Friday, July 1, 2016

My recent encounter with human healthcare

I have joked with my husband that there must be an alert on my file with doctors.  Sometimes, some places I've worked at have put a special indicator on files, either because the dog bites or the person is "an acquired taste" or sometimes it will be bluntly posted "PITA" or "don't bend over backwards for this person."  I have a lengthy history with the human medical field and misdiagnosis.  I kind of learned some, "what not to do with bedside manners" and "it's better to not know an answer than to make one up."

Most of the time being high maintenance is a good thing, you get answers from people and you protect yourself.  There have been multiple times where I have caught mistakes and I know that when someone is asking questions and being proactive it can help in the ultimate outcome.  The third leading cause of death in the US is medical error.  That's rather sad, but for a variety of reasons it happens.  That's why if you ever have concerns, don't be afraid to speak up.  Caring doctors, nurses and veterinarians don't have a problem talking through things and making sure all their i's are dotted and t's are crossed.

I've been having some issues lately and thought (as well as my doctor, my friend who is a doctor  and a specialist) that I could have had kidney stones.  I was in immense pain, but did I go to the ER?  No, my experience with ERs kind of scared me away.  From medical mishaps, to waiting for hours, I will try to avoid the ER.  I was almost wishing today though that I was a dog.  As I told my husband, if I was a dog, I would have received more prompt, efficient treatment.  Instead, I'm a human, navigating a bureaucracy.  My doctor last night told me I needed a scan to rule out kidney stones.  I called first thing this morning and got an appointment with a physicians assistant.  She said, no, I don't think you have kidney stones, but I'd like you to see the urologist, and if you can't, let me give you a big shot of something because you look like you're really sick.  Comforting.  I then waited and felt like junk in the waiting room of the urologist, feeling fortunate they could squeeze me in.  The urologist went back to the original, "I think it's a kidney stone but you should probably go to the ER because you will get everything taken care of a lot faster."  In my experience, ER and fast are not two things that go together.

Anyways, I got to thinking of how veterinary medicine is more efficient.  Of course, we don't have human health insurance and all the paperwork that goes with it, but we also are trained as doctors to not punt everything to someone else.  Unfortunately, veterinary medicine is changing away from this "general practitioner" model and into a "punt to the next person model."  Sure, I like punting my surgery cases and really frustrating cases to specialists.  There is a role for specialists, but there is also something to say about efficiently managing a case and not making people go to the ER to not have to wait in a waiting room (Newsflash: they will still wait in a waiting room).

So, while I will wish I was a dog and could get efficient healthcare from a veterinarian, I also recall times where I run late because of a difficult case or trying to squeeze someone in and my patients and clients have to wait.  I will also try to remember quite often I don't know and can't find out the answer and that's why medicine is an art and not a science.  Hopefully, like 30% of my patients who don't have a diagnosis, I will just go ahead and get better on my own, independent of having an "answer".

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