doctors

All posts tagged doctors

Still waiting…

Published October 12, 2018 by lynn k scott

Today makes two weeks since the hoop-jumping commenced.  I did as I was required; saw my PCP to get an oncology referral (even though my insurance knows I have cancer).

My PCP claims they called me to say the referral was approved and to call the oncologist.  That was pure fabrication.  I only found out, because I called a week after the appointment since I hadn’t heard anything.

This past Monday, I called the oncologist’s office and was told they hadn’t even reviewed the file yet.  They couldn’t tell me how long it would take for the doctor to review the file to see if she could even treat me.  She only reviewed files in between seeing patients.

Now my PCP was told I was having anemia symptoms, yet she didn’t flag the file with any urgency.  She put it through as a basic referral.  This is the problem with using a PCP for conditions they don’t treat.  If they are to facilitate care, then listening to the patient would be a good place to start.  If the patient deems the situation as an issue, then the doctor has an obligation to process that information accordingly; especially if they are symptomatic.

My energy levels are falling.  Day to day life is becoming more and more challenging (again).  Yet, I sit and wait because the medical profession has no sense of urgency.  I’ve upped my caffeine intake and back to taking naps the second I get home from work.

When will doctors get a clue they are messing with people’s health by their lack of concern.  They aren’t battling a life-threatening disease.  They aren’t waiting in limbo to see if the cancer has spread or new cancer has emerged.  They have all the time in the world (at this point).

Yet, I and so many like me, are dependent on a broken system that doesn’t value life.  This is our reality.  We struggle, we worry, we pray and we just wait.

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Sutter Health Insurance

Published June 19, 2018 by lynn k scott

I am not an easy patient.  I have little regard for the insurance industry and the doctors it employs.  I have become less than tolerant of the medical world since my cancer diagnosis.

Sutter Health Plus is the health insurance I have.  It’s the least evil of the three options I had to choose from.  That being said, they are far from acceptable.  They care little for their patients.

On Sutter’s website, it boasts how important it is to have a doctor you feel comfortable with.  That is a fallacy.  They don’t care how far you have to travel to see a doctor.  They don’t care if you don’t want to be seen in a certain area.  They don’t care that you can’t understand who they pick for you; even after declining their physician option (multiple times).  They prefer to hire immigrant doctors compared to native-English speaking doctors.  Where medical terminology is a factor, being able to understand your physician is paramount.  Apparently, that only applies if you want to see anyone but an native-English speaking doctor.  They hire for every other language, but English is overrated.  How “PC” of them….I digress.

You can make complaint after complaint about not receiving care, but NO ONE calls you for more information.  Non-doctors simply review your file and regurgitate their initial form letter and continually resend that information to you.

They can get you an appointment in the doctor of their choice, where you don’t want to go and ignore the fact you may have employment obligations to meet.  Did I mention they will give you an appointment out of your area and when you’re not available?

Providers are allowed to drop patients prior to making sure an acceptable referral has been found.  They fail to notify the patients of the change in providers.  Nurses refuse to let you speak to providers.  The online emails are answered by nurses and not doctors.  You get the privilege of playing the adult version of “telephone”.  You never know what their response is going to be, but it rarely is regarding the original issue you are inquiring about.

They claim physicians are required to tell you that they are kicking you out of their practice.  Well, I guess finding out, via another form letter, on a different subject is their view of “notification”.

Do I hang up on them…sure do!  I say what needs saying.  They ignore what I say but mark the notes that “contact was made and patient hung up”.  They fail to mention patient stated their option wasn’t viable.  Patient can’t understand who they assign, but as long as they cover their ass with a half-assed note, I guess they did their job, right?

This is how Sutter Health Plus treats cancer patients.  Western Health Insurance does the same.  They are such a small insurance company, they allow doctors to kick patients out, after ignoring patient concerns.

Keep telling the patient they have an ulcer.  Get irritated with patient because she refuses a G.I. referral.  Blame patient for “refusing care”.  Patient goes to the emergency room, where they have to treat her.  Low and behold, patient was right – it WASN’T an ulcer.  It was a Stage 3 tumor, blocking almost 100% of the colon.  Patient could have died, but hell, as long as the insurance companies continue to make sure they are “PC”, health care of individuals be damned.

I am sure there must be some diligent doctors somewhere, but the insurance carriers, call center staff (because you can no longer call a doctor’s office directly) and their nurses hinder receiving effective and timely treatment.

I will no longer be silent.  The insurance industry needs to change; esp. when it’s an HMO.  Patients are required to jump through hoops to “establish” with providers and to obtain referrals, but the doctors are not required to treat them.

Enough is enough.  Please share.  Silence is compliance!

Cancer Updates continue….

Published May 29, 2018 by lynn k scott

About a month ago, I picked up a part-time job waiting tables on the weekends.  I work a day job, Monday through Friday and then started waiting tables; working seven days a week.

I admit, I don’t eat the best on the weekends, with having to be to work at 7 and off around 3:30.  Sure, I could eat on my break, but 1) I don’t want to waste the money to buy the food I serve and 2) it’s not really gluten-free and I don’t want to risk having a reaction with a packed cafe.

After I got off work on Sunday, I was very dizzy.  It continued to get worse.  I tried sleeping it off and was barely able to get out of bed.  This continued into Monday, which I thankfully had off.  I had to hold my daughter’s hand for stability, just to walk when we went out of the house.

My husband and I debated if I should go to the hospital.  I know it’s related to extremely low iron levels.  My anemia is taking forever to get under control and I am not ready to admit I need an IV transfusion.  In part, because my veins roll and collapse and IVs (or even blood draws) are extremely challenging.  Let’s not mention, how I despise doctors and hospitals and my oncologist and I are still aren’t speaking.

I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to drive to work this morning.  It was really bad and scary yesterday.  I reluctantly emailed my part-time job, explained the situation and stated as an ADA accommodation, I can only work Saturdays now.  I will use Sunday as a day of rest.  Even though chemo is completed, my body isn’t as healed as I had hoped.  I will be picking up more iron pills, as I cannot skip taking them or I will end up back in the hospital.

The silver lining is I will be able to return to attending church on a regular basis.  I have missed that.  It’s important to have fellowship on a consistent basis.

 

 

Cancer Journey: Part 10

Published March 16, 2018 by lynn k scott

It’s been a bit since my last update.  Life’s been challenging.  I thought I had a handle on things and I really don’t.  I should resign myself to Murphy’s Law and that my house is its headquarters.

Overall, exhaustion has been my new BFF.  Every weekend, I am taking extra naps just to stay functional.  I had another drawn out insurance/specialty pharmacy/doctor’s office issue.  Someone, which no one will own up to, put a notation for pre-authorization on an existing prescription (with one refill left).  This meant, I had to wait for all the different parties to do their job.  After much yelling, crying, sarcasm and general disdain, the issue has finally been resolved.  I had to constant follow-ups for anyone to do their job.  We’re not talking aspirin here, folks.  It’s chemo-medication that costs a small fortune.  You would think those in the medical field would have some compassion and a sense of urgency.  Please don’t hold your breath on that; you’ll end up dead waiting for that to happen.

I have come to the conclusion that once I receive my meds, I will be asking for a referral to a new oncologist.  It’s clear this current office isn’t working out.  I’m sure everyone there will have a small celebration to see me leave.   If you advocate for yourself, it seems you are not the correct type of patient for many of today’s doctors.

It’s sad there are more doctors who care less about working with informed patients, who are in charge in making decisions about their care.  They shouldn’t be made to feel bad about their decisions.  Have snide comments thrown at them, such as “well, you chose not to do IV chemo”.  You’re right, I chose to live my life, not be dependent on everyone, continue working, supporting my family and raising my daughter.  It’s funny, they know how expensive medication and treatment costs, but they chastise you for not giving up your job, going on disability (which doesn’t support much) and losing quality of life.  That’s what going on IV chemo would have done for me.

I working on simplifying areas of my life.  It’s definitely a work in progress.  I know the value of time, family and friends.  Right now, I’m in limbo as to if treatment is working, if I will need more, if I will find out it’s spread.  There are lots of things one can think about while being in such a limbo.  I try to focus on today and accomplish what I can.  Making memories is a top priority, should something change; not for the better.

Either way, ups and downs continue.  It’s a daily battle that I still plan on winning.  I appreciate all who have said prayers, made donations for my care, or can relate to this ongoing struggle.

 

My Chemo Fundraiser

Cancer Journey – Part 4

Published December 1, 2017 by lynn k scott

This is the second week of the second chemo cycle.  I would say it was almost uneventful; well, up until last night.

I realized I had way too much medication left in one of the bottles.  I realized I hadn’t been taking enough.  Part of that is my error; part is on the doctor and pharmacy for how it was written.  It was written to where the dosage could be take 4 pills daily.  The reality is I was supposed to take 4 pills in the morning and 4 in the evening.  Add in, this new idea of putting all the dosages on the same label, only adds to the confusion.

I will get three and a half days of the correct dosage.  In addition to the poor writing of the prescription, it the oncologist is to blame for refusing to cover the actual dosage with me.  It really goes back to the on-going poor communication.

As I was discharged for the Cancer Center’s care, for lack of communication, I was going on my own these two weeks, with no medical supervision.  It’s proven not to be an issue where the medicine is concerned.

Currently, I’m still not having horrible side effects, which would require a medical professional’s intervention.  Thank heaven for small miracles.  Without having a doctor to consult, my only option would have been to go to the local emergency room.

It’s a sad day when such a serious medical issue is handled so carelessly.  Today, I’m officially registered with a new carrier and provider.  I meet my new Primary doctor next week.  I hope she can get the emergency oncology referral taken care of and I hope I can get my medication next week as well.

I put this as a status (on Facebook) yesterday.  I wish more doctors understood this concept.

If more doctors would realize there are patients in tune with their health and we use them as guidance and not God, healthcare could actually be about care and not maintaining someone.

Continued prayers would be appreciated as this battle is so up-in-the-air.

Cancer Journey: Part 3

Published November 20, 2017 by lynn k scott

The second cycle, of six, started today.  One cycle down?  Not really…and here’s why…

The doctor’s office never discussed the actual dosage that would be mailed to me.  Seeing as these are chemo pills, you can only get them from a specialty pharmacy, via couriered delivery.  The last pharmacy only sent one of two bottles; and the lower dosage of the two.

Then, I find out, my doctor’s office failed to verify which specialty pharmacy the insurance used.  This makes a difference because using the incorrect pharmacy could make the patient fully responsible for paying for otherwise covered medication.  Finally, the correct specialty pharmacy was able to send all the correct medication.

Moving on…I get my blood draw and then see the doctor the next day (like I’m supposed to).  The nurse walks up to me with someone else.  The first person continues on and I see someone standing near me, but not saying anything.  I am playing a game on my phone, passing the time until I am called.  Several minutes pass and she said, “whenever you are ready”.  Wow!  This office really has communication issues.  That being said, my patience for dealing with them was ‘running on fumes’.

I had convinced myself to just get through the appointment.  I could do it!

The office and its occupants had other ideas.  The nurse directed me into a room, never took vitals, told me to take a seat and the doctor came in.  They wanted to “talk”.  The conversation that took place was an already decided upon course of action under the guise of a mutually beneficial conversation.  You know, like when you’re boyfriend or girlfriend says they want to talk and then tells you it might be best if you both saw other people.  Wait!  Did you get the license plate of the bus that just ran over me?  Starting to get the picture of how this office operates?

Basically, I was supposed to sign a document regarding my treatment and they were going to continue letting me receive treatment.  Hmmm…..I already pay insurance premiums for that “right”.  I signed their document and added, “signed under duress”. This didn’t sit well with them.  My stating I was forced to sign their document, which is a prime example of duress, gave them just another reason to say they weren’t going to treat me.

I knew vitals are required after every cycle.  They made no attempt to take them.  They knew I had my next dose of medication.  They knew I mentioned working on getting into a another practice instead of dealing with them.  I don’t trust doctors to begin with and this office was a cancer to my treatment.  Yea….it was that detrimental.

Am I a difficult patient?  Yup!  Do I deserve to have the doctors and their staff treat me with professionalism?  Yup!  Do I deserve to receive clear communication so I can give informed consent for my treatment.  ABSOLUTELY!!!!

However, there is no law from preventing medical doctors from withholding treatment from a patient; even with a potential life-threatening disease.  They don’t need permission, a hearing to remove the patient, or even assist in transferring them to another provider.

What if there isn’t another provider in the area?  Oh well, that’s the patient’s issue; not theirs.  When a practice discharges a patient, as they just had, they won’t take your calls and tell you to go to the Emergency Room if any issues arise.

After all of that, perhaps it was a blessing.  Don’t get me wrong.  I uttered several choice words, shed a few tears, said some prayers and moved on.  I’m getting set-up with a new  provider, within a new network.  I’ve had some friends (online and at church) offer support.

I’ve already got an appointment with a new primary physician, so I can get an emergency oncology referral.  Hoping she can order the necessary blood work, get the next dose of chemo ordered and I can follow-up with my new oncologist.

The situation is less than ideal.  I was on the fence about switching to another carrier/provider.  Perhaps being kicked out of a less-than-healthy medical practice was what was needed.  The group I am switching to has a very good reputation for their oncology department.  Who knows….maybe they will even offer some cancer support groups that weren’t available with my other provider.

Treatment has its ups and downs.  This past week has been such an emotional roller coaster.  I’m looking forward to moving on and getting better.

 

Cancer Journey: Part 1

Published October 20, 2017 by lynn k scott

I am the first to admit that I am not the ideal patient.  Heck, I’m a barely tolerable patient.  Regardless of my good/bad patient status, effective communication between the doctors/staff and the patient is top priority.  It’s the foundation of a trustful, working relationship between the two.

I admit, I’m extremely direct.  I become irritated very quickly when I have stated expectations and they are either ignored or downplayed.  Add in ill-mannered office staff and a stressful situation turns downright ugly.

Now, we are talking about a cancer center.  A place where emotions run high; especially after patients go and they have been newly diagnosed.  You would think a medical assistant, walking into the waiting room, would have the faintest inkling you don’t try to get the patient’s attention by saying, “hey”.

Sorry, I don’t answer to that.

I was playing a game on my phone when the first “hey” was said.  My husband happened to look up, but didn’t say anything.  As I was non-responsive, this person thought saying, “HEY!” was the next course of action.  This time I did look up.  She stated the doctor’s name and that I needed to come with her.

STRIKE 1

We walk into the room, where she informs me she will take my vitals.  Hmmm….last I knew, I had the right to consent to any and all treatment; even vitals.  Based on this poor medical assistant’s communication skills in the lobby and now telling me what she will be doing; I think not.

My New York personality emerged to take center stage.  I told her she would not be taking vitals.  She thought putting her hand on her hip, telling me she needed those vitals and whatever blah blah blah she uttered after (I stopped listening) only reinforced my stubborn nature and I promptly dismissed her.

STRIKE 2

She didn’t take kindly to that.  Arguing with me wasn’t going to work.  If nothing, I’m a stubborn, Irish New Yorker and I’m pictured in the dictionary next to “Stubborn” (ok not really, but I should be).  I still have the right to say no and apparently, she wasn’t taught that patients give consent.  I have a personal issue with being told what I will and won’t do by people who are not in charge.  I didn’t deem vitals necessary for a consultation appointment.  Not to mention, tell me you are taking vitals instead of asking if it’s ok to vitals will get them declined EVERY TIME!

The medical assistant walks through another office door where she proceeds to loudly complain about me.  Well, my first oncology visit is off to a great start.  I’m TICKED off and an unsuspecting doctor is going to walk through the door and he and I will be having words about his medical assistant.

Needless to say, the appointment did not go well.  He kept pushing IV chemotherapy when the benefits are barely above oral chemotherapy and have a lot more side effects.  I don’t know how many times I told him no to IV chemo, but it was obvious that was his preferred method of treatment.  I actually had to tell him not to mention it again.

My husband and I left the appointment and went to a bar.  Wishful thinking the alcohol would kill the cancer.  Oh well, the drink was needed and went down smooth.

Now, after more poor communication with the oncology office, we can’t find a location where I can get a blood draw to take a bunch of poison that will or won’t cure this cancer.  Apparently, the medical profession thinks everyone sits home all day and no one works.  They must think that because no blood draws after 4:00 p.m.

Now I could go to the cancer center.  However, their poor treatment of me and lack of communication skills raises my anxiety 10-fold.  I don’t even want to go there for the necessary appointments.

The situation is so bad, I’m looking at driving 20 minutes out of my way, and maybe incurring bridge toll, in order to go to a better facility because I’m not receiving proper care where I am.

My positive mood about getting through this has changed into being angry about having cancer.  I don’t want to see doctors, nurses and anyone associated with the medical profession.  I hate the cancer center.  It just reminds me of the family I lost.  It reminds me how this disease has made strong people weak before it took their lives.

Needless to say, my mood is less an amicable at the moment.  I deactivated my Facebook account because I am having trouble just interacting with online friends.  I will probably reactivate it again, but saying that I’m overwhelmed is an understatement.

 

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