Friday, November 16, 2007

A morning at the VA hospital

I had some blood work done at the VA hospital in Oklahoma City this morning as a prelude to seeing my primary care doctor. He had ordered some blood work and urine testing before seeing me. Another doctor, a psychiatrist had also ordered some blood test done for other reasons and I'd told him I was having blood tests done on Nov. 16th so he put his on for the same day, even though I'm not seeing him again until January.

I showed up bright and early to the lab. They only took one vial of blood and didn't give me a urine cup as I'd expected. I asked them about that and they assured me that's all they needed.


So I went to see my doctor. He said the only lab work they'd done was for the psychiatrist. So he said he could enter a work order for his tests again and they wouldn't need more blood but he wanted a urine test so I could go back up to give them a sample.

I went back upstairs to the lab. I gave them my ID and the work number the doctor had given me and sat down to wait.

When they called me the clerk just handed me a slip of paper, no cup. I asked her what that was for. "Take it into there", she said, pointing into the room they use to draw blood.

"Are you sure"?

"Yes", she said.

"The doctor told me I was just coming up to give a urine sample?"

"No, he ordered a blood test", she said.

"Yes, but you already took blood this morning and he told me you wouldn't need a new blood sample but he wanted a urine test".

"He didn't order that".

"Okay, let me tell you what happened from the git go and maybe you can call him and clarify", I said.

She didn't take her eyes from the computer screen. Never looked at me at all.

Some other woman was standing behind the counter, no my right, talking to a 3rd employee who was in front of the counter on my left. Loudly. I waited patiently (yes, at that point I was being very patient) for them to stop yelling over us so I could talk to the clerk. They didn't stop talking.

Finally I said the the clerk, "I guess that's one reason y'all tend to screw things up".

"What reason?", she said.

I pointed to the two employees carrying out their conversation by yelling over us rather than one of them stepping off to the side so they could speak directly to each other. "Them, not paying attention at all to who they interrupt by talking over others".

Without missing a beat the two jerks moved off to one side.

It turns out, I discovered later, that the one behind the counter was some kind of supervisor.

Myself and the clerk kept going back and forth, I kept trying to explain to her what had happened, she kept ignoring me and staring at the computer screen. I was probably getting loud, since everyone knows that when someone doesn't want to listen to you that they'll always soften up and start paying attention if you just talk louder (that's a joke).

So, the supervisor came out and told me to talk to her. I said, Okay. Then she said, "What is your question"?

Well, I didn't actually have a question at that point. By then It was pretty clear to me what had happened with crossed computer messages and I just was under the mistaken impression that the miscommunication between doctor and lab could be easily cleared up by simply having the doctor and lab talk directly.

No, that's not the way things work.

I had to talk to the doctor again, the supervisor told me. Since I'd just talked to him I didn't see much point in that.

"I'm trying to help you and you're just getting angry," she said.

The concept of an angry Vietnam vet is one I'm familiar with. It means "I'm going to call security".

I was very frustrated probably, maybe even agitated. But I actually wasn't angry. That's not the right word to describe me at all.

The clerk had told me that they needed more blood. Now the supervisor told me that they didn't need more blood and they didn't need urine. Need blood. Don't need blood. That's two different things? Right?

Well, I told her she was clearly not paying attention since they were telling me two different things. She denied that Need blood and Don't need blood are different things.

Of course I was the one getting angry.

So I pissed in a cup and left it with them and went back down to see the doctor. I didn't give them more blood.

I explained it to the receptionist at the clinic who cleared it up.

I went back upstairs to the lab to make sure they had everything they thought they needed. A different clerk (one who'd witnessed the previous exchange but hadn't participated) assured me it was all cleared up now.

Nobody apologized. Why should they? They didn't screw anything up. It was that angry Vietnam vet who caused all the problems.