Wednesday, May 26, 2010

All the Right Answers

I finally feel like I'm not as naive and helpless as I once was, when it comes to doctors and hospitals and the like.

Call me a slow learner. I know. It's taken me a while to get the hang of things.

But at last, I think I'm ahead of the learning curve, having reached a new level of competence and confidence when it comes to dealing with the health care system, knowing what information to ask for, and what question they will ask. It is good to be prepared.

When a doctor gives you a note or an order saying that you are to take your child for testing, there are certain questions that should be asked:

1. Is this a walk in place, or do I need to set up an appointment?

Usually a blood draw is just to a lab and you walk in and do it and are out of there in 15 minutes or less.

For a different type of test, you might have a "come anytime" situation. But if the test, however simple, is to be performed in a HOSPITAL, one needs to call and be on the phone for an interminable amount of time to pre-register for the walk-in procedure. That would have been last week when I took Eric for his X-Rays.

2. If the receptionist at the doctor's office says: "You are all set", what she really means is: You need to call the hospital and ask several questions, get pre-registered and be on the phone for an interminable amount of time with at least three different people in two different departments before they will know you and/or your child actually exist.

3. If you ask the receptionist who supposedly got you "all set" whether there were any special instructions such as not eating, or howling at the moon, which must be performed before said test can be accomplished, and she says "no, you are good to go!", do not believe her. What she really means is that you should call the hospital and find a person who actually works in the department where the test will be performed (such as for a sleep deprived EEG or an MRI) and ask THEM what special instructions might be. Such people will tell you to wake your kid up between 12 and 4 am and keep them awake without caffeiene or chocolate until the 9 am EEG so that they are incoherent at the time of the test. This means that not only is it a sleep deprived EEG for the kid, it's also a sleep deprived day for one lucky parent.

4. Despite all efforts at pre-registration, if one is pre-registering for TWO procedures at once, one has to talk to at least two different people in the same department and go through the same information twice.

5. None of this is any sort of guarantee that many of the above mentioned steps won't have to be repeated on the actual day of the procedure/s. So, it behooves to arrive a few minutes before the scheduled test time, just in case.

6. The question: "Your daughter's social?" is not an inquiry into her autism and social skills abilities, but rather a request for her social security number. (Hangs head in embarrassment after regaling the poor registrar with a litany of daughter's abilities....sigh.) Not so suave after all, I guess.


Hezra said...

oh dear. al too true. I know too. and the social question? THAT is what happens when one is sleep deprived, stressed and having to deal with medical people... so sorry. I have done it too, just with different things!

Ruth said...

#6 is priceless! That's exactly the sort of thing I would do.

elizabeth said...

yeah... I would do that too... sigh. in canada social security number is called

social insurance number

or SIN for short.

don't want to think too much about confusing this one :)

Anonymous said...

Even I in the health profession appreciate this 'heads up'. I think I'll pass it along to a nursing supervisor... . It's a little funny for me because I think I know what the receptionist should be asking, but it's like 'soash' and it takes a few minutes to think what terminology they're using that could mean the same thing that I'm thinking they should be asking. They look at me, and smile, and I smile back, and say, 'hold on a second, let me think about that one for a second' or 'maybe the answer will come to me if you ask it a different way?'

Tabitha said...

How about this one...this morning I packed up the two little ones (which required getting the baby UP from his unusually early nap). I stopped by my oldest son's school to drop off a homework book that I told him 3 times to put in his backpack (evidently he did, he just didn't think to close his pack and carry it RIGHT side up!). Scurried into the Health Department for baby's WIC appointment. Was asked for proof of income and handed them his medical card (which has always been adequate in the past). Was told that now that he is one year old he is on KCHIP and I will have to bring in paystubs proving our monthly income. Explain that paystubs range dramatically from x$ to 2x$ depending on hours and type of work. Am told to bring in tax forms and am rescheduled for another appointment when I will get to pack up the two little ones and drive into town again! I need a degree in Mind Reading.