Monday, August 17, 2009

More Healthcare Hijinks!

As a healthcare consumer advocate I always marvel at how little knowledge - even common sense - exists among so-called "health professionals." I think I'll devote series of blogs to some of my most recent "healthcare hijinks" experiences.

I get a great deal of my healthcare at a local clinic which in the past six-months has really taken great strides to improve customer service. They are very friendly, aggressive about getting back to patients about their healthcare (they even have a new online system where you can check test results as they become available), and the improvement is noticeable. But this is more a tale of inability to think on your feet - a skill that I feel is basic to the notion of healthcare.

I had some crazy TSH readings (typical of anyone with early Hashimoto's Thyroiditis) so my endocrinologist was tweaking my meds over a series of weeks. It is common for a doctor to relay information to one of their nurses who, in turn, (keep in mind these are college graduates experienced with medications and patient care) interfaces with the patient on issues such as dosage adjustments.

Let me first preface my diatribe with the fact that the nurse I am about to take to task was friendly, courteous, and worked hard to follow up with me (I am often difficult to reach because of my crazy schedule). Maybe it was just a "bad day." Nonetheless, I was left wondering just how competent the person on the other end of the phone was.

The nurse called to say the doc wanted to up my dose of Armour thyroid from 1/2 grain to 3/4 grains twice per day and the nurse asked if I wanted a new prescription. I said we could proabably still use my current prescription but would have to renew it much earlier as I will be using a 50% bigger dose. This is where the keystone cops episode begins.

The nurse remarked, "But your prescription is for 1 grain." I explained that since my dosage changes so frequently (and because it is far cheaper to do it this way) I use 1 grain pills that I simply split into 1/2 grain doses. At that she remarked, "But the doctor wants you to take 3/4 of grain." My retort was, "Yes, but I can also split the 1/2 grain pieces into 1/4 grain pieces. I could even take three 1/2 doses three times per day (which I believe would be the superior way to take any thyroid preparation containing T3)." At that point she was completely befuddled. After a short course in remedial math (which I am still not certain she comprehended) I convinced her that 1/2 grain plus 1/4 grain equaled 3/4 grains and that three 1/2 grain doses was the same amount of medicine as two 3/4 grain doses.

Afterwards, we laughed it off and she ended with,"Well, I am really not familar Armour Thyroid". What a shame for the doctor's thyroid patients! Now, even in the "far out" world of Armour Thyroid (sarcasm intended) basic math (like 1/4 plus 1/2 equals 3/4) still holds true!

As I mentioned, perhaps it was just a bad day with a little brain fog (I guess that is scary in itself). But it made me both laugh . . . and think! Of course this is not as bad as when I went to the pharmacy with a prescription for therapeutic vitamins and walked away with a prescription for coumadin - but that's another story (i.e. always read your labels)!

Looking out for your health,


Blog Directory - Blogged