Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Professional Courtesy

An uninsured patient of mine recently underwent a colonoscopy. She's not a wealthy woman. She probably makes under $10 per hour.

She's uninsured. Due to some problems she's been having the colonoscopy was necessary. So she's paying out of pocket. Big price tag, shallow pocket.

She had it last week. I got the report, some mild abnormalities but thankfully no sign of what we were hoping not to find.

She called today to ask me for the results. Due to the mild abnormality, I asked her to call the GI office to inquire about results.

She said, "His office told me to call you for results."

You can charge her full price for a colonoscopy, but you can't call her? Classy, very classy...


Bruce said...

A close relative had a colonoscopy a few months ago. I asked to talk to the GI doctor after the procedure and was told to call the internist the following week to get the results! Very irritating. I persisted and the GI doctor talked to me. She was obviously not used to providing that level of service.

When did a colonoscopy become the procedural equivalent of the chest x-ray or the CBC?

PalMD said...

Hmph! Working at our walk-in teaching clinic, a woman came in with abdominal pain. Her internist had asked her to just come see us...turns out the patient is on a capitated HMO. I called her doc and she asked me to write for a CT, blood work,etc. I gave her a little piece of my mind. If you sign a deal with the devil, follow through...they are still your patients.

janemarieMD said...

Wow, this is dreadful! I am now feeling very grateful that the gastroenterologists to whom I send my patients provide the results of their studies to those patients, and send copies to me. This is just wrong, and I guess the result of the profit motive in American medicine.

Anonymous said...

Any gastroenterologist who pulled that trick would have had his or her last referral from me. As far as I'm concerned they bill for it, they give the results.
My all time favorite was the post-op patient from a "major" teaching hospital in our area who was told to call his PCP (me) for his postoperative fever and incisional drainage. Did I mention that this was on a Friday before a holdiay weekend? And send you a letter about what they did to the patient? Face it folks--professional courtesy as we knew it is dead.

mchebert said...

Yes, I don't like to beat up on specialists but some of them have an annoying way of leaving the details to the generalist. It is as if they think they are taking care of one organ system alone (say, the colon) and we take care of the patient. Since a colon can't speak, once they have dealt with it we get to explain it to the head, which is not part of their specialty field.

I have had frustrating experiences with GIs who see patients with abdominal pain, do a scope and a CT, find them normal and say, "it's not the GI system." I had one GI in my life who told me, "I can tell you that I can see nothing wrong but how can I tell you it's not the GI system? I don't know everything. There is always the possibility I missed something."

I will love that guy until the day I die.