My family doctor is kind of shitty at his job. When he can’t diagnose a problem he literally shrugs and says ‘the tests are normal’ and does nothing else. It took me three years to be diagnosed with a condition that he had shrugged off because he never did the right test. I had to find another doctor or I would have been dead by now.
Eventually, I ended up back in the shitty doctor’s care because the other doctor I went to nearly killed me with another kind of stupid. Even though she helped me get a diagnosis she wasn’t able to follow the advice of specialists. My shitty doctor shrugs off anything he doesn’t understand and that is bad but she didn’t have the focus to treat a known problem, which is worse. At least my shitty doctor treats the problem.
This is the sort of primary medical care that plagues the area where I live. Good doctors and specialists move away or are so busy they aren’t taking new patients.
The specialist that diagnosed me moved three hundred miles away. The one he sent me to moved to the other side of the continent. I was sent to a group of specialists. They lost all of the medical records the first two doctors had kept. That is a loss I can’t fathom. How the hell does a place that must rely upon medical records lose those records?
Do to that loss, I must try to dredge up my medical history from memory, which is not at all possible. While I was at my sickest, I couldn’t figure out a red light from a green light. I couldn’t take the right pills at the right time without written directions and I sure as hell don’t remember what tests were done, when they were done, what surgeries were done, when they were done, or what the doctors said about any given topic.
With our new system of computer oriented medical care my prescriptions have been transferred without anyone telling me. The wrong pharmacy was put in the computer. My name has been changed as well. My doctor’s receptionist is snarky and she can’t change the mistake she made in my name. She replaced a ‘D’ with an ‘S’ and doesn’t know how to fix it. That mistake has propagated to the pharmacies.
My point is, there are so many ways we can get poor medical treatment even before we end up in a hospital or have a biopsy that it’s amazing anyone gets medical help rather than medical harm. In all of that, there is one bright note.
The hospital in which I currently work realized their patients were harried, confused, and lost. They realized their doctors don’t always do the right thing, same for nurses, same for technologists. Given that, my workplace started a service that pairs a patient with a guide. The guide helps patients get to their appointments. They answer questions about treatments and makes sure the patient understands how to take care of their condition.
It is a service that is overdue and welcome. What I wouldn’t have given years ago to have help like that. Such a guide might have known how to find my medical records. He or she could have given me the discharge instructions the nurses failed to give me. That could have avoided a lot of pain. I would have been shown where testing rooms were and told what to expect and what the test was for. I would have been able to ask questions and get answers and feel safer.
A lot of patients need help understanding their care as well as their diagnosis. Many are confused and lost and afraid they will miss their appointment and have to pay the threatened fee for it out of pocket. I ended up on the wrong side of a city one time because of a poorly written map in a packet I had received from a specialist’s office. A patient guide would make sure that kind of mistake doesn’t happen.
It is my hope medical guides become the norm. Another positive note, my hospital is rarely a place that begins trends. It tends to follow them instead. So chances are, a lot of hospitals are starting to use this service.
If you need help, ask if a guide is available. The next time I need to be a patient I will certainly ask for one.