Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Patient's Bill of Wrongs: Repetition, repetition, repetition...

Warning: Rant follows. The payoff is a good cocktail recipe.

My first major surgery of 2006 (not counting the 3 root canals) was in August, at Rose Medical Center. I had to fill out a detailed questionnaire for the orthopedic surgeon, even though I'd given all that information when I'd first gone to see him: name, address, phone #, SS#, medical insurance info, medical history with my height & weight, drug & food allergies, past illnesses & surgeries, list of meds & supplements I'm taking, family medical history, etc. It was all the more fun because I had to do it left-handed. Then the hospital admissions office called and asked me for the same information. The night before surgery, the anesthesiologist called and asked me many of the same questions yet again.

The next major surgery was in November, at Lowry Surgical Center with a different orthopedic surgeon. I had to fill out another questionnaire with name, address, etc., medical history, height & weight, allergies, etc., etc. Again more fun because I was still writing left-handed. Again the same drill with admissions and anesthesiologist.

In October 2007, after another root canal, I had a nose & sinus job by a doctor whose offices are in the Rose Medical Center. The procedure was to be done in the Rose Surgery Center, located across the street in the Rose Founders Building, where surgeon #1 hangs his shingle. This time I was asked to fill out the personal info & medical history, etc., online. Progress! But why couldn't they get the information from Rose Medical Center? "Oh, that's a different corporation." Never mind that it shares the same name and facilities. The afternoon before surgery, the anesthesiologist phoned and asked me for the same information. Why couldn't s/he (I forget which) get it online? "Oh, we don't have access to that till the day of surgery." Why don't you ask to get it the day before so you could save yourself and your patients some time? "That's a complicated process." ARGH.

This past Friday morning, I went to my MD for a pre-op physical. I filled out a questionnaire (right-handed, happily) with--you guessed it!--name, address, phone #, medical insurance info, medical history, blah, blah, blah. The MD faxed everything to the surgeon's office. A few hours later, a nurse at the Presbyterian-St. Luke's admissions office called and I spent 45 MINUTES giving her the exact same information that I'd written down that morning. Why couldn't the hospital get the forms faxed from the surgeon's office? "Oh, they don't share that information with us." Why not? "They just don't."

Then an hour or so ago, when I was enjoying a last two-armed cuddle with Darling Husband, the anesthesiologist called. Could I give him some medical information?

"Look," I said, "I don't mean to be difficult, but I did this with the hospital admissions office and surgeon on Friday. I'm getting tired of repeating the same things over and over. Why don't you get my information from them? They have everything you need to know."

"They don't share that information," he responded mechanically. (Maybe he'd said this before?) "Well, they should," I replied heatedly.

Then I drew a deep breath and told him my height, weight, drug allergies, surgical history, what meds I'm taking, blah, blah, blah. He told me that between midnight and 5:00 a.m. I could have a few sips of clear liquid, such as water, apple juice or black coffee. "Blech," I said to the last. Who'd want to have black coffee in the middle of the night on a nervous, empty stomach? I told him that I planned on being asleep between midnight and 5:00 a.m. The good news is that I may take a Valium to ensure that sleep.

But first...TEQUILA!

Here's a cocktail I invented last night, in the absence of margarita mix. Over ice, pour:
    1 shot tequila
    1/2 shot Cointreau
    1 can Limonata San Pellegrino
    Squeeze in 1/4 lime
Sip & pucker up--after reciting any detailed information. Then settle down in the living room to watch Fred & Ginger dance all your cares away.


Sustenance Scout said...

Now I'm convinced you simply don't need much sleep, Bella! Stopped by to catch up and can't seem to stop reading all your recent posts. Good luck once again with today's surgery. And p.s. I'm jealous you got to meet Patry, one of my all-time favorite bloggers. Can't wait for her to have a signing at TCover some day. K.

Eileen said...

Recover quickly. Then come over and lets make up a pitcher of these drinks. They sound great.

Anonymous said...

Bella, good luck with this one! I'll be thinking of you.

Spoke to Patry today, she's doing splendidly.


Kim Stagliano said...

It's hard to fathom how technologically backward doctors and hospitals are - and I think they hide under the guise of "privacy." Sorry you had to go through this. Our medical joy this year (beside three kids with autism who receive no treatment or services through insurance)is that our family deductible went from $900 a year to $6000. Yes, $6000 deductible. The company is trying to spin it that after the deductible 100% is covered. How many families will forego smaller procedures for lack of the $6,000? Someone ought to write about it... But not Kucinich, please!

Good luck in your continued recovery, Bella.

nynynyny said...

HA! Wait til the bills come in. From people you've never met and for services you never asked for! My own leg story is at http://waterandwaves.blogspot.com

You might think that everything done in that hospital (except your own doctors) would be on the same bill! FEH!! That's how they rip off Medicare!

(we previously corresponded about your piece on Thorne Smith and how he lived in this so-called "utopian" community (http://www.freeacres.org)


Bella Stander said...

This was my 6th surgery in 18 months, after a week-long stay in a hospital multi-trauma unit. So I know all about hospital bills, and doctor bills, and endodondist bills, and anesthesiologist bills, and physical therapy bills, and Xray/MRI/CT scan bills, and bloodwork bills.

Since I was semi-conscious with eyes bloodied shut for the first portion of that hospital stay, and addled with a concussion and painkillers for the rest of it, there are plenty of medical personnel of whom I have zero memory.

Our "gold-plated insurance policy" (quoting George W. Bush) with Blue Cross/Shield has been an unending tangle of red tape, obfuscation and delays.

I'm too young for Medicare, but can hardly wait for the joys (read: headaches) it will bring.

I long for European or Canadian-style health care. I'm sure the extra taxes we'd have to pay would still come to less than the tens of thousands of dollars we've shelled out on premiums, deductibles and uncovered expenses in the past two years.