I recently had to go in for a “ surgical” procedure. It was a standard diagnostic test that once again open my eyes to some of the problems with our medical care. I should first say that the majority of doctors and healthcare providers are excellent at what they do. Are there things that can be done to make this care better? Absolutely!
I wanted to schedule my procedure for the first one in the morning. As a result, I had to schedule this for a month and a half out so that I could be the first one to be seen by the doctor. This was fine with me because I did not want to have to wait after getting to the surgical facility.
I was first contacted by the finance department of the hospital to go over my insurance coverage. I was told that due to my coverage, my deductible and co-pay, that this procedure would cost me $1,800 out-of-pocket. I was quite surprised and asked how much the total procedure was and was advised that the caller did not know but guess that it was somewhere between $10,000 and $13,000. I informed the caller that I had to have the procedure done, so I would have to pay my out-of-pocket expense.
The finance department of the hospital later contacted me, and the caller advised me that she once again checked with my insurance company and now determined that since this was a wellness visit that I would be charged nothing out of pocket. I asked the caller why this was not told to me before, and she could not answer this question.
On the morning of my procedure, I arrived at the facility at 7:30 AM and was brought back to be prepped at 7:45 AM. I was told that I would probably be brought in earlier than my 8:15 AM appointment, which was perfectly fine with me. After waiting more than 1/2 an hour, I inquired about the holdup and was told that I was the second scheduled procedure and that the first procedure took longer than expected.
I advised the nurse that I specifically requested the first appointment of the day, and the nurse was rather abrupt and said I don't know what to tell you, and I can't tell you when the doctor will see you. My experience has been that generally, the staff at doctor's offices are less than cordial, less than helpful, and border on being rude.
Once the doctor came back to speak with me, close to 9 AM, he apologized and said that his first appointment was more complicated than he expected, which resulted in the delay. I asked him how this would impact the people who had appointments in the afternoon, and he told me, "they were screwed.” I also told him that I was supposed to be the first appointment of the day, and he said to me that he was not in charge of scheduling.
Many of my personal injury clients have also advised me that they get less than professional care and service from their healthcare providers. They wait for excessive periods see the doctor and then the doctor visits with them very briefly and does not answer their questions. This happens far more frequently than it should and causes me to make the following suggestions:
As a patient, you should always schedule your doctor's appointment for the first one in the morning so that there is no delay resulting from the people ahead of you;
You should advise your doctor's office that if there is ever a long delay that you be contacted telephonically and told of the length of time that your appointment would be delayed so you can determine whether or not you can keep your appointment based upon your other scheduled tasks;
You should always write down all of the questions that you wish to ask your doctor before your appointment. You should make sure that each of those questions are answered and that you understand what is being told to you. If you are ever uncertain as to the answer you should ask that question again;
If you ask your doctor a question about how long your medical care will take the answer you will probably get is we have to wait and see or depends upon how your body reacts to the treatment you are receiving. The better question to ask is, if you take 100 people with the same injury that you have sustained, how long will it take 50% of those people to recover fully;
When your doctor gives you several different options after you ask a question, you should then say to the doctor; if I were your son, or brother, or father ( based upon your age and gender), what would you recommend I do and why. This very personalized question will generally elicit a very different response, and the doctor will probably tell you what option he or she would have chosen for their relative;
You should always take another person with you to each medical appointment, who we refer to as your healthcare advocate. This person can assist you in taking notes, in helping to get your questions answered, and can help act as your advocate; and
You should not leave your doctor's office until you write down all of the answers to the questions that you pose to your doctor while inside the office. You should also have a clear understanding as to the plan moving forward with your medical care and treatment.
If you have any problems or questions about your particular personal injury case, we would be happy to provide you with a complimentary strategy session where we will review the facts of your specific case, will tell you about the issues present, and will advise you as to what you should be doing to help maximize the amount of money that you can obtain for your Connecticut personal injury or accident case.
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