When I read the following Facebook post from my friend Aviva Romm, MD, it struck me that if a Yale-trained physician who works with Mark Hyman, MD has this much trouble getting the kind of medical care we all deserve, we have a bigger problem than I even realized. Fair or not, usually doctors get easier access to health care than those outside of our field. As a professional courtesy, we tend to wait less, get squeezed in emergently, have easier access to communication with our physicians, and even pay less money sometimes. (We don’t necessarily get better health care because doctors tend to overfuss over other doctors, but that’s a whole other story. Don’t even get me started on my own childbirth experience!)
But I digress. Reading Aviva’s story inspired me to share it with you, not only because I hope it lights a fire under you to join the revolution to heal health care, but because I want you to realize that if you’ve ever felt disempowered in the doctor’s office, you’re not alone. Even doctors feel this way sometimes.
Take it away, Aviva!
This week I had to be a patient. I was having some strange abdominal symptoms and finally decided it was time to have a check up. It took me 2 weeks to get in with a doctor and I finally had to have a friend get me in because the more open minded docs in the area aren’t taking new patients. I then had an appointment with a nurse practitioner who barely ever looked at me (I finally made her laugh and she eventually connected.) Instead, her eyes were fixed on the electronic medical record the whole time. I was seated in a very low chair, and she was on a stool that was at its highest position, so I felt like a child physically – not really a power position! The exam was incomplete (my abdomen was never palpated!) and done improperly and all that was done was to turf me to the next level of care – an ultrasound. I had to ask for the lab tests that were appropriate to create a meaningful differential diagnosis (thyroid, anemia, etc).
It was unclear when I’d be able to get in for the ultrasound, but I was able to pull the “I’m a doctor” card, and they got me in within hours. After a very painful transvaginal ultrasound and a not painful abdominal ultrasound with the tech, who was very nice and seemed thorough, making some slightly concerned faces and looking at some areas for longer than usual (I’m a doc, so I know how long things should generally take to examine), I was told it might be 48 hours before I heard results. 48 hours? The radiology suite at the local community hospital was empty and there’s a radiologist in there! Read More→