Friday, May 15, 2009

Who Is On First?

(subtitled) A Patient Looks at Medicine Today

Delicate Readers, there is no gore in the following message unless teeth gnashing is too much for you.

My ob/gyn, displeased with my white coat syndrome's high blood pressure, told me to go get a physical from my GP (general practitioner.) I duly present myself and after tests, he tells me he wants me to see a cardiologist and gives me a choice of two. "Let me think about it" and I depart. With help from my eye surgeon/good friend, I select one of the cardios.

I duly make an appointment. To my amazement, he's fat! We will now call him FC (Fat Cardiologist.) I gave him my test results and he was delighted to receive them. In fairness, the GP didn't know which I would choose and couldn't have forwarded the results.

FC decides I need a fasting blood test, an echocardiogram and a nuclear treadmill test. Dates are set for these.

During a follow-up visit to the GP, I mention all of the above. He asks me (!) for a copy of FC's results! Which FC should give him because the GP referred me. He goes further and tells me to ask for kidney function and potassium levels at the blood test.

Meanwhile, my ob/gyn's nurse-practitioner has been hammering me, "at the next blood test, ask for vitamin D levels." Some nonsense about bone density.

So I dutifully e-mail FC and tell him who wants what. Never hear back from him.

I go for the test this morning and the tech (a lovely lady) puts in the needle flawlessly. She's drawing blood and I'm telling her the additions. She frowns, bites her lip and says, "I need another tube for the vitamin D and I can't reach it -- and I've got the needle in ..." I grin, reach over and say, "I'll hold it." She looks a little dubious, but quickly wheels her chair back, grabs one and continues.

At the end of all of this, I apologize for any inconvenience, state further that I wasn't empowered to ask for any of them and why in hell didn't the doctors communicate their wishes to each other? She shrugged and said, slowly, "They don't seem to like to do that." In fact, she has to copy the other three with the results!

So I would advise you (if you're ever a patient and God forbid) to ask for a copy of all test results as a matter of course. Chances are, your primary physician would love to see them.

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