Taking A Second Shot At Charging You

, , , , , | Healthy | August 28, 2018

(I went to a doctor appointment, and during that appointment they were suppose to give me a tetanus shot. They gave me the wrong shot. So I had to go back into the doctor later to get the tetanus shot I was suppose to get the first time. When I went back in, I just got the shot, then left; no other service was provided. I then get a bill for the second visit, and this exchange happens when I call their billing department.)

Me: “I am calling regarding a bill I got. I don’t think I should be charged for this appointment because the only reason I had to come in was because of an error by the nurse.”

Billing: “I show here you had an appointment on [first date] and you paid your copay; is that correct?”

Me: “Yes.”

Billing: “Then I show you had a follow up appointment on [second date], and you did not pay your copay. That is why we are billing you.”

Me: “That’s why I’m calling. The appointment on the [second date] was only required because your nurse made a mistake on the [first date]. If she had not made a mistake, I wouldn’t have come in for that appointment.”

Billing: “I understand, sir, but since you came in for the second appointment, then we need to bill you for that appointment. Since your insurance covered everything but the copay, you have to pay that copay.”

Me: “Let me explain again. On the first appointment, your nurse made a mistake. She gave me the wrong injection. I had to come in for the second appointment only because she made a mistake. If she had not made the mistake, I wouldn’t have come back in.”

Billing: “It doesn’t matter; you still have to pay.”

Me: *getting frustrated now* “Okay, let me ask you this another way. After your nurse made a mistake the first time, I could have gone to a lawyer, or filed a complaint against your practice. Also, I could have filed a complaint with my insurance provider, since you have actually billed them twice for getting the same injection. I did none of those things. So your choice is to now credit my account for the copay, or my next call will be to the medical practice board, and then my insurance company.”

Billing: “One moment, please.” *puts me on hold for about five minutes then comes back* “I’ve talked to the doctor. We are going to waive that copay, but we will not do it again for any further visits.”

(After that call I found a new doctor. No surprise, his practice went out of business a few months later. I know people complain how everyone is lawsuit-happy nowadays. You’d think if you had a patient who wasn’t interested in going the legal route but just didn’t want to be charged for their mistake they would happily oblige. I guess not.)

Always Getting A Stony Reception

, , , , | Healthy | August 27, 2018

(I’m 22 years old, female, and reasonably healthy for my age while living away at university. When I’m home at my parents for Christmas, I suddenly get a sharp pain in the centre of my chest, radiating out to the centre of my right rib cage. It’s not too severe at first, but I cannot walk straight and end up laying on the floor for two hours.)

Mom: *sitting on my bed, trying to keep me calm, talking to the out-of-hours telephone service, as well* “This pain has never happened before; I’m not really sure what to do here.”

Phone Responder: “All right, there’s not much we can do, unfortunately; judging by your description it could be a diaphragm spasm or a fructose allergy causing the tightness. You can give her pain relief, but all we can recommend is to call your GP in the morning.”

Mom: “All right, thank you.”

(Thankfully, the pain passes in about three hours, so we figure it’s a one-time thing and continue our lives. I get more pains, like this one and worse, about two or three times a year until I’m 24, where I finally go to my GP after a particularly bad “attack” where I end up vomiting from the pain.)

Me: *describes the symptoms in detail* “I was speaking to a family friend who’s had gallstones and says she had the same pains. Could it be that?”

Doctor: “Hmm, I doubt it; you’re simply too young and too healthy for it. It’s probably acid reflux. Try some [Known Heartburn Brand] for a while and see how you get on with that.”

(I leave and do as he asks, and for a while it seems to work… until this year at the age of 25. I have a pain so bad I begin violently vomiting, begging my mom to call an ambulance because I’m convinced something inside me has ruptured because of the severity of the pain. She does, and thankfully they arrive within minutes. I’m unable to talk because of the pain, so my mom is the one having to describe everything.)

Mom: *helping me explain the pain and pointing where it is on her own body, since I’m curled up into a ball on the bathroom floor* “She’s had these pains before, but never this bad. We don’t like to bother emergency services unless it’s severe.”

Paramedic: “We’ll try paracetamol and [heartburn medicine] first to see if that helps. Is that okay?”

(I nod, and the paramedics do as they promised, but after 20 minutes the pain is still worsening and I’m not able to think on anything else anymore. I can’t breathe, I feel like I’m dying or I’m going to pass out, and it’s overall a terrifying experience.)

Paramedic: “All right, since that’s not helping we’re going to give her some gas and air until we can move her over to the bed and check her over, okay?”

Mom: “That’s fine; she’s definitely not allergic to anything, so she can have whatever is needed.”

(Thankfully, the gas and air dulls the pain enough for me to get off the bathroom floor onto my bed, but it’s still severe and I’m shivering from the intensity. The paramedics do all their checks, pressing on the area with the pain, which causes me to cry again.)

Paramedic: “I think she’s got something wrong with her gallbladder. It’s unusual for her age, but it’s the only explanation for this pain and the area of it. I think it would be wise for her to go to hospital to check for sludge stuck in there or stones.”

(My mom agreed, but I insisted that she stay home so she didn’t have to see me in pain anymore. Once I was in the ambulance, I was also given morphine and some anti-vomiting medicine, as I was still being sick. At the hospital, the pain was starting to fade and eventually the emergency room nurse discharged me with the diagnosis of stress from just finishing university. I was tired, delirious, and fed up at this point, so even though I tried to argue, I didn’t have the strength and I left. I went back to my GP a few weeks later, and with a note from the ambulance team included in my file with their suspicions, and my mom not letting me leave without an answer, I was booked in for an ultrasound and a blood test. The ultrasound revealed I had some of the biggest gallstones the staff had ever seen in someone of my age, and I’m now waiting on surgery to remove my entire gallbladder. Just because someone doesn’t match the “average” symptom group doesn’t mean it’s absolutely not that illness, and if I had been listened to in the first place, I wouldn’t be losing my gallbladder!)

A Teeth-Grinding Generalization

, , , , , | Healthy | August 27, 2018

(I haven’t been to the dentist for several years, but an old family friend — who cleaned my teeth when I was a child — has recently moved to the area, so I go to her for a cleaning. The following takes place with her hands and tools inside my mouth, so I can’t spit.)

Hygienist: “You really need to brush your rear teeth better. I know you can, because they’re clean right now. But your lazy brushing has caused all sorts of problems back here. And you really need to lay off the soda. Really, sugar in general. And high-acid foods and drinks. Soda is pretty much the worst, though. And greasy food isn’t much better! You clearly eat too much fast food, and it’s not good for you. Your back teeth are just falling apart because of all that junk food!”

(Her tirade continues for more than ten minutes. She lectures me like I’m still a child despite that I’m in my mid-20s, before she finally removes her hands so I can pause to rinse and spit. She immediately reaches to start again, but I hold up a hand.)

Me: “We need to get something straight. I don’t eat high-acid foods, or greasy foods. I can’t afford to eat out, even cheap fast food. And I have soda maybe once a month. And while I don’t claim to be perfect, and do occasionally forget to brush before bed when I’m exhausted, I am meticulous about cleaning all my teeth, especially the molars. The reason why they’re so bad off is that I have severe acid reflux. I have had it my whole life. I even had an ulcer a few years back. That’s why I can’t eat any of that crap, and why I can’t help my teeth being somewhat decalcified. Until my doctor and I get the reflux under control, there’s nothing I can do to improve my teeth.”

(I sat back, opened wide, and let her resume cleaning. She was silent for a few minutes, before softly starting to catch me up on the doings of her own kids, who I hadn’t seen in years and was glad to hear about. The rest of the appointment went smoothly after that, and the dentist was informed of my reflux before walking into the room, so he didn’t repeat her mistake. I ended up needing all five of my wisdom teeth removed — apparently I had an extra one — due to extreme decalcification. They were honestly getting spongy by that point. But the visit ended well, and I still go back to the same folks, sans lectures now.)

Some Pathetically Idiotic Understanding

, , , , | Healthy | August 26, 2018

(I am sitting in the waiting room, hoping my ankle isn’t broken, when I overhear this:)

Mom: *to dad, dragging her five-year-old girl behind her* “Yeah, the doctor said it was just idiot pathetic vomiting. We have to come in if she tries it again.”

(It took me a while to figure out this lady was trying to pronounce, “idiopathic,” meaning, “of unknown cause.” That poor kid!)

They Need A Head Doctor

, , , | Healthy | August 25, 2018

(I work at the main information and patient enquiries desk for a major hospital. I get asked the full range of questions, some often way out of my scope of knowledge, but I try my best to at least point people in the right direction! People often give me very few details of what they want and just assume I will read their mind. I cannot check patients in for appointments; I must direct them to the clinic they are seeing.)

Me: “Good morning! How can I help you?”

Visitor: “[Last Name].”

Me: “Is that an inpatient you’re looking for?”

Visitor: “I have an appointment. [Last Name].”

Me: “Okay, what type of specialist are you seeing?”

Visitor: “[Last Name].”

Me: “Okay, I don’t need your name, just what type of doctor you’re seeing. What’s it for? Your heart? Bones? Lungs?”

Visitor: “[Last Name].”

Visitor’s Friend: “1:30.”

Me: *to friend* “What type of specialist?”

Visitor’s Friend: “[Last Name].”

Me: *trying so very hard to remain calm* “What. Kind. Of. Doctor?”

Visitor’s Friend: “Oh! I’m not sure. Hang on; let me check the paperwork…”

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