Yesterday, Friday the 28th, I was to have a lumbar puncture (LP) or spinal tap. This was an appointment that the neurology clinic had scheduled at their convenience, and was set for 9am. I have had a LP before and ended up with a massive headache afterwards so I asked a friend to take off work and come with if I was not in any condition to drive.
I arrived before the scheduled time, did the entire check in thing at the main desk and proceeded to the neuro clinic. After waiting a few at their desk someone finally came and took my papers, told me to have a seat and they would call me when they were ready for me.
I sat there in the sterility of the neuro clinic watching the desk people deal with other patients and wondering how long this entire procedure was going to take. A young woman came in and after talking with the staff I call Mr. Personality, actually I think his name is John, she sat one chair down from me. She was obviously peeved after her conversation with John, and was muttering to herself. I asked if she was okay, and she looked at me then John and said what I had been thinking for months, “That guy’s a jerk.”
I had to smile, my opinion had been validated. I asked her why, and she told me that she had asked what exactly was going to go on today, and she was told that she would be seeing a physiatrist. For those that don’t know, a physiatrist is a medical doctor trained in rehabilitation and pain management. She then said that John had told her she would find out what a physiatrist was when she saw the doctor.
She asked me if I knew, and I told her that they were a branch of medicine that specialized in rehab and pain management. Her comment was, “Why couldn’t he just tell me that.”
About 9:40 a nurse came out and called my name. She was folding my file, and asked me why I was in the office and wanted to know if it was for some “lab work?” I told her that I thought it was for the spinal tap, but I wasn’t really sure. I had called the office on the day I received the appointment letter to find out what exactly was going to happen on the day of the appointment. All the letter said was “Nurse Neurology” with no other information. I never did receive a call back regarding what was going to happen. She told me to wait for a few and she would be right back.
About 10-15 minutes went by and she returned. She asked me to step out into the hallway, and the young woman I had been talking to about the physiatrist commented, “That can’t be good.”
The nurse and I stepped out into the hall and she informed me that my attending doctor was to do the LP, however since she was just a resident she could not do it without the supervision of the neurologist. He, however, was not available to supervise at this time, and that it could be quite a while until they could do the procedure, if at all. She added that they would like to reschedule the LP if that was okay with me. I told her to reschedule the test and call me with the new date.
The new date now is November 11th at 9am. Hopefully the supervising doctor will be there on that date.
So I spent the morning waiting around for nothing. Paid for parking for nothing. A friend lost a day’s wages for nothing. But I did get another piece of the puzzle solved.
My attending is a resident. In other words she is in training and learning. Not that I am complaining about someone learning their profession, but I would think that a doctor in training would review a file with the supervising doctor rather than just tell a patient that they “don’t know.” It makes the resident look incompetent and the department look as if it has no one in charge. But then again with the neurology department, I don’t think anyone is in charge.
The last time I was there I got to hear John complaining to another staffer about something on E-Bay. This with a waiting room filled with patients, and people trying to check in. If that is the standard of professionalism that the office maintains it is no wonder that the supervising doctor didn’t keep the appointment that his office set. Hopefully he will be there in two weeks.
After I left neurology I was so ticked by the situation that I asked at the main desk where I could contact the office of the Dean of Medicine/CEO of the hospital or someone who deals with patient issues. I was given the number and location of the patient relations office, and walked down there to speak to someone. The office was closed and it was only 10:30 in the morning, although looking through the glass it looks like it would be a pleasant office to work in. Upscale furnishings with plants and art work on the walls, nothing like the barren and stark office that neurology is. I don’t know, but perhaps that is part of the problem. Money being spent on an office that is not open to the public, but a clinic that has a constant flow of patients has, at best, Spartan furnishings and a staff that either doesn’t seem to care, or just is not there.
I did call the number I was given and left a message that I needed to speak to someone about a patient issue. I received a call back later in the day yesterday and was told that the person who deals with neurology would be getting back with me regarding my concerns. Hopefully she is more attentive to her duties than the neurology department and calls before I go back for my LP.
Anyone who thinks that providing universal healthcare or public healthcare to everyone would fix the kinds of problems I am dealing with is sadly mistaken. You don’t throw more people onto a sinking ship, you try to remove as many as you can before the whole damn thing goes down.