It’s one of those times in life when you’re not quite certain what happened and even less certain what to do next.
Back to the frustrating appointment, the one I really, really want to get behind me. It has now been six weeks. The rheum doc did the regular blood work as well as another specialty test (the one that was quite expensive). In addition, my primary doc had requested another test that was done at the same time.
I knew my regular doc did not have a copy of the labs because I went to him with the flu two weeks after my rheum visit. I called the following week, three weeks after the rheum appointment, and asked for the test results to be faxed to me. I was curious to know the results and since I had received no communication from the rheum doc I took the initiative to get the results. As a routine, I like to keep copies of all my labs and other diagnostics.
At the three week call, I was told the regular labs would be faxed, but she would have to check on the specialty test. Nothing was ever faxed. No one ever called me. This was all curious because the vendor for the specialty test had filed with my insurance company two days after the appointment, so I knew the draw was not lost in transit.
Three weeks later, now six weeks post appointment, I called again. The lady said she would fax the results. A few minutes later I watched the fax print and knew it didn’t look right. I took the pages from the machine and each section said “No Results Reported.”
I called the rheum doc’s office again and left a message for his assistant. I explained what had happened. She called me yesterday afternoon and said she was going to get the tech to secure a copy of my lab results and she would mail them to me. She did confirm she already had the specialty test.
Early this morning I received another call from the assistant. She said they got a copy of my labs and one of the results mandated an increase in medication. She was calling it in to the pharmacy. I asked why the labs were lost. She said there was a problem with their electronic system and they were not really lost, they just didn’t come through.
So – What if I had not called them? What if this were a much more serious situation that needed immediate attention? I know I am a very detailed, organized person and I realize others do not work at the same standards as I do. However, if I had not called it would have been five months before my next appointment. At the six week point no one had noticed my labs were never reported to my records. This concerns me.
I realize some do not embrace patient involvement, but if I had not been involved no one would have noticed the labs were missing from my records and no one would have identified an issue that required a medication change.
This is an issue of trust for me and it emphasizes the critical necessity for patient involvement in every aspect of their healthcare. It begs the question – what now?