"I don't just read Pulse, I adore it." --Donald Berwick MD
I'm no stranger to dealing with the medical world and its billing systems. I'm a triple cancer survivor, had knee surgery in 2012 and now have ulcerative colitis. All told, I've had eleven surgeries and fourteen colonoscopies. Paperwork is practically my middle name.
But the last twenty-four hours have been ridiculous.
In that time, I've had three different encounters with healthcare billing--each absurd in its own way, and each more challenging than the last. Things got to where I almost had to laugh. And if almost $10,000 of my money hadn't been at stake, I would have.
Yesterday morning and early afternoon were punctuated by the following events:
Mr. Dwyer isn't my patient, but today I'm covering for my partner in our family-practice office, so he's been slipped into my schedule.
Reading his chart, I have an ominous feeling that this visit won't be simple.
A tall, lanky man with an air of quiet dignity, Mr. Dwyer is eighty-eight. His legs are swollen, and merely talking makes him short of breath.
He suffers from both congestive heart failure and renal failure. It's a medical catch-22: when one condition is treated and gets better, the other condition gets worse. His past year has been an endless cycle of medication adjustments carried out by dueling specialists and punctuated by emergency-room visits and hospitalizations.
Kendra Fleagle Gorlitsky
Are you going to take that long with all the patients?
Depends. If they're really sick, I'll have to.
I'm just saying…there are a lot waiting.
Well, this one tried to kill herself last year. And today she's really hurting.
I wanted a full physical, and I heard this is just a check-up, but I've been waiting over two hours!
Could you put this gown on, please. What are you worried about?
I can't find work that doesn't make me lift, but I can't lift.
Can you swim?
What was your favorite job?
a treasury of compelling stories and poems.
Includes The Resilient Heart , Babel: The Voices of a Medical Trauma and Confessions of a Seventy-Five-Year-Old Drug Addict. Foreword by Maureen Bisognano, President of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
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