Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Can You Say "Oops"?

Sent a patient with a long-standing shoulder problem to the orthopedist. After trying a course of conservative care, the decision was made to operate.

So the patient shows up at the hospital on the assigned date. (Gets a ride from his wife, because of course he isn't going to be able to drive himself home afterwards.) Gets all set in the pre-op area. Gets his IV (after several sticks; not sure why; his veins are fine.) Waits for the surgeon.

And waits.

And waits some more.

Overhears his surgeon rushing to get another patient into the OR. Figures there might be an emergency, but no one comes to tell him anything.

He waits.

And waits.

And waits some more.

Finally...three hours after his scheduled OR time (1:00 pm)...someone sticks a head around his curtain and says, "You still here?"

"Uh, yeah. Waiting."

And waiting.

Finally they come. Tell him it will be awhile; does he want to continue waiting? (It's now 5:00 pm.)


"Can you come back on Thursday?" they ask.


So they pull his IV that's been infusing for however many hours he spent waiting and sent him home.

He called to ask me for another orthopedist. I complied.

How do you completely forget about a patient ready and waiting for surgery? Sheesh!


At Thu Aug 14, 07:56:00 AM, Blogger rlbates said...

I'm a surgeon (and barring a true emergency) and I find it unexceptable for a patient to wait (and be forgotten) like this. I applaud that he ask for another surgeon.

At Thu Aug 14, 12:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I once had to have surgery, a pretty basic procedure. I preferred morning, sometime after getting kidlets to school and hopefully back home waiting on their arrival, or at least minimize babysitting and such. I pushed surgery back to a date that this would work. Everyone seemed to be in agreement that time-wise, everything would work out.

I was instructed I *had* to be there 2 hours prior to scheduled surgery time. No way around it. Set in stone rule.

Between kids and school and jobs and commutes, I disrupted a lot of lives to get a ride, arrange sitting, get kids to school, extra driving for transfer of little ones two and fro, and time missed from work, myself and my chauffer/babysitter/bus driver for the day.

They called me the night before and asked if I could come in earlier. I can't be there two hours early if you want me to come in at that time, I explained, but they really, *really* needed to schedule me sooner...just come in at least 30 minutes biggie...WTF? What happened to the 2 hour rule?

So upon my arrival, which was still earlier than my scheduled time, maybe an hour-45 minutes, I was set up to wait...and I waited...and I waited...and about 2-1/2 hours after my *scheduled time*, not after arrival, but when I would be headed for surgery, I learned my doctor hadn't even shown up yet. He wasn't even at the hospital...I was pretty angry (and hungry!)

Discharge was a further pain in the arse. I have no idea what he was doing, but he certainly wasn't seeing to making sure I could go home anytime soon. My sister who was dealing with my kids, her own kids, her job, driving to two different schools, wanting to deal with her own life, was pretty upset that no one even knew what time I might be released.

This doesn't just disrupt one person's day. It disrupts a lot of people's lives and schedules.

Unlike your patient, I was very vocal about the wait...yea, I annoyed the hell out of a lot of people that day (nicely though). Squeaky wheel? Who knows? I might have had to wait longer for it. :)

I think he did good work, but I certainly don't have many good things to say about this guy otherwise.

I also removed my own stitches. Screw followup. I never want to see him again. There are plenty of doctors in the sea. :)

At Thu Aug 14, 04:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd offer a way to complain about the damn surgeon, as well as a new referral!!!

I bet I know the ortho practice, it a father/son team, and does the doc's last name begin with an "R?"

At Thu Aug 14, 05:09:00 PM, Blogger #1 Dinosaur said...

Cranky: No.

At Thu Aug 14, 05:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a surgical resident I'm pretty appalled. Sure, there are times when we're running later than expected (emergencies, earlier cases that take longer than expected, bumped for someone else's emergency), but to straight up forget? That's pretty bad. I have at least once shown up at the wrong hospital, though. Oops! It just delayed the start by about 20 minutes.

At Fri Aug 15, 12:00:00 AM, Blogger Jon said...

Yikes. I'm scheduled for surgery in 2 weeks. I hope they don't forget about me.

At Fri Aug 15, 10:45:00 AM, Blogger Lynn Price said...

OMFG. That poor man! I would have been far from quiet. I would have implored Cranky come over and read them the riot act. How in the hell does one forget about a patient?

At Sat Aug 16, 10:01:00 AM, Blogger Amanda said...

I'm with Lynn, I would have been more than quiet, and would have left FAR earlier that that gentleman did. I also would have asked if the nurses had paged the surgeon, and eventually called the office myself. The doctor is not the only one at fault here... certainly there are things the hospital staff could have done to assist the situation.

At Sat Aug 16, 11:37:00 AM, Blogger OHN said...

Somebody's head will be on a platter for this error and I am betting it won't be the orthopedist.

At Sat Aug 16, 04:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And do you suppose that the hospital will bill the patient's insurance company for the useless IV, preop services, etc.......and will the hospital bill all of that again if/when the surgery is actually done?
do you suppose the orthopedist's office is going to bill insurance and/or patient for services related to this fiasco? I won't be surprised at all if they do!

At Sun Aug 17, 04:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, Dr. Dino, will you still be referring patients to this surgeon? If not, will you inform the surgeon about the change in the referral pattern?

How did the OR staff forget the patient? Wouldn't his name be on a large board (or the computer equivalent) for the staff to see?

I bet the hospital and surgeon bill for this, and get payment, because the insurer won't know that the surgery was cancelled. Then, when the patient actually has the surgery, the insurer will refuse to pay, since they've already paid out for it. And guess who'll be left to foot the bill? Yeah, the patient.

If your patient hasn't already done so, tell him to inform his insurer of what happened as soon as possible, so that he will be covered when the surgery actually takes place at another hospital.

At Thu Aug 21, 03:37:00 AM, Blogger SeaSpray said...

I trust he won't have to pay for the hospital stay in SDS.


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