Why does it take forever for the doctor to get back to you about test results?
I mean, I do understand they are busy. Plus the holiday. But my tests were completed on 6/18 and 6/22.
That’s 18 days and 14 days. The turn around time on these tests are about 3 days. Even with the lag in posting test results online (to give the doctor enough time to review and call the patient), I’ve had the tests results for over a week now. I’ve also left three messages with both doctors who ordered these tests, so you can see my frustration.
And the tests are abnormal to boot. I understand that me being sick for years, on top of the fact that my life is becoming more and more limited, doesn’t matter in their day-to-day working life. I don’t expect it to. But how are you going to let abnormal tests results just sit there without calling? I’ve luckily educated myself to know enough about what they mean, I’m the queen of deciphering medical records and tests. It’s more of I just want to know what to do about them? I want consultations, I want second opinions, and I want additional testing.
What if I didn’t know what they meant or how to read the results? As a patient, undiagnosed and sick for so long (and only getting worse with time), I’d be freaking out and worrying this whole time. Honestly, I can’t even say it’s not causing me to stress at this point. It’s obviously not good practice and very frustrating to continue to wait for so long.
When do I call yet again? And do I leave another message? I’m not trying to be a pest, but this illness affects my entire life. My health and well-being. I’ve lost year after year of my life. It has hurt relationships with others, my career, my marriage, and my mental status. Most importantly, though, I have lost myself to this disease. Please, oh please, can there be just a little bit of urgency in finding a diagnosis?
On top of all this, I had to deal with the snotty receptionist at my primary care’s office, who gives me WRONG information over and over again, this time in regards to picking up my medication refills which I do every month under contractual agreement (since I am prescribed one controlled substance), although I guess I have no idea what I am talking about as I am just a mesely patient. Then she not-so-politely said I was out of luck anyways since my doctor is on vacation until the end of NEXT week, offering no solution other than to speak to a voicemail box which will get answered when my doctor is back. I wanted to say, “Thanks so much for your charming customer service and people skills. I’ve always been curious to know how much fun withdrawl from these medications was going to be, as I’ve never been through it before. I’m sure it’ll put my chronic illness into perspective. And who knows? Maybe I’ll get a fun trip to the ER out of it too! Lucky me….” Obviously I didn’t say that, but I did call back a while later and got one of the nurses who, thank god, knows how to do their job and was able to get the doctor filling in for my primary to refill my medications. They told me to pick up this afternoon. Great…. Until I show up and it’s not ready. Maybe tomorrow? Well, I guess that is better than the end of next week.
Then I got to fight with the hospital that did my CTA (one of the tests they still haven’t called me on) on a $700 bill for my testing. I had to explain why a community organization is NOT, despite what they think, billable health insurance and that they need to make the claim through my actual health insurance company if they want to receive payment. However, what’s even crazier is the fact that SOMEHOW this community organization paid over $7,500 to my CTA, which makes no sense and I am pretty sure the hospital messed up my bill all around. I ever-so-politely reminded them that a check would not be coming from me in the mail as I had paid my co-pay already.
So add in the fact that I was working on my disability forms today, so I really started to get annoyed with the whole medical system. Which, of course, led to me thinking about all the frustrations I’ve encountered in my search for a diagnosis. So here’s the list of my healthcare related pet peeves.
My Medical Pet Peeves:
1. Telling me it’s all in my head.
It’s not in my head.
Unless, of course, I have a tumor or lesion on my brain. Do an MRI and find out.
I didn’t make this up.
I don’t enjoy being sick or going to the doctor every week. I especially hate being poked, prodded, and experimented on. I’m pretty sure my body is radioactive at this point.
I’m not drug seeking.
I just want to feel better. And half the time, I can’t tolerate what medications you think I am after anyway. I don’t want drugs, I want a diagnosis. And if I do need medications to help, then don’t look at me as weak. I work hard just to live as normal as a life as possible. Don’t judge me.
It isn’t caused by stress or anxiety or depression.
If any of those are true, they are a symptom of being sick for so long without answers. Not the other way around.
2. Waiting. And waiting. And waiting some more.
You wait to check in. You wait in the lobby. Then in the exam room. Then to get the paper work together, medications to be ordered, treatment plans, etc. Then you wait to check-out and schedule an appointment.
You wait for prescription refills. Tests results. Medical records. Referrals.
Months to even schedule an appointment. Years to get a diagnosis.
Wait. Wait. Wait.
And if you are five minutes late to an appointment, it’s considered a no-show and you have to reschedule. Really?
3. Any encounter with the front office staff (at most, not all, medical clinics).
Now I’m not talking about the nurses or medical assistants. I’m talking about the receptionists at the front desk.
How in the world, as a person in a customer service position, do you not get fired for treating your customers (patients) the way you do?
There’s no reason to get annoyed by my presence of just being there. I am always friendly and nice, whether in person or on the phone. There is no reason for the attitude.
Don’t be condescending to me either, I probably have more medical training and background than you.
Don’t be smug and say there’s nothing you can do. Don’t make things more difficult than they already are.
You are making your job harder than it has to be, and more miserable as well. By the way, you are not God. You are a receptionist. Stop it.
The only reason they can get away acting like this is because the healthcare system doesn’t see patients as paying customers. Doctors are machines. We must obey the doctor’s orders (even if they are wrong).
Smile once in a while. Be friendly. It goes a long way, especially to those who are chronically sick. Build relationships with these patients. I promise you’ll enjoy your job more and maybe learn something in the process.
4. Having to repeat my medical history or symptoms over and over again.
First with the receptionist when scheduling and at again at check-in. Then to the nurse. And finally the doctor. Even if you’ve been there multiple times.
Forget seeing a new doctor or specialist.
Or to friends, family, work, etc.
And then I am asked why that is all I ever talk about. Hmmm.
5. Calling insurance about anything.
This can also apply to some medical offices as well, including the hospitals.
By the time I get to option 5, I’ve forgotten what the options were. Guaranteed, none of them are exactly what I’m looking for anyways. I guess I’ll pick number 3 and hope it’s my lucky day.
And please don’t send me to a random voicemail, where no one will call me back. Or if they do, they say I have reached the wrong department and to try so-and-so.
6. I hate the rate your pain questions.
Which pain? I have many.
Do you mean right now? Or yesterday? The pain varies hour by hour, day to day.
With or without medicine?
Does a 10 mean I’m dead? Because I have been saving my 10 for that moment right before death.
This question is too hard to answer!
7. Doctors who assume because your labs are normal, that there’s nothing wrong with you or you are healthy.
Even when your symptoms or condition is obviously not normal.
This leads into #8.
8. Do an exam and document my symptoms.
I can’t tell you how many of my medical records report things as normal when they clearly are far from normal. For instance, on my last doctors visit my medical records states no skin abnormalities. I had a skin rash on my face and on arms, which I spoke with my doctor about. I also had one of the worst days for my livedo reticularis. Not to mention, she didn’t actually DO an exam that day, just paperwork. This practice REALLY irritates me because not only is it inaccurate, but it doesn’t help me if I see other doctors or need to file a claim of any kind. You’re lying in my records when you report doing an exam in which you did not complete, which is fraud.
9. Don’t blindly treat me and admit when you don’t know something.
I am not an experiment, I am a human being. Don’t leave me in limbo, trying every drug on the market to see “what helps”, because most of the time, it doesn’t. It only makes me feel worse.
And I don’t expect you to know everything, but I appreciate honesty. Admit that you don’t know or you’re not comfortable with treating or diagnosing something. I’ll have more respect for you as a doctor. Just give me a referral to someone who DOES know or research it for me.
10. Communicate with my other doctors. Or at least my primary care doctor.
It’s hard enough to keep track of every test, medication, diagnosis, and who has what records. The disconnect in care impacts not only my health but the time it takes to get a diagnosis.
I’ll do my best to help by being an organized and knowledgeable patient, but I need communication and continuation of care between all my providers.
At the very least don’t pass me back and forth between doctors when I need help and come to a consensus as to what my diagnosis is or isn’t.