Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fax: Stranger Than Fiction

And the adventures of a reluctant patient continue. When I was last at the orthopaedic surgeon's office, I was told I needed four things: an X-Ray before the next ortho appt., the film or disk of the X-Ray, an appt. to see the ortho again, and then to go to the place where the CAM boot will be fitted and then given to me. In my Norco-induced haze, I attempted to communicate through the pain that I can only return one time. ONCE. I cannot drive, as my right leg is non-weight-bearing. I am an hour and a half away one way. I have to rely on my friend to take me, who also has a life (and three children) of her own. No way could I possibly return three or four times. Please, could this all be handled on one day?

After some argument, which mainly fell on my deaf ears, due to the narcotics and the nausea and the pain, I reiterated that I would only be able to return once. How could this please be accomplished? It was explained to me that the cast cannot be taken off without X-Rays first. The ortho is not allowed to take the X-Rays because I have an HMO, even though I passed a door at the ortho's office that said, "DO NOT ENTER, X-RAY IN PROGRESS."

My PCP, through my HMO, must authorize the X-Ray, and would likely prefer to do it at their own facility on a separate day from the ortho appt., and then will take a day or two to process the film and then I would have to return to that facility to pick it up to take with me to the ortho appt. The other option I have is to beg the PCP to please, pretty please, with sugar on top, allow me to go to an imaging place nearby that has the ability to take the X-Ray the same day as the ortho appt. and put the X-Ray immediately online for the ortho to see. I was told by the girl at the ortho office that I need to explain the situation clearly and request earnestly that I be allowed to visit the imaging place on the same day as the ortho appt.

After I returned from the dr.'s appt. and settled in on the sofa, I called the PCP and explained the situation to the nurse, who sighed in frustration and explained to me that I was supposed to bring the piece of paper with the radiology exam request on it straight to their office, which was already an hour and a half away from me when I called. I asked if I could please fax the document to her attention, and she said I could, and that when she received it, she would ask the doctor what the doctor would like to do. I asked if the fax number was on their internet site, and she said it was.

I discovered that the fax number is NOT on their internet site, nor is it available through any google search. The next day, Friday, I called her office again, and asked for the fax number to reach the nurse. I was given a number, and thanked the person who provided it to me. That number woke up some nice lady twice this morning, who yelled through the phone that this was not a fax line. So I called the doctor's exchange today, and was transferred to Urgent Care, who gave me yet another fax number for the nurse. This number rings eternally. The doctor's exchange does not have the fax number. There is no e-mail address available anywhere, not even on the internet. A search for the owner of the medical group's domain was not helpful, as no fax numbers or e-mail addresses were provided there, either. Three subsequent attempts to have the doctor's exchange transfer me to Urgent Care were fruitless, as the single line she is given to transfer people to is constantly busy and she cannot take a message.

So I have this lovely fax that I wrote on official "me" letterhead, explaining the situation, pleading my case, and begging for mercy. And it will never see the light of day or be submitted to the perusal of a doctor or a nurse, because the medical group still functions technologically 100 years behind everyone else.

One more phone call to the Urgent Care was successful. They only have the wrong fax number also. BUT they provided their two fax numbers, and then when they receive the fax, they will interoffice mail it to the correct office. They explained that there is no e-mail address for their offices at all.


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