Posted by: notdeaddinosaur | April 1, 2010

It Happened Again, Dammit

Why do people keep doing this?!?

I got a call from the cheerful chippy at the cardiologist’s office:

CCCO: Your patient, 28-year-old Joe Bloe, has an appointment to see us tomorrow. Would you please fax over any recent blood work or EKGs he’s had at your office?

Me (after pulling chart from cold storage): We haven’t seen this patient since 2002, so we don’t have anything “recent” on him. But I do see that he saw you for palpitations in the past. Don’t you have that information in your records?

CCCO: No, I’m afraid I don’t. Could you please fax them over?

Me: Um, I guess so. What is he coming to see you for anyway?

CCCO: I don’t know.

Me: What?

CCCO: There’s no Presenting Complaint written down.

Let me get this straight: a patient calls up and says, “I’d like to see a cardiologist,” and you say, “Sure, come on in,” WITHOUT EVEN DETERMINING THAT HE ACTUALLY NEEDS A CARDIOLOGIST?!? What the fuck! Whatever his complaint actually turns out to be, you’d better believe that these idiots cardiologists are going to do a bunch of “screening” tests (blood, EKG, echocardiogram, probably a stress test) on him because, well, because they can. Because they’re cardiologists.

And if they don’t find anything (as they’re perilously unlikely to on a 24-year-old guy who hasn’t seen a doctor in eight years), they’ll ship him off to at least three other specialists; probably a gastroenterologist to see if his chest pain is GERD, a pulmonologist to evaluate his lungs, and an allergist because, well, he may have allergies. The GI will do an endoscopy and give him Nexium, the pulmonologist will order a chest x-ray and pulmonary function tests (probably before even seeing him), and the allergist will skin test him. By the time all is said and done (and the patient winds up with a diagnosis of anxiety) he will have generated thousands of dollars in medical care for literally no reason at all.

No wonder medical care in this country is so fucking expensive.


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