Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Changes Changes Changes

Sometimes change is a good thing.

About 8 weeks ago, two wisdom teeth started bothering me. They both hurt a lot causing me to take Tylenol every 6 hours to help relieve the pain. So I scheduled a visit to my dentist who determined that the time had come for those teeth to be removed. It took two weeks before I could get in to see the Oral Surgeon so I continued to take the Tylenol every 4 to 6 hours because the teeth were bothering me more and more. When we arrived at the Oral Surgeon and he agreed that the teeth needed to be removed, he told me that because when I had had one other wisdom tooth removed my Neurologist insisted it be done at the hospital. These wisdom teeth would have to be removed in the hospital as well. However, I explained to the Oral Surgeon that I had spent most of the day at the hospital for what turned out to be a less than 5 minute tooth extraction. The Oral Surgeon said that he would talk to my Neurologist and see what they could work out so that maybe I wouldn’t have to have the procedure done at the hospital. Especially because it appeared that both teeth could easily be removed using only local anesthetic.

After waiting about a week without hearing from the Oral Surgeon my wife P called their office and was told that the surgeon was still waiting to talk to my Neurologist. When P called the Neurologist office, the Neurologist staff told P that I would have to have the tooth extractions done at a hospital because of my health condition and that they had told the Oral Surgeons office that. When P asked why the Oral Surgeon office told us that the surgeon was still waiting to speak to my Neurologist they just repeated the statement that they had spoken to his office and told them I needed to be in the hospital for the procedure. A couple days later without hearing from the Oral Surgeon’s office P called them again and was once again told that the surgeon was waiting to speak to my Neurologist and when she called the Neurologist office, she was told that they had spoken to the Oral Surgeon’s office. After about 2 weeks of this, P came home one Thursday evening and told me to see if I couldn’t get the Neurologist and the Oral Surgeon to talk to each other.

On Friday morning I called the Neurologist office and asked to speak to my doctor’s nurse and was put through to the nurse’s voice messaging system. I left her a rather sternly worded message about being tired of getting the run around and that I would be calling her every 2 hours at 10:30, 12:30, 2:30 and if by 4:30 that Friday afternoon my Neurologist hadn’t spoken the Oral Surgeon, I was getting someone to drive me, in my wheelchair, with my ventilator and with enough oxygen, to their office on Monday and I would sit in their waiting room until my Neurologist talked to my Oral Surgeon. I also mentioned that I wasn’t impressed that their lack of action caused me, the ventilator dependant person to make this phone call. After leaving that message, I called the Neurologist office back and asked to speak to their chief surgeon or their office manager and left the same voice message on the office manager voice messaging system. About one hour later I received three phone calls from the Neurologist nurse, the office manager and one other person who I wasn’t certain what their responsibility was, all telling me that my Neurologist would talk to my Oral Surgeon that morning. Then shortly after lunch the Oral Surgeon office called telling me the two doctors had spoken to each other and could I come on Tuesday and have the teeth extracted in their office.

Even though this took a long time and a number of phone calls two of which I ended up making, my oral surgery was able to be done in the Oral Surgeon office instead of a hospital. This Change saved me money and it saved me a day at the hospital. In fact, I left the house at 1:40 PM and returned home a little before 3 PM. This was a good change.

A couple of days ago my nurse C. told me that he had accepted a job with a local hospital. It is a good move for him, one I am glad that he is taking. On the other hand this means that I will now have a new nurse. Having a new nurse means that I will have to get used to another person, I will have to get used another person’s methods of doing things and I will have to get used to another person’s personality. However, this is one of those changes that is not all bad.

A couple of days ago I received my order of trach collars to find that it contained 30 collars. For a long time I have ordered 40 trach collars at a time and sometimes use more then one a day, depending on how dirty they become. Imagine my surprise to find out that our Medical Supply Company has changed my profile limiting my trach collar order to 30 collars per month. When we called to question this change we were told that it was done because of our insurance company was refusing to pay for more trach collars a month. I have trouble believing this because the insurance company has always paid for everything I have ordered. I wrote our insurance company asking them if they have placed a limit on my medical supplies and they wrote back stating that they have not placed any limits on my medical supplies.

Then yesterday we received our order of trach cleaning kits. When we opened the box we found that they were the wrong cleaning kits. However when we called the Medical Supply Company office the person we talked to told us that my order profile had been changed and that there wasn’t anything he could do about changing the profile back again. When we pushed for a reason why my profile had been changed and we had not been notified, we were once again told it was because of my insurance company not paying for the kits I have been receiving for the past 5 years which the insurance company has always paid for.

First thing this morning, I wrote an email to the Medical Supply Company home office detailing this course of events. In my email I did not use offensive language; I stated what had happened to me and then made a number of requests. I requested my profile be changed back its original products and order amounts. I requested that they at their expensive send me a detailed report of all of my insurance claims, Items billed and payments made in order to verify that my insurance company has been paying or has been refusing to pay as I had been told. I ended the email by requesting a meeting with local Medical Supply Company manager.

I sent the email shortly after 8:00 AM to the Medical Supply Company home office and at 11:00 AM the local Medical Supply Company manager called to tell me that the wrong Trach cleaning kits had been sent by mistake and that the correct ones would be sent out today. The manager also changed the amount of trach collars I could order at one time back to the shipping level they were last December.

I have no idea who made the mistake; I have no idea if my profile had been changed as we were told yesterday. I am just glad that I will once again be receiving the trach cleaning kits I have always received.

With all of the issues with medical supply companies, billing mistakes, insurance payment mistakes, Doctor Office appointment mistakes, doctor office billing mistakes. I am getting rather good at writing letters explaining what I think are mistakes, and requesting corrective actions be taken. But I must say that the number of problems I have experienced dealing the medical provider system doesn’t put it in a good light. In my opinion, the medical provider system needs to work harder at improving their level of service. Do you have any idea the amount of wasted dollars these mistakes must cost everyone? Also the amount of pain and suffering these constant mistakes cost the patients.


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