Thursday, December 31, 2009

Confidence in the Great Physician - Suspicion About Everyone Else!

It came today. The resolution letter. (See my post "Faxing Away A Year's Worth of Tears I knew it would because of the conversation I had with Anthem several days ago inquiring as to whether they got my latest addendum to the grievance. One more bump along the way. There were so many bumps along the way, including the initial denial of the grievance. Lots of phone calls, yet another letter, and so much time spent on the phone. Was it worth it? I suppose so. It wasn't lost on me, however, that I got this letter on the last day of 2009. Perhaps it's symbolic of being done with the old things in the past year and starting 2010 off with a fresh, new, hopeful start. I was surprised at how I felt as I first scanned the letter. Fear. I felt a wave of fear wind my stomach up in a tight knot. Wow, I thought, this is real. All the words are in black and white. And then, "All of your concerns you shared have been investigated fully by our Quality Management Department." OK.
     At any rate, it's over. This is "closure," right? In a bittersweet way I suppose. Apparently, Anthem received the responses from the doctor and the hospital on December 24th. It now gets handed off to the legal department at Anthem and they will decide which course of action they will take with the doctor and hospital, if any, now that they have both sides of the story and all my medical records.  If any formal disciplinary actions are taken against the doctor and hospital it will appear on the website of the Department of Consumer Affairs. That information is made public to inform people of any problems with licensed individuals in the State of California. The public nature of the information seems protective of consumers more than anything.
     In fact, I was looking up an obstetrician on that website awhile ago who I know was formally disciplined. Next to his name it said "Probation completed." I had heard the story about this doctor a couple of years ago. Apparently, his gross negligence - not responding to calls from the nursing staff - led to the death of a young patient. He was sent away to an exotic location (I'm not kidding) for "training" or something like that for six weeks. The hospital was put on probation for several years, the nursing staff was questioned and deposed and traumatized (again) by all the disciplinary measures taken against the hospital, massive lawsuits against everybody and their brother ensued and it was just A-W-F-U-L.
     At the park about 8 months ago I met this woman with a young baby. We got to talking about her labor and delivery. She proceeds to tell me that her delivery was quite traumatic because the baby was born in the bed and no doctor or nurse was around to assist with the delivery. The woman had an epidural so she didn't feel the baby emerge under her bed sheet. She just saw blood and then looked underneath the sheet and voila! there was her baby.  Apparently, she and her husband overheard her nurse calling her doctor several times, BUT HE NEVER RESPONDED TO THE CALLS TILL IT WAS TOO LATE. You know who that doctor was? You guessed it. The doctor I described in the paragraph above. Apparently, over a decade later this doctor still hasn't changed his negligent ways.
     Want to hear something even scarier? I almost went to see him for my pregnancy with Julia. He didn't take my insurance.(Phew! Having an HMO has its unanticipated advantages I guess).On doctor ratings websites he had glowing reviews.On the Department of Consumer Affairs Medical Board website, however, he had completed probation the month I was inquiring about whether he took my insurance. I think for a small fee I could've gotten more details as to why he was put on probation. Perhaps that's what I'll recommend to women who want to choose a doctor. The ratings websites for doctors are limited. The Medical Board has way too few reports of "bad" conduct by doctors. However, with that one doctor in particular had that woman checked him out perhaps she would have chosen a different doctor. Her delivery probably wouldn't have been so scary. Who knows?
     Don't get me wrong. I'm NOT anti-doctor. My dad and father-in-law are both doctors. Both men have cared for thousands of patients over the years with compassion and integrity. My mom and stepmom were labor and delivery nurses. They, too, cared for many women with kindness and competence. I have utmost respect and admiration for medical professionals, including my younger sister who's been an ICU nurse for over 17 years. One of my close friends is a new med/surg oncology nurse. They both tell me their stories. I'm amazed they can do what they do shift after shift.
     Perhaps one motivation for my grievance came from all the hardworking and caring medical people in my family. It's appropriate to keep the medical profession at its best. Sometimes doctors and nurses need help when they've lost the vision they had at the beginning of medical/nursing school, the memory of when they took the Hippocratic Oath - "First, do no harm"- or when they're having a bad day, week, year...Perhaps disciplinary measures really help most of those doctors and nurses to take stock, reevaluate, make changes. But then there are always those doctors who never really learn. My prayer and voice to others is to do thorough research, ask around, PRAY if you have any concerns about a health care provider.
     Who really knows? I return to my steadfast belief that God is sovereign "over the affairs of men." And he's watchful. Scripture describes him as the Great Physician. How comforting and revealing that that would be one of the names of God. When I found out several days after Julia was born that my whole church prayed that my delivery would go well just 2 hours before Julia was born, I started crying and shook at relief that God really came through for me. What would have happened had they not prayed? But they did. Thank you Lord Jesus.I've been pondering the fact that all things in our lives are meant to point to the glory of Jesus Christ. My prayer and hope about this grievance I filed was that somehow that would happen. Who knows? God does. I can remind myself of that - again. And choose the title of this post as I  have really come to experience things. May God be glorified!

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