Monday, November 26, 2007

My First Lousy Kaiser Experience

We haven't made a big deal out of it here, but Andy hasn't been feeling so hot for the last few weeks. Something went haywire in his right hip and it progressed from causing mild limping to rendering him unable to walk without insane amounts of pain.

Through all of this, he regularly called Kaiser to make appointments and to follow up. I'm not saying that any of the doctors were blatantly stupid, but I do wish the process had been better. In spite of the fact that they have access to all of your records right there in the exam room, it seems like the doctors don't read any of 'em. Not even enough to follow up on the last guy's notes. Very frustrating.

A lack of continuity of care isn't what necessarily happens when you have an acute ailment that needs immediate attention. Andy attempted to see his primary care physician, but his office never called him back. When they finally did this evening, it was dramatically after the guy could have made himself useful. Clearly, it's time to find a different physician in the group. To make matters worse, he was shunted between general practitioners and rheumatologists. None of them were willing to address anything more than symptoms. And none of them had any reasonable suggestions for pain relief other than whatever they felt like prescribing at the moment.

The crowning glory of this experience was waiting for 45 minutes past our scheduled second appointment of the day today. With a nap-deprived girl who was getting pretty tired of doctors. I finally asked the receptionist if the doctor was behind. Nope-they just forgot about Andy after he'd checked in.

When he finally saw the doctor, she was happy to rule out an arthritis. That's it. Take these pills, sit on your butt for a week, that ought to fix you up. Nothing about anything else that might help the muscles relax and heal. No recommendations based on anatomy/physiology as to how he should sit. Just take the pills. Couldn't even pretend to care about an underlying cause, much discuss it with the patient and his very worried wife.

This last complaint isn't unique to Kaiser. It's very hard to find anyone who will take you as a whole person when it comes to pain management. The closest I've ever come was my personal trainer back in Chicago who was also a massage therapist. She'd coordinate anything with anyone. She also taught me to combat acute pain and control chronic pain. I wish there were more people with her training and expertise. We could use someone like that here. Right now.

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