Sunday, February 17, 2013

The jester has left the building......

After the third time, I wanted to strangle a doctor. Whichever one said it again. With my bare hands.

I do try to see the humor in just about any situation that crosses my path, but occasionally the jester just doesn't juggle that day. Plus, the issue is one that appears in the news periodically, with much lamenting and commission-forming, all to no avail apparently. Memories are short (I can't even joke about that one right now), and we are all busy folks, tending to our lives without worrying about things so overwhelming.

But here it was.....again....within the span of about four weeks. I'm not in a laughing mood.

The man in my life was ill in November. Ill enough that he ended up in the hospital for a week, and you know what that meant. Every test known to man (and woman) was performed on him, some of them multiple times. Finally he was released with strict orders to see his own doctors for follow ups to determine a course of action, if action was deemed necessary. So, the first appointment was made with the appropriate doctor, two weeks in the future.

We sat in the examining room after the nurse did nurse-type things, and left us sitting there. Without too much of a wait, the doctor came in and proceeded to ask questions that indicated to me that he had no idea why we were even there. But, hey, I AM a wiser woman than I used to be, so I stayed quiet. (Stop laughing. I really did!) When the purpose of the visit was made clear, he said, "Oh, well, I can't do anything until I get the records from the hospital. Make another appointment at the front desk for two weeks, and we should have the files by then." And he left.

OK, I'm confused. They knew when the appointment was made that this was a follow up from a hospital stay. I know they did. So, now more time will pass before any action will be taken, plus two visits will be charged to Medicare, with more co-pays for the patient, too. Why weren't the records requested in the two weeks between the appointment being made and the actual visit?

Oh, well. What can you do? So, in two weeks, he returned to the doctor's office, an appointment was made with a specialist based on the files obtained from the hospital (finally), and another two weeks goes by. In between, more doctor's visits with other providers, all of whom have to....surprise!....request the records from the hospital! (Can you say "coordination of care" very loudly, please?) More delays, more billing to Medicare, more co-pays and deductibles for the patient.

Finally, we show up at the specialist's office, thinking we are there to schedule a life-saving procedure, and guess what? He needs the records from the hospital, even though the referring doctor has them and could have provided them himself. Or, what a concept, maybe someone in a doctor's office could be tasked with checking a few days before patients show up to see if such a thing might be needed, and take care of that BEFORE the patient shows up. One visit instead of two. Seems logical to me, but what do I know?

I try hard not to get sucked into conspiracy theory-type thinking, but maybe that's the point of all this waste. We often hear of patients committing fraud of one kind or the other, but how about doctors and other health providers? I'm only the one paying for all of these superfluous visits. And so are you.

I know the arguments about reimbursement for services, but I also know what we tell our children about following a bad course just because someone else is doing it. When does it stop? How will it stop? Will my daughter's generation have anything left for them?

Does anybody think this is funny?

We are on the top of a national trend that is causing a hemorrhage of tax dollars ... 
It's a tsunami of fraud..  
Orlando Sentinel 2013-02-17

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