On Friday, December 14, around 7:20 p.m., I went to Crouse Hospital’s Prompt Care. I was signed in by Patient Access Representative Johanna Schell. She handed me an electronic sign-in box and asked me to sign for them to access my electronic medical records.
I don’t sign things I haven’t read (Judge Judy is constantly on my conscience), so I asked to see what I was signing. She gave me the HealtheConnections Consent Form. It was two pages long, which Ms Schell had condensed into a single sentence. http://healtheconnections.org/RHIO/Patients/Consent
I checked the “deny consent” box, signed it, and asked for a copy. Ms Schell headed toward the photocopier when she was stopped by her coworker. Patient Access Rep Gina Gamble told her that she could not give me a copy. She said it was now part of my medical record and I would have to go to Medical Records to get a copy.
In view of the fact that I was the only one who had set a pen to this paper, I thought that was insane. Notes written by others were not being released, only my own signature. I simply will not play these games with the medical industry, so I took back the form and refused any further interaction on the subject.
While waiting to see the care provider, I read the HealtheConnections Consent Form. On page 2, item 9 says “Copy of Form. You are entitled to get a copy of this Consent Form after you sign it.”
On my way out, I again spoke to Ms Schell. She stated that she’d only been on the job three months, that Gina Gamble (who no longer was present) had been there several years, and that she and Gamble occupied parallel positions—Gamble was not her supervisor.
So this is a complaint against Gina Gamble. In the first place, she was dead wrong about me getting a copy of the form; she didn’t know what she was doing. In the second place, she should have been minding her own business instead of monitoring what was going on between her coworker and another patient. Gamble has utterly failed to stay behind proper boundaries and in so doing she has driven me out of the system. You will never get my consent to access my electronic data.
One of my major complaints against the American medical industry is that it creates frontline workers who take the minimal power they have and abuse it. In the name of medical care, petty clerks push patients around. This does not happen in any other industry. I don’t get this when I go to the mall, grocery shopping or the library.
In government, the issues of petty frontline workers tend to be about rigidity, not power. The frontline worker is not going to go along with anything the citizen suggests, but in medicine it’s different. There is a heritage of arrogance. This traces straight up the line to the arrogance of physicians who give orders. They do not make suggestions or give advice; they role-model giving orders and it gets passed down the line until you get moron-ninnies bullying patients.
The relationship between the patient and the medical industry has been totally corrupted. What once was a relationship between a doctor, a patient, and the chicken the patient offered in payment to the physician, has now become big business involving insurance companies and government. Pharmaceuticals, and medical products and equipment, rank as the third and fourth largest industries in American (source: Forbes 500). According to Wikipedia, “The health care industry is one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing industries. Consuming over 10 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) of most developed nations, health care can form an enormous part of a country’s economy.”
According to the Post-Standard, the top seven employers in Central New York include three hospitals and a nursing home; the biggest employer is SUNY Upstate Medical Center and yet, when you search on “leading industry,” you find absolutely no mention of health care. “Industry” is defined as “economic activity concerned with the processing of raw materials and manufacture of goods in factories,” and “a particular form or branch of economic or commercial activity: ‘the tourist industry.’”
As a society, we are willfully blind. Medical care is our biggest business but we won’t even count it. Tourism, yes; medical care, no. And, as a business, medical care is an abomination. Physicians are notoriously poor money managers, hence the growing business of medical financial managers. (I posit a direct negative correlation: The better your physician is as a businessman, the worse he is as a medical care provider; the two skill-sets are incompatible. The wise physician marries or parents a person with good business sense.)
Likewise, quality control in the medical industry is dreadful. I once kept track of the errors I was being subjected to and it ran at about 25%. The doctor ordered a “K” test—potassium; the lab intake clerk insisted that K was iron. The physician ordered a drug that he had previously ascertained no longer was on the market. An untrained hospital aide mishandled and thereby damaged medical equipment. Abnormal test results were put in my file without ever notifying me. The list is endless. Imagine what would happen if the automobile industry was running at a 25% error rate.
Additionally, this major industry’s people-management is atrocious. Hospitals have relatively few middle-aged nurses because they are burning out their own workforce. Supervisors rarely are in the same workspace as the employees they are supposed to be supervising. Non-professional staff members appear to be hired for their ability to be subservient to their medical bosses, not to think for themselves or exercise good business judgment.
And so we come back to Gina Gamble, the end result of an abominable, dreadful, atrocious major industry that we pretend is just “Uncle Doctor,” a benign man who has your best interests at heart. Gina, heir to an arrogant system of giving orders—and whose supervisor is only accessible by phone—has just driven a patient out of the medical data-sharing system.
The medical care industry is one of our biggest businesses and is grossly mismanaged.