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That’s Not Really Something You Overlook

, , , , , , , , | Working | October 25, 2022

My mom told me this story about getting the hospital bill after my brother was born, back in the early 1980s. The bill had the normal and expected charges, but many of them were doubled. Upon closer investigation, Mom realized the charges were for [Brother] and for “Baby.” She called the hospital’s billing office to clarify.

Mom: “I’m confused about why I have charges for two babies.”

Biller: “Yes, there are charges for both of your sons: [Brother] and Baby.”

Mom: “I only had one baby.”

Biller: “I show that you had twins.”

Mom: “I definitely didn’t.”

Biller: “My end shows two babies.”

Mom: “No. I would remember if I had twins. And if I did have two babies, I absolutely would have named the other one.”

The duplicate charges were corrected. And for the record, she never gave birth to any twins, and all of my siblings and I were given names promptly.

We’re Not Sure Exactly What Their Job Is, But This Seems… Wrong…

, , , , , , , | Working | October 25, 2022

I work for a medical supplier that sells disability equipment. We sell to the public as well as National Health Service hospitals, schools, and councils. Most of our products can be returned; however, a very small minority is made to order. These particular items are very specialist and require measurements to be taken of the patient who will be using the equipment for correct sizing. Because of this, these items are strictly non-returnable as we sell so few that it might be years, if ever, before we get an order for a certain specification.

The fact that these items are non-returnable is in big lettering on the pages for these items both in our printed catalogue and on our website.

We receive a purchase order for one of these items from a hospital. I check with the manufacturer to see their current turnaround time and then give the staff member who has placed the order a call.

Me: “Hi. I’m calling from [Medical Supplier] about your order [purchase order number]. Just wanted to check that you are aware that these items are non-returnable.”

Hospital Staff Member: “So?”

Me: “Well, we just wanted to ensure that the healthcare professional who has ordered this is aware of this and that they have checked that the patient’s measurements are definitely correct as we will only accept a return if the product is faulty.”

Hospital Staff Member: *In a nasty tone* “Are you trying to tell me how to do my job?!”

Me: “Not at all; my apologies if that is how it has come across. It’s just that the item is £5,000, so we like to double-check that all the details are correct before we order it to be produced.”

Hospital Staff Member: “Well, I know how to do my job, so order it as I have requested.”

Me: “Certainly. I will get that ordered today. The manufacturer will have that ready for delivery to you in ten days.”

Twelve days later, a colleague transfers a call to me to do a high-value return which, as the deputy manager, I can authorise.

Caller: “Hi. We’ve had a delivery, but it’s too small for the patient so we need to return it. It’s [purchase order number].”

Me: “Sure, let me bring up the details. Okay, is that [item]?”

Caller: “Yes, that’s the one. It’s not suitable.”

Me: “Okay, well, this item is non-returnable, as stated in our catalogue and on our website, so unfortunately, we are unable to accept a return or provide a refund.”

Caller: “THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE! This is £5,000, and the hospital cannot afford to waste this amount of money. I demand you accept a return. We were not informed that we could not return it, so the doctor ordering it guessed the patient’s measurements.”

Me: “I’ve just checked the notes, and it was me personally who called to advise of this and to ask if the measurements had been checked. I spoke to [Hospital Staff Member], who told me that they knew how to do their job and that I should proceed with the order. Shall I speak to [Hospital Staff Member]?”

Caller: “Oh… Okay. No, that won’t be necessary.”

Me: “You sure? I can pull the call recording and send that over to you as proof.”

Caller: “No… It’s okay. I am [Hospital Staff Member].”

A few days later, we get an emailed complaint from a manager at [Hospital] about us not accepting a return. I reply with a copy of our standard business terms, screenshots of our website and catalogue showing where it states that the item is non-returnable, and a copy of the call recording where I tried to confirm the measurements. I don’t hear anything for a week, so I give the manager a call so I can close out the complaint.

Me: “I’m calling from [Medical Supplier] about your complaint about us not accepting a return of [item]. I haven’t heard back from you and just wanted to know if I could close out the complaint?”

Manager: *Sounding defeated* “Yes, that’s fine. You can close it. [Hospital Staff Member] advised the doctor who ordered it to guess the measurements and that would be fine.”

That’s just one of the many examples I came across of money being wasted in the NHS!

We’re Guessing LMAO Isn’t Approved, Either?

, , , , | Healthy | CREDIT: ThisPercentage | October 23, 2022

It’s 1990. I am a relatively new corpsman (medic) assigned to a surgery ward at the Naval Hospital. Our patients are all post-op and there are sixty beds. There are six or so corpsmen assigned to take care of these patients. As part of our duties, we are to chart our findings and observations as we make our rounds.

This surgery ward is usually the first assignment for corpsmen and nurses coming fresh from school. I joined the Navy at twenty-one, so I am a little more worldwise than my peers who are all eighteen or nineteen. I know, especially in the military, there is the book way of doing things and the effective way of doing things. We have volumes of manuals that cover every aspect of our jobs and duties that you could imagine.

Cue the new nurse who has been assigned and wants to show how good she is at managing the lowly corpsman troops. She is merciless, always looking for opportunities to embarrass or cause trouble for us.

One evening, I observe her shouting at one of the corpsmen for using an unapproved abbreviation in a patient’s chart. What is the offensive abbreviation? “ASAP.” He wrote that the patient needed an evaluation ASAP. You would have thought that he had personally offended [Nurse]’s honor.

I go and look in the approved abbreviations section of our operations manual to confirm that it is not there. It is not. I do find that there is a very extensive list of approved abbreviations available to use, though.

Cue malicious compliance.

I pull all of the corpsmen on the shift and tell them to bring their charts to the break room. We then chart all of the notes together using nothing but approved abbreviations. The notes look like another language! I make sure everyone can read their own notes and send them out to put the charts back.

The pain-in-the-butt nurse comes in to review the notes with the corpsmen. I take the first round. This is done while standing at patients’ bedsides. She opens the chart and looks at the notes.

Nurse: “WHAT IS THIS?!”

Me: “I don’t understand. What do you mean?”

Nurse: “I don’t understand anything you have written.”

Me: “It says that the patient is recovering well with little difficulty, but he will need further evaluation based on his comments and visible demonstration of discomfort and reduced mobility in his left upper limb.”

Nurse: “That is not what it says.”

Me: “Ma’am, I assure you that it does and that those are all approved abbreviations. I am sorry that you do not know them. I do realize that you are new.”

I smiled. She did not. This was the first of sixty charts she had to review.

I have never seen corpsmen so eager to review chart notes. We did go get the manual for her, just to be helpful.

You Can Only Have So Much Patience For Patients With No Patience

, , , | Healthy | October 21, 2022

I work as a doctor in a psychiatric hospital. Sometimes patients get administered to our hospital against their will because, due to their illness, they’ve become a danger to themselves or others. It’s important to know that despite this, we are a normal hospital and have no security. Since we all have extensive training and experience in de-escalation, everything usually goes peacefully, but there are a few exceptions.

This is one of my most memorable ones.

I’m on the night shift and am responsible for all inbound calls.

Caller: “Hello, this is [Prison]. I’m calling to inform you that we’re going to send you a patient in approximately thirty minutes.”

Me: “…what?”

This is not something we do. At all. While we do sometimes treat patients that have become violent, that is legally only possible if they don’t have a prison sentence. If they do, they will either be treated at a prison hospital or at a forensic psychiatric hospital. 

Caller: “Yeah, he just arrived here, and our prison doctor said he can’t examine him because he’s too violent.”

Me: What?!

Caller: “I know. I’m sorry.”

Me: “You’re aware that we have no security, right? “

Caller: “Yes.”

Me: “And you still want to send him here? From a prison, where you have guards and everything?”

Caller: “I’m sorry, I really am. It’s ridiculous. But that’s what our doctor says. He won’t examine him because he’s afraid the patient will harm him.”

Me: “And it’s okay if he harms me or the nurses?”

Caller: “I’d rather not answer that. Anyway, we’ll be there soon.”

While they’re on the way to our hospital, I call the senior physician on duty. There’s a bit of back and forth that ends with the conclusion that, apparently, the prison doctor can pull a few strings that make this whole thing legal.

Then, the patient arrives. Strangely enough, at first, he seems entirely peaceful. The police lead him into the examination room.

Me: “Hello, you must be [Patient]. My name is [My Name]. How are you?”

Patient: “Gimme my stuff.”

Me: “I’m sorry, I don’t have your stuff. The policemen might have brought some of your things, though.”

Patient: “No, my stuff! My drugs!”

Policeman: *Cheerily* “Yeah, we told him that since you’re also a withdrawal clinic, you would give him methadone and everything!”

Patient: “Yeah, I want [long list of addictive medications in very high doses].”

Policeman: “Well, he’s all yours now! Have a good night, everyone!”

And before I could say another word, the police were gone.

While, technically, we had everything the guy wanted, this was NOT how it worked. There was no way I could give a potentially lethal dose of drugs to an unknown patient. Instead, he’d be monitored closely and get medication according to his symptoms. This way, the withdrawal wouldn’t be pleasant but as safe as possible.

Luckily, I had the foresight not to tell him this immediately. Instead, I asked two huge male nurses to accompany me and a third one to stand by the door, just in case. From a safe distance, I informed the patient of our planned treatment. Before I could even finish, he threw a table at us. We hightailed out of there as fast as possible and the third nurse locked the door behind us.

While we called the police — seriously, I have no idea why they even left in the first place; it’s not like this wasn’t totally predictable — we could watch through a window as the patient wrecked the entire examination room. We didn’t watch for long, though, because he tried to break the window to get to us.

When the police finally arrived, they acted as if it was my fault for not just giving the guy what he wanted.

I got the last laugh, though, because they ended up having to watch the patient for the rest of the night while he received treatment as planned, and I was able to go to sleep.

What A Bloody Circus

, , , , , , | Healthy | October 5, 2022

CONTENT WARNING: This story contains content of a medical nature. It is not intended as medical advice.

 

I go to donate blood for the first time in a few years, but I am turned down since my iron is too low. I spend the next two days loading up on iron-rich foods and go back to try again. My iron levels are lower. This continues every other day for three weeks. It’s become a personal quest to donate at this point. No amount of meat, spinach, tofu, beans, or supplements can get my iron within the acceptable range.

Finally, one of the phlebotomists looks at my levels for the last three weeks and tells me I should really probably talk to my general practitioner. My general practitioner left the state two years ago, so I go to someone else in the same practice. She sends me off to get a full blood panel done. When the results come in, she calls me to her office.

Doctor: “I can see some abnormalities, but I’m not really qualified to state conclusively what I think is going on. I’m going to call in for a referral to a specialist for you.”

I’m a bit worried at this point, but not overly so. I’m a twenty-eight-year-old woman with no real history of health issues aside from a bout of MRSA when I was a teen.

A few hours go by, and I get a phone call that I recognize as being from the hospital my doctor practices out of. I answer.

Receptionist: “Hello, this is [Major Oncology Office] calling for [My Name]?”

I feel numb. I hadn’t expected a referral to an oncology — cancer — clinic. 

Me: “That’s me.”

Receptionist: “We got a referral for you to come in and meet with [Doctor #2]. We can fit you in [lists several times two weeks out].”

I pick the best time, hang up, and remind myself that nothing is certain at this point.

I’m naturally a very (overly) emotional person and decide I need someone to talk me down. I go to my mother, who has absolutely zero patience for anyone being sick other than herself. You could be bleeding out of your eyes and ears and she’d lecture you on why it was neither a big deal nor worse than anything she had to deal with. I figure she’ll slap some sense into me.

When I go to her house, I sit her down, and tell her what’s been going on the past few weeks and about my upcoming appointment with an oncologist. The color drains from her face and she very uncharacteristically hugs me. She spends the next half-hour listing off all the relatives — whom I never knew about — who died of cancer at about my age. Needless to say, I am far from comforted.

Two weeks go by, and I meet with my oncologist. He turns out NOT to be an oncologist, but rather a hematologist — a blood doctor. He looks over my referral paperwork and then asks me why I’m there. I explain the problems with my iron levels and blood tests. He cuts me off.

Hematologist: “It’s actually your hemoglobin levels. Women naturally have lower hemoglobin levels than men do.”

Me: “That’s why women use a different scale than men for measuring ‘normal’ ranges for hemoglobin, and I’m well below normal by any standards. A woman should have levels just above 12 g/dl. I’m regularly measuring in between 8.5-9.5 g/dl.”

I later learn that blood transfusions are recommended when the level gets to 8.0 g/dl.

He attempts to discreetly roll his eyes.

Hematologist: “Women bleed for a week every month. Of course, they’re going to have low hemoglobin levels.”

Me: “But there is absolutely no correlation between my hemoglobin levels and my menstrual cycle, both of which I have been graphing on a calendar on my phone.”

He sends me for another blood panel. When those results come back, he recommends I take a stool test to check for internal bleeding.

When the results from THAT come back, he says it appears that I probably have an upper GI bleed and need to get a colonoscopy and endoscopy done.

Neither reveals anything out of the ordinary.

By now, nearly six months have gone by. I’m tired all the time, I get dizzy very easily, I have very low blood pressure, and I get frequent muscle cramps.

One day, I’m scrolling through Facebook when a pregnant friend mentions that her pregnancy is causing bad acid reflux and asks for advice. I used to have bad acid reflux myself and a stomach ulcer years ago, so I look at the comments to see if anyone has recommended the extremely common proton-pump inhibitor my original general practitioner put me on years ago before leaving the state.

Several people have recommended it, but one comment thread sticks out: a nurse practitioner friend argues against the proton-pump inhibitor, pointing out several studies showing that it blocks the body’s ability to absorb iron and B12.

I do some more digging online and find out that you’re only supposed to take this medication for up to two weeks. My original doctor told me I would need to take it for the rest of my life and had set up recurrent mail delivery as a result.

I immediately get myself a new doctor with a different practice. I don’t mention my suspicions about the proton-pump inhibitor, but I show him all my blood tests and history regarding my hemoglobin levels. He looks at my general patient files listing the medicines I’m on and immediately tells me my problems are all being caused by the proton-pump inhibitor and I should have been taken off it years ago.

Because not one doctor up to this point had bothered looking at what medications I was on — which their nurses updated in my files every time I visited — I spent nearly eight months of my life getting ridiculous, unnecessary procedures and tests at the cost of well over $3,000 and fearing something was deathly wrong with me.

I filed complaints against the hematologist and my original doctor, but I never heard anything back.