Monday, March 31, 2008

Aggravated by the doctors' Praetorian Guard

I have a doctor's appointment in a little while.

It was supposed to be at 8:30 this morning, and I set it at that time so that I could go from there to the office and not miss much of my day.

But, on Friday, the doctor's office called -- the doctor with whom I had made the appointment would not be in after all. I could see his partner... at 11:00 a.m.

There goes Monday! (And I've brought work with me to do; it won't be a total waste.)

But that's not the most aggravating part of this.

The reason for this appointment is entirely, completely unnecessary.

Last year, when I had my surgery, it was explained that I would have to have a follow-up in a year's time. I haven't nearly as much plumbing to explore as heretofore, so the testing would be relatively easy. All I had to do, the doctor said, was call the office and schedule the appointment.

Key words in the preceding sentence are "the doctor said."

Because, in America today, doctors do not appear to know beans about their office procedures. They do not control their schedules. They are guided by their staffs from room to room: Heal here, heal there, counsel here, surgery!

I called the doctor's office as the one year anniversary of my diagnosis approached. I called to schedule the procedure that I was told I'd need.

And I was not permitted to schedule it.

The doctors' Praetorian Guard requires me to see the doctor first, before any scheduling of a further procedure. Why, I can not fathom. It is on my chart; it is on their computers. But some iron-clad procedure would apparently be violated were I to do what the doctor said I was supposed to do.

So I'll ask him why I am required to see him for 60 seconds in the middle of the day just so I can schedule the appointment for the procedure we both know I need to have.

And it won't make any difference what he says... because he doesn't really know.

This, by the way, is an excellent group of doctors -- the best at what they do in the area. (This is not just my personal testimony, it is the consensus of medical opinion -- I researched this). And I have the best possible health insurance -- a Blue Cross PPO.

But -- don't worry -- once we have Universal Health, we won't have any problems like this....


Update 1:16 p.m.

It took a little over two and a quarter hours to get to, from, and wait for an appointment which took a little over two and a quarter minutes. The doctor was apologetic -- but more for suggesting in the first place that I might be permitted to make an appointment on my own for a test that we both agreed I should have -- and which will be a little more than two and a quarter months overdue when the test is finally performed. It is... frustrating.


Shelby said...

" . . . in America today, doctors do not appear to know beans about their office procedures."

That is so true. Truer, perhaps - than the arctic ice cap melt.

Ok, definitely truer.

Maybe one of the presidential nominees needs to run on this platform - the promise to fix scheduling issues in doctor's offices.

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

i am cynical enough to believe it is to squeeze out an extra office visit to the billing department. medicine is big business.

smiles, bee

Shelby said...

ok, you've almost had enough time to wait in the lobby and then see a doc..let us know the verdict.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Doctors love to shuffle people around like cards.

Shelby said...

well, at least you can now check this one of your list of to do's.

Jeni said...

Ah. my yes. I do know what you mean as I had a sort of similar thing today too. About two weeks ago, I had to go see a surgeon, for an appointment that was actually a referral of the third degree I guess it could be said.
Back in January, I had to see the oncologist for a routine check-up and he wanted a "routine" CAT scan and blood work. Ok, after the results came back to him about the CAT scan, his office called and I had to go back in to see him. The reason -the CAT scan had revealed I have a hernia around the stoma from my colostomy. He referred me back to my family doctor. Appointment made to see her and she checked things out and referred me to the surgeon.
I saw the surgeon; he reviewed my medical history, examined me and said he would have to study my records, review the CAT scan from January and compare it to the CAT Scan done about 16 months earlier -before the colostomy and then he would call and let me know what his plans were.
His nurse called last week and set up the appointment for today for him to tell me what route he felt was best -hernia repair surgery or reversal of the colostomy -or perhaps nothing right now.
He talked to me and gave me his opinion and then, he referred me back to the surgeon in Pittsburgh who had performed the colostomy in October of 2006. I was sooo very much hoping to avoid having to make a 3 1/2 hour drive to Pittsburgh -one way -to also have to run around to the hospital, to my family doctor, to the internal medicine doctor who treated me after the colostomy for about 3 months -to gather up records from them to take with me to Pittsburgh, just to have that surgeon then most likely agree with the surgeon here that it probably would be best to have the colostomy reversed, then send me back home, wait upteen weeks till UPMC can schedule me in for the surgery. And, if that goes like it did prior to the colostomy, be prepared to change all plans several times too before the hospital in Pittsburgh finally gets a firm date penciled in that they hold to! What gets me is that at our local hospital here, they do colostomys there and they also do reversals there too. But apparently, only the surgeon who did the initial procedure can do the reversal I guess. Meanwhile, this disrupts not just my life but my kids lives too as one of them will have to reschedule their work hours to go with me for the re-examination appointment with the Pittsburgh surgeon and then again to take me down for the surgery and they will have to re-arrange their schedule a couple of times too if things run the way they did the last time with appointment changes every time you turn around - or so it seems to happen to me anyway. ARRRGH! And the appointment today? Well, he could just as easily have called me, saved me the time and gas from running in to have him tell me pretty much what I already figured he was going to tell me based on my initial appointment two weeks ago.

landgirl said...

It sounds as if on both sides of the pond medicine has become so full of rules and regulations and complications that it is in danger of falling in on itself.

TroyBoy said...

Well, good luck on the procedure!

Mother Jones RN said...

I agree with Bee. And I'm sure it also had something to do with your insurance company's regulations.

Good luck on your procedure.


Patti said...

You are certainly optimistic about Universal Health fixing this kind of thing.

It's all about big business for thedoctors and insurance companies as Bee and MJ said.