Now I’m getting angry. Last Friday, I thought I had finally broken through the clogged pipeline of medical bureaucracy and gotten the biopsy scheduled. It was set for Tuesday, October 30. Tomorrow morning, early. On Friday, I was told to expect to hear from the hospital with instructions and more details. I expected the call to come that day. It didn’t. I called my oncologist’s scheduler this morning and asked for the telephone number of the Little Rock hospital department where my biopsy is scheduled. I called sometime after 11:00 a.m. I finally got through the morass of misdirected communications and spoke to Steve in CT, who put me on hold for a few minutes, then came back and said he’s not sure they can do it “safely” because he doesn’t have the CT images taken in Hot Springs. “Our systems aren’t linked.” He said maybe I could bring in a disk with the images. I have no disk. I have other things to do today. He said he would talk to some other people and get back to me.

Meanwhile, as I waited for his return call, I called the oncologist’s office and expressed my frustration and my concern that, perhaps, I might be dealing with people who are either  incapable of communicating with one another or incompetent or both. The woman with whom I spoke promised, too, to look into the matter and get back to me.

I told my wife I am seriously concerned that this obvious ineptitude might be indicative of the kind of care I might receive by the hospital system. She thought I was overreacting.  Technicians and schedulers shouldn’t be the measure of the organization’s quality, in her view; it’s the quality of the physicians that count. My counter is that the competence of the technicians and schedulers is absolutely important, in that they are the face of the institution and, therefore, should be trained to represent it well. If they aren’t doing their jobs properly, are they supporting the physicians appropriately? Should I be confident in the management of the hospital if its cancer unit’s staff is unable to communicate properly with the imaging unit’s staff and coordinate the delivery of images?

So I continue to wait for a return call from someone. Anyone. And while I wait, I suspect my blood pressure fluctuates between high and stratospheric. Jesus! I could have cut the effing tumor out with my pocket knife myself by now and the wound would have had time to heal.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to Stratosphere

  1. bev wigney says:

    Good luck with everything today, John. I hope the biopsy procedure is uneventful — they usually aren’t that difficult a thing. Hope things get a bit more coordinated and less stressful to deal with. In the meantime, take care. I will be thinking of you!

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