an annoyed pharmacist called me at home to ask “when are you going to pick that mouthwash up?” Turned out that instead of sending the new prescription to the pharmacy that had asked for a prescription change, they sent it to one I hadn’t used in 5 years.
Next post, I promise, will be more up-beat. Maybe beauty products, or books, or medical lessons learned.