The Only Time It’s Acceptable To Ask

, , , , | Healthy | February 11, 2019

(My daughter has had an accident at daycare where she smacked her nose pretty hard into the side of a table, so I’ve taken her to the urgent care clinic across the street. Due to the location of the injury, my husband and I have agreed to have them do an x-ray, just in case. Unfortunately, my husband has to return to work, so it’s just me with my daughter. It is important to note that I am also five-months pregnant, and it’s starting to be very obvious.)

X-Ray Tech: “Hi, Mom! We’re all ready to take [Daughter] for her x-ray.”

Me: “Great! Come on, [Daughter]. We’re going to go take a picture of the inside of your head!”

(The tech takes a better look at me, looks down at my rounded belly, looks back up at me, and puts on an impressively good poker face.)

X-Ray Tech: “I’m sorry, but um… I have to ask; is there any chance you might be pregnant?”

Me: “Yes, five months!” *smiles at her for a few seconds, and then the penny drops* “Ohhh, right.”

X-Ray Tech: “I’ll just get one of the nurses to go in with [Daughter].”

(Pregnancy brain is real!)

Time Heals All Errors

, , , , | Healthy | February 10, 2019

(My father comes off his motorcycle when going round a bend and dislocates his shoulder. This the third time he has dislocated it. This, combined with the fact that he is 65 years old, means the doctors want to keep a close eye on how it is healing. My dad goes to the hospital for a check-up a month or two after the accident.)

Doctor: *looking at scans on the computer* “This doesn’t seem to have healed at all. I think you may need surgery to get this sorted.”

Father: “Are you sure? It feels a lot better.”

Doctor: “Based on what I see, yes. Stay here; I just need to speak someone about getting you scheduled in for the operation.”

(The doctor leaves the office. My father looks at the scans still on the screen and notices something important: the date of the scan is from just after the accident! No wonder it doesn’t appear to be healing. The doctor comes back into the office.)

Doctor: “So, we can get you in—“

Father: “Can I just stop you there? Could you check the date on that scan?”

Doctor: “What?” *checks date and twigs* “Ah. So sorry about that.” *brings up the most recent scan* “That’s much better; the healing seems to on track. We’ll make a follow-up appointment so we can check it again soon.”

Pray They Won’t Be Back(bone)

, , , | Healthy | February 8, 2019

(Making bookings for patients is very easy. All I need is the patient’s name, phone, modality, body part, and doctor’s name. I’ve been on the phone for a few minutes. The patient is giving me a rather detailed explanation of why she needs a scan of her back, yet not telling me anything I need to know. I’m polite and don’t interrupt, but I am spending too much time on this call and my coworker needs help with patients lined up.)

Me: “Okay. That doesn’t sound good. Did your doctor want an x-ray, ultrasound, or CT?”

Patient: “Scan of my back. My back.”

Me: “On the form your doctor gave you, did they write XR, CT, or US anywhere?”

Patient: “My doctor’s name is [Doctor].”

Me: “Lovely.” *first piece of information off my checklist, but not what I asked for* “Did they check any boxes? Can you see, ‘spine,’ etc., anywhere?”

Patient: “Yes. It’s so sore. So sore.”

Me: “The paper the doctor gave you. Can you read it to me?”

Patient: “I have a paper. It says nothing.”

Me: *still very polite* “It doesn’t have your name on it? Not the doctor’s name and signature?”

Patient: “Yes, my name is [Patient]!

(I can’t take it down until I know what they need and what room to start in, so I make a mental note for later.)

Me: “Okay. Now, the paper has nothing on it?”

(I know it’s repetitive, but I have to confirm for what I have to say next if it’s true.)

Patient: “Nothing. There’s nothing!”

Me: “Okay. So, that means its invalid. You’d need to go to the doctor and get him to write you a referral.”

Patient: “It’s here!” *now livid* “No! No. No. It says here!”

Me: “I’m sorry?”

Patient: “It says XR spline. Yes, s-p-l-i-n-e! Lubosac — My back!’

(I gathered it was an x-ray lumbosacral spine, but don’t you just love how information materialises?)

A Busy State Of Travel

, , , , , | Working | February 5, 2019

(I’m reviewing a patient’s medical records that are part of a study but were flagged for “inconsistencies.” Usually, this means that the dates of illness or medication don’t make sense, but in this case, I see that the reviewer has highlighted the patient’s travel history, which is blank. I track down the physician who filled out the form.)

Me: “Hi, [Doctor], I’m reviewing the charts for [study] and I saw that—“

Doctor: *laughing* “Travel history, right?”

Me: “Uh… yeah.”

Doctor: “Turns out someone coded in upper limits to the interstate travel portion of the form, because it can’t go over seven times a week.”

Me: “What? How often does this guy travel?”

Doctor: “Well, the form just asks about traveling to another state. He lives in [State], but… legally, half his house is across state lines. So, his answer was, ‘Eight or nine times a day,’ and the computer didn’t like that one.”

Medicaid: Come Back When There’s More Than One Stomach Hole

, , , | Healthy | February 3, 2019

(I have been extremely sick with stomach issues for quite a long time, but have had zero luck finding a doctor who will take on a Medicaid patient. One day, the pain after trying to eat something becomes so severe that I ask my grandma to take me to the ER. We go to the main hospital downtown and wait. My mom eventually gets off work and comes to take grandma’s place waiting with me. Finally, after over eight hours, I’m called back. We sit with the doctor and talk about my symptoms: non-stop nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, exhaustion, unable to keep anything solid down, and so on, getting progressively worse over the course of more than a year. I’ve survived on an increasingly all-liquid diet all that time, so it’s clear something’s wrong.)

Doctor: “Well, you’re young, so I’m not too worried about it. I know you’re in school right now. Remember, your state of mind can really affect your body. Have you been depressed at all?”

(Yep, no tests or anything other than checking my blood sugar and doing a pregnancy and drug screening. I am discharged with basically the advice to try to relax and find a GP to discuss things with. Exactly one week later, I’m at home, and this time start vomiting blood pretty much nonstop rather than the usual intermittent basis. I call the nursing helpline for my Medicaid provider.)

Nurse: “You’re bleeding internally. You need to get to an ER immediately. Do you have someone who can drive you, or should I line up a ride for you?”

Me: “Well, I was literally just in the ER last week.”

Nurse: “Miss, you really need to go back. Is there someone who can take you?”

Me: “Yeah, I know my mom will take me if I tell her. Thank you.”

(Sure enough, my mom came to get me, and we headed for the one hospital in town not part of the network that ran the other one, as it was the local Catholic hospital. I was checked in and taken back within a few minutes, the doctor really listened, and they did tests, giving me meds to help with the nausea in the meantime. Turns out, my H. pylori numbers were practically astronomical, and the ultrasound revealed visible swelling where an ulcer was on the brink of eating through my stomach, in addition to the anemia and high white cell count. I effectively got there pretty much just in time. So, yeah, that’s my story of how most of the medical system wanted to effectively leave me to die just because I couldn’t make enough between my four jobs while going to school, and the one hospital that saved my life. Thanks to a scheduler in the local medical system, I have since found a GP and a GI specialist who are working on the underlying autoimmune issue we’ve since found, as well as getting the stomach issues under control that I was left with due to long-term lack of treatment.)

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