My wife came home from work Monday evening in very severe pain. Required to help patients getting in and out of bed routinely on her shift, she had clearly pulled a muscle or multiple muscles in her back and had difficulty sleeping due to the discomfort. I suggested that she call the doctor first thing in the morning to be worked in for an emergency visit.
First thing in the morning she did so and went for her appointment after lunch. The doctor, an excellent professional who we both use as our family care physician, examined her, identified that in fact she had several pulls and ordered several days of bed rest with prescriptions to relax the muscles and help them heal. He told her to call in Thursday to determine if she was ready for regular duty or perhaps limited duty for a few addtional days. To this point all was smooth and well.
Yesterday came and we called his nurse, telling her that she was still quite uncomfortable but things were gradually improving. During the discussion it was agreed that she would stay home one more day, but then, since she was on the rotation for weekend work when the hospital is often understaffed, she could go back to work Saturday but with light duty limiting her weightlifting responsibilities. She was told that a physician's order would be prepared and we could pick it up in the afternoon. Since our doctor has regular hours Monday-Thursday, having it ready yesterday was critical; the office would then be closed until Monday.
After lunch we called to check and were told it wasn't ready but we would be called. Two hours later, at 3, I began to be concerned since the office would be closing in two hours. I decided to present myself and just wait. It's a good thing I did.
Entering the office I found a madhouse. The parking lot was jammed, new patients were trying to get in under Obamacare, and the staff was trying to explain all of the changes by law to people who had no idea what was happening. And when I identified myself to the receptionist and my reason for the visit, she informed me very directly that the doctor was overwhelmed today, he had been going non-stop since 7 a.m. and she didn't think the work notice would be ready. At this point I merely informed her that was an unacceptable answer and I guess I would just have to wait and catch the nurse or doctor before they went home. I couldn't depart without the necessary paperwork that had been promised.
Part of the problem, I assume, was that this lady was just a fill-in for the day and maybe didn't understand our arrangement but, in any case, she gave me the evil eye and went back behind closed doors and I assume discussed my request.
About twenty minutes later the office nurse, who knows me well since I like to tease her since her husband is also a rural farm boy like me, came out and asked me to come to the back. She was very gracious and said to just give her a few minutes and she would take care of things. When I asked her how her day was going she just rolled her eyes and said the new requirements, new patients who needed insurance confirmation, and the task of dotting every "I" and crossing every "T" in all that they do was mind-bending. Without her saying anything more, it was obvious that these good people were being tasked with voluminous new rules that have little to do with healthcare and everything to do with information gathering.
We were lucky today with our situation, but what about those who are suffering potentially fatal issues in a system that cares less for the patient and more for bureaucratic procedures and processes? It seems that new rules rules are being dreamed up by Washington types daily who have never even worked in the medical profession. I feel sorry for the good doctors and staff people who have studied hard and toiled hard to become successful in a most honorable profession only to find out that the federal government is determined to take away their initiative and the joy they receive out of truly practicing medicine.
If we Americans don't get busy and make sure this monster of a system now infecting our country isn't kicked to the curb we will have no one to blame but ourselves. It's time to turn back the clock and re-introduce private sector patient-centered healthcare and the doctor-patient relationship. If we don't, the best medical care in the world will be gone forever along with many fine practitioners of the art. Let's wake up and demand action to clean up this mess once and for all.