Among a few other ailments, I have edema, a swelling of the lower legs. My general practitioner and I have been trying to treat this condition with diuretics. This has been complicated by my having bad reactions to some of the medications that have been prescribed to me. These complications included total kidney failure, something you may want to avoid.
As we work our way through this issue, which she has decided to address before we try to bring my blood pressure down, it would be nice to be able to communicate with the doctor or one of the practice nurses. That is a very hit or miss proposition. Apparently, medical practices are configured by their business managers so that communications only flow one way: the practice tells the patient stuff, period.
Often, there is quite a bit to communicate in the other direction. Did the medication prescribed have significant side effects? Did the medication prescribed do what it was supposed to do? How much water weight have I lost or gained? How is that effecting my blood pressure and other areas of my health? It can get complicated.
For a long time, I communicated this information back to doctors in letter form. That way, I could provide all the relevant facts and the doctor could read it when they had time, without being interrupted and required to respond immediately . That never worked well, but now it has stopped working at all. I send a letter. I never hear back. I call the practice. They say they never got the letter, and do their best to place the blame for that on me. Later, a search of my records will show that the letter was received, filed by a clerk, and not given to the doctor, or if it was given to the doctor, the doctor never dealt with it.
Since letters were not working, I tried the telephone. I ring up the doctor. Sometimes the receptionist answers to say they will put me through to a nurse, but when they do. no one ever picks up the call. Sometimes all that I can do is leave a message in the “general mailbox” part of the automated practice telephone system. That rarely results in a call back. So telephone calls are not much better than letters.
In fact on the last occasion that I was able to communicate through a nurse to my GP (relative to the diuretic problem), the message that came back was that I needed to make an appointment with a specific cardiologist. This is my fourth day of trying to make an appointment with the practice for whom the cardiologist works,and I am no closer than I was 4 days ago.
My position now is that I cannot even contact my GP to tell her that I can’t seem to get an appointment with her preferred cardiologist. Since her last terse communication included no directions about the diuretic, I have run out. Yesterday, my first day without it, I gained 3.8 pounds of water, on top of the five pounds I had already gained. I very nearly can’t get my sneakers on any more.
But I can’t tell anyone this, because no one will talk to me. You could blame the business manager for cutting costs so their bonus is really big, though in the course of doing so, it has become impossible to communicate with the practice doctors. Therefore, the doctor is unaware that there is a problem, and for all I know, I’m headed back to kidney failure.
Or you could blame the doctor, who may well feel that they are so important that they can just ignore all that business stuff in favor of being a minor medical god. As a result, the business end suffers and it can be impossible to make an appointment or to let the doctor know whether the patient is being healed, when in truth all that is happening is that the patient is being ignored. My guess is that all this is happening because medicine has become Big Business and now it is all smoke, mirrors, and marketing, and thus no real service of any kind is being provided.
All that remains is for all medical practices to carve in stone above their doorways:
We are an LLC. If you die, you die.