Tuesday, September 20, 2016

My Issues with the Health Care System

I am grateful for all the medical care my child has received over the years. Without the knowledge of doctors and access to care, Jaycee would not be here.

I have been to many specialty appointments with Jaycee over the years. She has spent time in a couple of different emergency rooms and a few different hospitals for illnesses and surgeries. We have gotten to know our area's health care system well. Prior to Jaycee, I didn't have much experience with doctors or hospitals. In the past 10 years, I have had more experience with this system than I would like to have.

There are three things that really aggravate me about the health care system here where I live in America. If you are familiar with doctors and hospitals, you will probably identify with some of these.

1. Results from tests, labs, and x-rays are not quickly communicated to patients.
If there is a true emergency, the results of different tests are easy to get. Results come quickly in the hospital and can be obtained easily by asking a nurse or doctor. When tests or labs are done outpatient, the results are very slow to be communicated to patients. I find this very frustrating!

The doctor that orders labs for Jaycee is not present when we hold her down for the blood draw, deal with her fists of fury, and listen to her cries as she is often poked again and again to find a vein. If we go through all of that for blood work, then I want to know what the results are! We went through a considerable amount of pain to get them.

When I don't hear back from the doctors regarding labs and tests, I get worried.
-Did the doctor forget about them?
-Maybe they didn't call because they are normal.
-Maybe the labs are bad and no one remembered to follow up on them. Maybe there's something wrong and we will never know.
-Maybe the lab never ran the sample.

Because my mind can supply many scenarios, I would appreciate a call whether the labs are good or bad. I am grateful for the rare doctors that do call me within a couple of days. They get a gold star from me.

One of the things that I do like is the access to online medical records from our Children's hospital. I can go online and now obtain lab results a day later. I no longer have to wait for a nurse-though I still feel like they should call. I can make sure there is follow up when I see a lab that is out of normal range. I love that sometimes I have to point a particular bad lab out to the office, since the follow through just was not there. All these years later, it still amazes me how many labs and test results aren't communicated to the patient or their family when it's their insurance and co-payments paying for it.

2. The wait time in waiting rooms is sometimes ridiculous.
Doctors have waiting rooms for one reason- for us to wait. Some specialists we see are consistently on time. Others, I just dread going to because I know the wait is going to be so long. I don't understand why patients must have to wait and wait. I don't understand if the doctors are over-scheduled, if there was an emergency that pulled the doctor away, or if the doctor just showed up late. I don't mind waiting 15-20 minutes as that seems to be the standard minimum wait time for appointments. But long waits every time at an office signal to me that something is wrong with the doctor or the scheduler. I wish my time was valued as much as the doctor's time. Usually, there is no apology or an explanation for the delay. It's just expected that we wait for the doctor. I have spent more time in a waiting room with Jaycee than I ever wanted.

3. The wait to get into specialists is sometimes too long.
Picture this: You are told something may be wrong with your child. It's nothing life or death, but it is a diagnosis that may have life long consequences. Now imagine that you are told to wait 8-12 months to get in to a doctor to confirm a diagnosis. That's nice, right? That's the worst scenario we have had. But there are other less worse situations. Sometimes a test result comes back that requires us to see a specialist, but the wait is 4-6 weeks. That's 4-6 weeks I have spent googling the possible problem and playing out every scenario in my head. In time, I have learned that this too is standard. If it's not life-threatening then we are expected to wait until there is an opening. Just because the possible problem might be life changing for us, it doesn't mean we are a high priority to be seen.

I have other issues with the health care system like how ridiculous some things cost, but that's for another post another time.

What about you? What's your top 3 annoyances with the health care system?


  1. TOP 3:
    1. Being treated dismissively by specialists [They may know more about the general diagnosis, but I am the expert on how it behaves in my child. When I am concerned, they had better know there's reason to be concerned!]
    2. Being talked down to by medical staff [Too often it seems that we parents of remarkable kids are treated like the world's lowest common denominator.]
    3. Being pushed in medical directions we have already decided to avoid [There again, that "We know better than you" mentality really gets my goat. Besides, can you tell my why asthma/allergy is pushing my kid to get the HPV vaccine?!]

    Phew! Thanks, Evana. I feel better for venting already.


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