Failure to Diagnose

A woman contacted me yesterday highly frustrated because she has been trying for seven months to get a diagnosis and so far — nuttin’.

She asked me about it because she had just visited a specialist, and his first question to her had been “why are you here?” Turns out, the referral was made by her Primary Care Physician — but no paperwork had ever been sent by the PCP to the specialist.

It was not the first time that had happened. Other specialists had asked her the same thing. She wanted to know how she could prevent that from happening again. Further, she was being sent for duplicate tests because the specialists didn’t have any records to realize she had already had those same tests.

Is this not a PERFECT example of why we patients need to take responsibility for our own medical situations? How ironic that the inability to get a diagnosis may be the result of bad customer service, and not bad medicine! And what if whatever is wrong with her is beyond a cure now — only because of the lack of record sharing?

I can’t help with a diagnosis — I’m not a medical professional. BUT — I suggested she get in touch with all the doctors she has seen during these past several months and request copies of her medical records, including all test results. She has promised to gather them all together — then she’ll get in touch with me again. Once we have them all, we’ll begin putting together a notebook that goes with her everywhere — a journal of her quest for a diagnosis which she can share with every professional she sees.

Sharp patients trust only themselves to handle these details. We don’t have medical knowledge, but we do have organizational skills. And I have to wonder about sloppy customer service which is, clearly, what she’s been receiving from her PCP.

If it were me? I’d be looking for a new PCP — one who knows how to follow through in the interest of his/her patients. It’s called voting with our feet.

Posted in: Doctor Communication, Medical Errors / Mistakes / Misdiagnosis, Patient Advocacy

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