Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Tales of My Personal Frustrations - Episode #1

The east wall at Dr. McJoke -- where none of these contraptions were used during my visit.

It’s been awhile since I have written anything in this blog, so let’s make up for some lost time and allow me to vent a little bit about frustration.  We all get frustrated – sometimes it over some of the dumbest things, such as when someone cutting you off and stealing your parking space, or going to the store and forgetting to pick up the item that you went to get in the first place, and even something like not being able to beat your best Pathwords score on Facebook can frustrate you..  Me – I get frustrated when I look at what my doctor is charging for an office call and spending two hours on the phone with DirecTV that could have been solved during the first five minutes of my phone call to them.

Recently, I spent a couple of days in the hospital because the pain in my back got so bad that I literally could not walk.  I had to have an ambulance take me to the hospital – which is a little humiliating, because it’s not some life or death reason that I had to go to the hospital – I was simply in so much pain that I couldn’t walk.  I could imagine what some of my neighbors were thinking when they saw an ambulance parked in our driveway and the gossip that they were spreading around to the other neighbors and even family members – and that kind of justified the cost of what the ambulance company was going to charge me for this trip to the hospital.

I have nothing bad to say about my hospital visit.  Not too long after I got there – they shipped me down to X-ray where they took about five or six pictures of my back and then it was back to the emergency room.  In the emergency room – I was given a shot for the pain and the warned me ahead of time that this shot would help with the pain and I would feel it….and they were right.  I have never really dabbled in the drug scene in the 60s and 70s – but if they would have had stuff like this shot back then – I would have signed up for getting wasted and fried back then.  This shot that they gave me in the hospital was great – it’s too bad they didn’t provide loud rock music and a light show to go with it – but then everyone would be going to the emergency room, right?  I know that the tuna sandwich that they gave me in the emergency room was the best tuna sandwich that I have ever had – could it have been that shot they gave me?

After going over the X-rays and the blood that they took from me they decided they were going to keep me – so, I got a nice room to myself on the fifth floor at Port Huron Hospital.  For two days – I stayed in my hospital bed watching television with an IV pumping fluids in me.  And just like any hospital visit – every time that you close your eyes and go to sleep – a nurse will come in to give you some meds or, in my case, shoot some steroids in my IV line.  It was on the second day when they saw me walk down the hall with my cane like I never had any pain in my back at all that the hospital gave me my walking papers to go home.  The hospital readjusted the meds that I had been taking and advised me to see my family doctor within a week…it’s when I went to my family doctor that the frustration began. 

Unlike the medical shows on television – my family doctor is no “McDreamy” – but he’s quickly becoming a “McJoke” and I’m really questioning where I should continue to see him after this last visit.  This visit really wasn’t a whole lot different that my usual visits with him – except – he went over the diagnosis and findings that they hospital sent over to him.  We went over the blood work that I had done a week before (which is something we do every ninety days or so) and he told me that the X-rays at the hospital showed that I have degenerative arthritis and some nasty spurs on my vertebrae – plus I was suffering from dehydration.  The hospital also recommended that I sign up for some therapy and that was the extent of the whole visit to my doctor.  Then – I get the bill!

My doctor’s normal office visit is $125 – PLUS – there’s a charge of $20 for an A1C test and $5 for then to take a glucose reading of my blood (which I already did at home an hour or so before I got it his office, but naturally they can’t accept that reading).  All of these charges come as no surprise to me – it’s what comes next that gave rise to my blood pressure and becoming outright pissed.

Along with all of the charges above – I am also charged an additional $150 – why?  The official explanation goes as follows:  “Prolong Physician service in the office or other outpatient facility requiring direct (face-to-face) patient contact beyond the usual service”. 

When I called his office and talked to the billing department – she, like the good solider that she is, told me that Doctor McJoke thought that this visit was different than previous visits.  I told her it wasn’t longer than any of my past visits and he really didn’t do that much except go over the hospitals diagnosis and give me a script for physical therapy.  The woman in billing said that when Doctor McJoke went over the hospital report – he felt that he was spending more time with me than he normally does and according to his rules or what ever, he can charge extra.  The billing manager sounded a little pissed when I asked her if I should bring a stopwatch on my next visit with to see Doctor McJoke.  She pretty much told me in her official capacity as the head of billing for Doctor McJoke that there really wasn’t much I could do about the extra charge and that’s when frustration set in.

There is something that I can do about it.  One, I can confront Dr. McJoke the next time that I come in to see him and piss him off because I’m bringing up what I have to pay him for his services.  Or two, I can tell Dr. McJoke to kiss my ass and I can find another doctor who’s a little more compassionate about his or her patient’s concerns.  That’s the decision that I have got to make, but in the meantime, I just get more and more frustrated when I think about this whole ordeal.

Next:  Frustration #2 – Dealing with DirecTV.

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