By Krissy Anderson
I don’t like to see doctors blamed for things that have happened because of government and private insurance company interferences. It seems like there is change around every corner today in healthcare, which can easily interrupt the job doctors are supposed to be doing, caring for patients in the best way they can.
I like to sympathize with doctors most of the time. It’s usually not the doctor’s fault when a patient has miles of hoops to jump through to get something done, like fill a prescription. On the other hand, some doctors could explain a little more to patients about conditions, medications, prognoses, etc. I’m sure we’ve all walked out of a doctor’s office with our heads cocked like puppies at least once.
My frustration with doctors is that there aren’t nearly enough who speak out in defense of themselves and their patients. Their voices are missing in so many timely conversations patients are having right now on social media and informative websites such as the National Pain Report. Their voices are needed to loudly defend their methods and their patients against insurance and governmental decisions that are ridiculous, and decisions about medicine made by over-titled suits who happen to have jobs they believe make them some sort of reigning kings and queens of prescribing regulations and testing limitations.
As I was organizing some thoughts in my mind about this, I started in on a long list of unread emails that have piled up lately. The first email I chose to open was the latest KevinMD.com newsletter.
An article titled, “Doctors and patients: We’re on the same side!” caught my attention first. Dr. Kevin begins talking to medical students in a video he made, but what he is saying is attributable to patients also.
Sarah Kliff, who writes for VOX.com states a very good example of why and how we need to interact with our doctors so they understand us and we understand them. We need to let them know what we go through to get prescriptions filled, get lab work done and receive reports, and those “sometimes days” when one has to spend hours and hours in one day, for example, just communicating back and forth with the doc’s office and a pharmacy.
Sarah’s article is called, “Unpaid, Stressed and Confused: Patients are the Healthcare system’s free labor”.
Kliff stresses the work we patients go through to get done what our doctors ask us to do with lab tests, MRIs, etc., getting a prescription filled or a specialist’s appointment approved and scheduled.
Did you know that a fellow at Mayo Clinic whose job it is to study the patient’s role, or job, in his or her own healthcare?
Sometimes patients have to spend hours, even days, trying to get a communication going among doctor, patient, lab and/or pharmacy. And many times, when it comes to pain or other urgent medication fills, time is of the essence so that a patient doesn’t run out of meds, which could cause serious side effects.
Kliff’s idea of having our doctors, labs, therapies and pharmacies set up on a computer platform so that all parties, including patients, could access information and get complicated processes solved easily, is brilliant.
Most doctor’s office are not so technologically inclined.
Remember those appointments that, while we sat in a chair in silence, the doctor or nurse input information into the computer, all the while complaining how new and difficult systemizing things have become? There was indeed training for these people, but obviously not enough practice time. I was so very impressed that finally things were going to be computerized and that communications would improve. I was patient with the time they needed to get through an appointment, knowing the world was getting better beneath my feet. But did it? The “My Chart” system, and others like it, was going to be great! But the last MD I had didn’t bother to use it, while her staff kept telling me to get online to get my emails answered.
I got nothing.
As an example, when I tell a nurse who is going over my meds on the computer and asks if I have any allergies, that I need her to put into my record that I cannot, at any time ever, have an antibiotic. “Which antibiotics are you allergic to?” is the next question I always hear. I reiterate, I cannot take any antibiotics including OTC creams. Then I have to explain: You must refer to the Mayo Clinic’s Infectious Diseases department if I ever need an antibiotic. I have to be in a life-threatening situation. But every single time, the nurse says, “I don’t have a field on my program to put in that information.”
No field for notes or special situations?
Who wrote this software?
I just sigh.
I could die easily because there isn’t a field for my insane allergies and resistances to antibiotics. There is NO computerized nor organized method of how this information gets from one doctor to another except by my own word. But the last time I saw my records (they were printed, not online), my doctor at that time wrote by hand in the column next to my antibiotic problem, “I doubt this.” (Patient beware - you may not be believed about a serious allergy or condition.) What was that third cause of death again? Medical errors!
I would hope that as the medical world further computerizes and streamlines our medical information, and keeps us better connected, that this will all iron out in time. But if it doesn’t happen, I picture in my head a satirical cartoon: Computer and body parts are blowing up in the air with word bubbles saying, “FRUSTRATION, AGAIN!”
In this mix of thoughts, I believe we do need to recognize our doctors as humans, get to know them and make it so they get to know us. Praise them for good work, complain about bad experiences, and for goodness sakes, encourage these three things, 1) computerization of the medical system, 2) doctors need to speak out more 3) the pressure and stress we have when our doctors don’t believe us. I suspect a lot could be added to this list!
Don’t forget to thank your medical team.
Krissy Anderson is an award-winning freelance writer who has several life-long pain conditions. Her work has been published for more than 30 years, and translated into 17 languages.