You know when you go from one doctor to the next and assume that behind you is a long trail of medical records, tests, procedures, and all sorts of fun events. I make a point of trying to bring notes to doctor appointments - what did they do last time, what did they tell me last time, what did they tell me they would do this time, and anything else I can think of. So I bounce around between my primary care physician, surgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, therapist, the doctor's physician assistants as needed, orthopedic surgeon, and then I am sure there are few others plus all the nurses on staff who I deal with and technicians who run the 'procedures'. Who else? I'm not sure but I know there are more including the gastroenterologist I haven't seen since last year, the dermatologist I see rarely and the general surgeon who took out my gall bladder.
Do you remember the game of post office, or whispers or whatever you called it in your neighborhood growing up? You would sit in a circle and the first person would whisper something to the person sitting next to them who would whisper it to the next and then to the next and finally as it got back to the original person, they would say it out loud and everyone would laugh at how far off it was. Pretend that was your medical records? How warm and comfy do you feel now?
Well thankfully doctors and the medical profession have worked very hard on improving communication and do all sorts of things - computerized records are now coming into play, team care, etc. But, mistakes still happen. And what if your new doctor is at a different medical facility - you need to make sure your medical history and test results get there - the Pony Express isn't going to show up and do it for you. Also, just because everything is computerized doesn't mean everything is right.
Our medical co-pay changed in January to $20/visit. I am still correcting it every time I go. I have been told dozens of times by the staff, 'I'll put it in the system, sometimes it just doesn't take. But I am sure it will be in there now.' Well its September... My list of medications (which were all prescribed by doctors at the hospital, still don't seem to have made it into the computer. Nor have my medical allergies. I just carry around a list of allergies and medications for each visit.
Go read this article from the New York Times yesterday about medical hand offs. It doesn't seem so silly any more when they ask you your name and date of birth so many times or reconfirm for the 8th time in 20 minutes what exactly is being done, does it?
Well I am now running late and have a mosquito bite on my leg INSIDE my air cast. This will be a FUN day...