Thursday, October 21, 2010

A REAL Stress Test

Zane had a strep test last week when he went to the doctor. Since we didn't think that he had strep, we sort of forgot about it. But we kept getting calls from the lab to call them back for the results. Twice a day, they were calling.

"This is the LAB, we have your son's test results, please call," they said. At first I didn't think too much about it, because I knew that he didn't have strep. But since they KEPT calling, I started to get paranoid about it. What if my son is like me and never has any symptoms of strep? I barely ever even got a fever! What if he's infected his entire class with it because we were bad parents and sent him back to school? I decided that I just couldn't live with the guilt and the possible litigation.

So finally I called. Or rather, I tried to call. "For our Village Drive office, press 1, for our Stone Oak office, press 3, for our..." I pressed a number. " talk to Dr. Blah's assistant, press 1...Dr. Yada-Yada’s assistant, Dr. OMG's assistant, press 2. Dr. WTF's assistant, press 3..."

There's at least 10 doctors at this practice and they ALL have assistants, plus a nurse practitioner, plus the billing department, plus the referral department, plus the scheduling department...I started to feel like someone was reading me a Dr. Suess book.

Five minutes later I realize that the machine never said anything about a lab department, so I pressed 0, which you are supposed to do to get to the operator...and the machine said "Goodbye" and cut me off. ACK!!! I called back again, thinking that I had dozed off somewhere and missed the extension for the lab. I had to do it a third time just because I got just past the middle of the message, somewhere near the sixth doctor's assistant, and couldn't recall the beginning of the message and I thought I may have selected the wrong office branch. By now I was a bit peeved; I hate talking on the phone in the first place, but I especially hate talking to a machine.

I FINALLY just hit a random button and then a person FINALLY answered and asked if they could help me. I asked for the lab. They put me on hold and I had to listen to a smarmy woman's voice doing some sort of commercial instead of listening to muzak. I started to nod off again, which is reason #478 why I don't try to use my phone while driving.

At last a person who worked in the lab answered the phone. I explained who I was and what I wanted to know. You want to know what was so goshdarn important that they called us 7 times in the past week? They wanted me to know that the test was negative!!! Really? I sort of lost it a little bit, I am afraid.

I wasn't rude(okay, I was certainly a bit snarky), but I asked the person why they couldn't just tell us that on the machine, since they know it's our phone number, and they know that we know it's our phone number. I told her the truth, that all those phone messages made me think that my child had Ebola, and that wasn't really necessary for anybody's health. The lab person was nice enough to explain that HIPAA was responsible for the phone calls and that they weren't allowed to tell us our test results over the phone. I had taken a deep breath at this point and calmed down a bit, so I could tell her that I understood(which I didn't) and thank you.

See, THAT experience should be the one they use to test your stress for your heart. That treadmill is a cakewalk compared to being a parent.

1 comment:

  1. yet another hipaa over-reaction -- if the patient gives permission, you can leave results on any phone line they request. Grrrrrrr.


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