Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Real Medical Mysteries

So, remember that bill for $2,700 I received recently?

About a week ago I called the medical center that housed the emergency room I had gone to. I requested an itemized list of the charges, including diagnostic codes.

The bill arrived at my parent's home in Miami today. My mother called me late this afternoon to tell me what was listed on the bill: among other things, a charge for an x-ray, which I never had done. Not surprising, since it was done in 2005 and I didn't even step foot onto the medical center until May of this year.

That’s when my mother noticed the a name on the page that wasn’t mine, as well as an address that wasn’t mine, and an insurance company, also not mine.

Forget that I’m being billed over twice what I probably owe the hospital, I am absolutely furious that this woman’s medical information got mailed out to strangers. I cannot stress enough how much I believe in the right of a patient to keep his or her medical records confidential. It falls under the realm of your person, this is information about your body and you should have absolute control over how or if this information is released. It is sacred.

Because my charges and her charges are combined I cannot tell how extensively the medical center has fucked up yet. There are duplicate diagnostic codes with disparate costs; there are also charges that don’t make sense, if they are truly mine.

There is a charge for a pregnancy test, if this was really performed with my urine I did not consent, nor was I informed that the test was done.

There are numerous charges for oral medication, I received two pills, an analgesic and an antibiotic. One of the medications billed for is abbreviated as PNL; my mother suggested that this was penicillin. I have no idea, but if it did turn out to be penicillin the charge would be for a drug to which I am allergic, as indicated on my medical history. It’s a wild guess, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if it was true.

I’m usually hesitant to call up organizations and complain, it’s not something I’m good at generally, but this time I can’t wait. You can bet your ass, I’m going to nail some motherfuckers to the wall by their scrotum and enjoy every damn minute of it.

One of my secret dreams is to become more involved in health care advocacy, although I have no idea how. I feel I have already gone too far in biology to be of any use on the policy side of public health. But nothing pisses me off more than medical fuckups.


edluv said...

"I’m going to nail some motherfuckers to the wall by their scrotum and enjoy every damn minute of it."

so, you're assuming that they are men? now who's putting the ceiling in place that's keeping you down?

i know, i know, it's a metaphor.

Ann Thrope said...

Hm, so when exactly might I expect the novelty of the strawfeminist to wear off?

g said...

No joke about the advocacy; sorry about your trouble.

I just had a hearing with CCS in Oakland the other day where the State sent some dickwad neurologist out who had no knowledge or involvement with any of the principal parties of the case. Not only was she completely ignorant of all facts in the case (though mysteriously still 'qualified' to have her diagnosis regarded as expert opinion), but she came to admit under cross examiniation (thank God for (my) advocacy) that her performance evaluation depended on denying services in the case, and moreover, that the former neurologist assigned to the case was reassigned because he would not consent to presenting the agency's diagnosis as his own.

Of course, your matter is entirely different. The point is, without taking these health care demagogues to task with a bitter kick to the metaphorical testicles, they figure their Pinnochio cocks will grow even bigger for each fuck-up, mistake, corpse, or lie they sow (and get away with). Just all want to be 'real boys'.

Anyway, since their records "clearly" show you being billed for meds that you're allergic to, I suggest you mention your intention to sue the shit out of them on the grounds that they, in point of fact and through their own ineptitude (at least according to their records), nearly killed you or at least caused the prolongation of your illness. I find that such reasonable threats of liability help clear the chaff from invoices quite quickly.

Anyway, "hi", it has been awhile.


Adam's aunt becca said...

I've been in healthcare administration for over ten years. I know exactly what you are going through as a patient, as a consumer and as a professional working on the business side of medicine. It's very frustrating.

I'd be more than happy to help or offer suggestions if you want to call me. Adam will give you my phone number.

Ann Thrope said...

G - Hi.

Becca - Thanks, I appreciate the offer. I keep joking to Adam that the next time I see you I'm going to apologize for all the time I spent in the bathroom when we met for coffee. That was actually the weekend before I ended up in the E.R.

edluv said...

i'll never give up on my weak attempts at humor. it's a hit or miss proposition. sometimes they're a well timed, cleverly worded critique. or times, they're read as hurtful attacks on family. and some other times, they're just lame. you've got to get them out there to know.

Ruthann said...

Hi E, just read about your troubles and hope you can get it all figured out. I've had a fair amount of experience with the medical community and on the one hand it's such a relief they are there, on the other it can be a nightmare when it all goes wrong! Good luck.