I have written many posts in the past on how to be your own advocate, how to take control of your medical records and how to get the most out of your doctor's appointments. Unfortunately, even the best laid plans can go awry. Even when you are doing everything right... how do you prevent the doctor from doing something wrong?
About a month ago it began, excruciating pain. I am used to pain and deal with chronic pain due to endometriosis. That having been said, this pain was different and it scared me. I went to my family practice doctor to figure out what the problem was. Medical tests are expensive but the pain was different than my normal, so I consented to the testing. The first two they ran came back normal. I was told to "wait it out".
I wasn't exactly happy with the "wait it out" plan and should have been more assertive about my own health. After a week of unrelenting pain my husband became frustrated and called the doctor's office himself to find out exactly how long I was supposed to ignore everything. By now, it had been over two weeks. That was when I was told that three specific blood tests would be run. I dragged myself into the doctor's office, shielding myself with "isolation" and GermX to avoid contracting the flu as I waited, and gave blood.
Then, I waited. Two weeks went by. No calls.
I finally called to check the status of my labs and to my complete dismay they had "forgotten" to run the three important labs and only had on record a cbc and cholesterol test. The cholesterol test had not even been mention prior to this point as even being needed!
Before you ask... No, I will NOT be using this doctor again. Not only because of this one mistake but because of several others. I didn't write this to doctor bash. I wrote this blog to teach all of you what I did wrong so that you don't have to deal with the same issue in your own struggles for an accurate diagnosis.
You see, if I hadn't known exactly what tests were being done I would not have known to ask for those specific results. I would have assumed when they told me "everything was normal" that those issues never needed to be addressed again. That could have been a dangerous or even deadly mistake. Perhaps those tests would have been normal had they been run but what if they would have been abnormal? If I hadn't known which results to ask for, I would have checked those potential problems off my list. Assumed they could no longer be the cause and headed back down the line for answers. Maybe even missing the most obvious of problems!
So here is my advice for you today:
1. Write down the names of the tests your doctor will be performing.
2. When the labs are being drawn reaffirm with the tech that the tests you think are being done are actually being done.
3. Ask your doctor when you can expect to have the results and how to go about obtaining them.
4. Call to retrieve your results and DO NOT assume they are normal because you did not hear from your doctor. (I have had this happen with the above mentioned doctor as well and went weeks with abnormal thyroid levels before I happened to call to get my medication refilled. Only then did they notice the problem).
5. If you have frequent problems with a doctor or office staff: GET A NEW DOCTOR.
Don't be afraid of hurting someone's feelings or being rude. Your health is more important than the feelings of someone who may not even be taking yours into consideration!!
Be careful out there. Your health is often in your own hands.
Published On: November 16, 2009