The Arm: Latest Update

The latest report on progress with my broken arm is *sigh* no progress.

I had expected to report Friday that I'd finally gotten in to see my orthopedic doctor at Mayo Clinic's Phoenix branch.  This is the same doctor who did rotator cuff surgery on my other shoulder back in 2010, so I didn't expect any problems.

Got there Friday afternoon, to find there was a big problem:  There was no appointment.  It had been cancelled a week previously.  I called the number to contact the doctor's secretary, and got told the doctor had refused to approve the appointment.  When I asked why, I was told it was Mayo policy to not see patients who'd been previously operated on by non-Mayo surgeons.

Say what?

This was a bit upsetting, because I'd made clear when I set the appointment that I'd been taken to John C. Lincoln Hospital following the accident, and operated on there, because it was the closest place with a trauma unit, not because it was my provider of choice.  (Hilde and I have been getting most of our care at Mayo for years.)

Because the accident happened at work, it was being covered under Workman's Comp instead of my private insurance.  Because of that, I had to get permission to change doctors, from the surgeon who'd operated on me at JCLto my doctor at Mayo.  Since the Mayo appointment had been set weeks before last Friday with no caveats raised, I'd gone and gotten that approval pushed thru.  But that meant I was no longer a patient of the JCL surgeon.

So, for a few hours, it looked like I was suddenly in limbo, without any doctor at all to oversee my post-op care and treatment.  That was particularly important because one of the things I expected to come away with from that cancelled Friday appointment was permission to begin the more active phase of my physical therapy. 

(So far, I've only had passive exercises for the shoulder, where the therapist provides all the support and movement.  It's the active -- painful --therapy where the real strength and mobility comes back.  But the therapy place needed a doctor's permission and protocols before they could start that.)

Fortunately, things weren't quite that dire.  It turned out what I'd been told was wrong.  The actual problem had to do with that approval to change doctors.  Mayo had never received a copy of the paper from Workman's Comp's granting permission for the changeover.  After that was realized and I faxed Mayo a copy of the approval, a new appointment got set in fairly quick order.  Unfortunately, the first available date isn't until February 4th, which means more than another week's delay in moving to the next phase of physical therapy.

One important thing to note about this foofara is that the initial misinformation I was given by that secretary -- not my actual doctor's secretary, only the one who was available to answer that phone at the time I called -- only got corrected because I didn't stop at talking with that secretary.  After that disturbing phone conversation, I went to Mayo's PAL office -- Patient Administrative Liason -- and described my situation to the lady there.  It was only after she started making phone calls that it became clear the problem was a correctable one, and I wasn't really up Shit Creek without a doctor.

I'm still a bit perturbed, though, that the secretary I first talked to gave me information that was so seriously wrong.  Was she just misinformed, or talking out her hat, or off the cuff, or just Making Shit Up to get a bothersome patient off the line?  If I'd taken her words as a definitive answer, I'd... y'know, I'm not sure what my next step would have been; I certainly felt at a loss at the time.

So one lesson is: Keep asking questions, keep bugging people, keep pushing forward.

The other lesson is: Get a goddamn better answering machine for the home phone.  When the appointment was removed from Mayo's calendar a week prior, Mayo attempted to contact me.  After I got home Friday, I found the message on the answering machine.  This isn't the first time I've missed hearing messages for days.  The message indicator on the machine is so small and unobtrusive that unless you're right on top of it, it's easy to not notice it.  I had Mayo change my contact number to my cellphone; the little tiny icon that indicates voice mail messages on that is actually more noticeable than the landline's answering machine's tiny red light.  So I might have gotten things straightened out a week earlier if I'd gotten that message within a reasonable time.

This whole thing started with a stumble that turned into a fall that turned into a major injury.  I could do without any more stumbling blocks, thanks.

1 comment:

Will Shetterly said...

God, I hate this country sometimes. Emma's broken elbows also resulted in dealing with infuriating bureaucracy that meant she didn't always get help as early as she should've. Hang in there!