Thursday, October 06, 2016

What The Hell Does Somebody Have To Do To Get Some Goddamned Levothyroxin Around Here?

Anybody have any recommendations for doctors in Socorro or Albuquerque? (Or somewhere in-between?) I think I've just hit the absolute last straw with Socorro General Medical Group and their incompetent administrative staff. Which, admittedly, I should have done after the time my doctor told them three weeks in advance that she wanted to reschedule my surgery, and they didn't bother calling me until a few days beforehand. (At which point my boss already had every one on an altered work schedule to accommodate my absence, and my mother was packing to fly out to stay with me.) Then, of course, there was the time they submitted the wrong version of a fantastically expensive and time-sensitive drug and ignored my insurance company's repeated attempts to check whether that was what they really wanted. Or the multiple times they sent me repeat prescriptions for drugs I was only supposed to take once. Or the time they made me an appointment with a nurse after I insisted, several times, that I wanted to see an actual doctor. Or... Well, yeah, you get the idea.

Today's saga, just because I have to vent about it somewhere:

Over the weekend I noticed I was low on my thyroid pills and submitted a refill request to Wallmart (which is now the only pharmacy in town, something that comes with its own share of suck, but never mind that now). There's a note that they have to confirm the refill with my doctor, which might take an extra day. They're supposed to text me when it's ready, but for the next three days, I hear nothing. When I check, the automated phone menu and website say the refill order doesn't exist. I try putting it in again. Nothing. I call back today to check it again, and the computer tells me the pharmacy wants to speak with me. They tell me the refill has been refused by my doctor.

I call the doctors' office. The woman I talk to -- who sounds like she has no idea what she's doing, and ums and ers and reads things aloud to herself under her breath like she's trying hard to understand them and immediately has to go and "ask the nurse" about something -- tells me the refill was refused because it's been more than six months since I had my thyroid levels checked. It has been five and a half months, but OK, it's reasonable that they might not want to order the refill until it's been checked again. Now, the doctor whose name is on the prescription isn't there any more; she left a few months ago. This is all too familiar, as this practice has a constant revolving door of physicians (which is another strike against it). I'm told that one of the new doctors will have to see me before they can order blood tests or refill my pills. Which is also reasonable; doctors don't want to order tests or drugs for people they haven't seen in person. But the problem is that because they never bothered to inform me of this when they got the refill request four days ago, I am now out of pills. I just took my last one.

Now, when they do the blood test, what they're testing is whether the medication is working properly, or whether the dosage needs to be adjusted. If the levels are where they should be when I'm on the medication, it's fine. If they're off, we probably need to change it. But that only works if you do the test when I've been taking the pills. So, after the woman offers me an appointment on Monday so we can do the blood test sometime later, I explain to her why this is a problem, and ask her if the doctor is aware that I'm out of pills. She just repeats that she's going to make me an appointment for Monday and the policy is that I can't get a blood test or the pills until then. Yes, I say, but is a doctor aware that this is going to be a problem? Can she talk to them and see what they have to say about it? She can't talk to them, she says. They're all in rooms with patients. OK, can she talk to them when they have a free moment and maybe give me a call back? No, she's not going to do that. She will make me an appointment for Monday. Yes, I say, but the doctor really should be aware of this. Does the doctor know I'm out of medication? She assumes the doctors know, she says. They probably aren't going to do anything differently. (Although, in my experience, the doctors themselves are generally very good at being flexible and accommodating, and, in any case, they should be warned about the problem.) "Probably," I say. "You assume. That means you don't know. Can you check?" No, she's not going to do that. This is the policy. I sigh and ask if there is someone else I can speak to. "Yes," she says, "But they're just going to tell you the same thing."

She transfers me. I explain the situation again, and about the other person's refusal to help. Oh, yes, says the new person, they can absolutely check with a doctor when one is free, and will give me call back before noon.

Someone calls me back before noon and says that, actually, one of the doctors has a free slot this afternoon, and I can come in at 2:45 so she can see me so I can get the blood test. Hooray!

An hour later, someone else calls me, and tells me that one of the doctors is putting in a 60-day refill order for me, and I just have to make sure to make an appointment before the pills run out. "Great! I say. Um, does that mean I shouldn't come to the appointment today?" The guy sounds befuddled. "They made you an appointment?" He checks. Turns out, the person they made the appointment with doesn't even take my insurance. So, yeah, let's cancel that. I should just make an appointment later, he says. I tell him, uh, I think I may actually want to see a different doctor, instead, and ask about what I need to do to transfer my medical records. So now, I guess, I need to find a new doctor in the next 60 days.

And, man, I really, really hope they actually send that prescription in. I won't be remotely surprised if they don't.

4 comments:

  1. I'm surprised you call the callback as promised. Everything else is pretty much as expected.

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    1. I think the problem is, they've got some perfectly nice, competent people, but also one or two who... well, let's say who should really not be in this particular line of work. But that's all you need to royally screw things up for everybody.

      Anyway, I'm done. I hate change, and I hate having to deal with the uncertainty of making changes, but I just can't keep on with these people. I don't trust them, you know? I keep thinking, what if they get something wrong, or fail to communicate important information, or get obstructionist like this when it's something medically crucial?

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  2. Hey, have you found a new doctor yet? If not, you might try the one l see up in Albuquerque. She oversees my HRT for my transition and l'm pretty happy with her. Email me at danaksager@gmail.com if you want more details. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks! I'm still hoping not to have to go to ABQ for one, but it's possible I may have to. If I need more info, I'll drop you a line, because I haven't had any recommendations so far.

      (Also, didn't know you were doing that now, which, geez, I have been in Hermit Mode and out of touch with everyone for way too long. Hope it's going well.)

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