Just For the Records

Posted on: September 27th, 2009 by

In a previous post, I was venturing into the wonderful world of obtaining my daughter’s lab records from an incompetent pediatrician. While this undertaking lacked the drama of A Traincar Named Quagmire, it is still noteworthy because it shows yet another example of how you can advocate for your or your loved ones’ needs — even if you have to muddle through muddled administrative minds.

This time, the setting was not a traincar, but a desk at work. A few days earlier, I had made arrangements with a “staff” member at the doctor’s office — and I use that term (doctor’s office) loosely — to pick up the lab results. 

All I had to do was show up.

But I knew better. I knew to call first before I showed up to pick up the records.
So, as I expected, the phone conversation was rough, mainly because the people at the other end of the phone couldn’t even buy a clue as to medical terminology. This is how the conversation went verbatim (things got pretty steamed toward the end):
Me: I am coming over today to pick up my daughter’s lab results.
Stupid Staffmember 1 (SS1): Your daughter’s wha???
Me: Lab results.

After telling SS1 my daughter’s name, he comes back on the line.

SS1: We only have her labs, not her lab results.
Me: What are you talking about? Are you talking about documentation that she had her blood drawn on the day of the exam? (I used the term “exam” loosely.)
SS1: Yes.
Me: I don’t need to pick up proof that she had her blood drawn, just the results of the blood draw.
SS1: Yeah, like I said, we have the labs, not the results.
Me: That makes no sense to me. The results of the lab tests are what I need.
SS1: We don’t have them.
Me: (Trying to contain myself): You have to have them. I was to speak with the doctor two weeks ago about the results, and I cancelled that appointment. But the results were supposed to be in awhile ago.
SS1: But they’re not in. It’s really no big deal…of no great importance, really.
Me: (No longer able to contain myself): WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT’S OF NO GREAT IMPORTANCE? Do you want to know why it’s of great importance to me?
SS1: Why? (I could’ve had more intellectual discourse with a cow.)
Me: Because I watched my daughter endure a lot of pain by being stuck repeatedly AND I paid $500 for the tests, so I would say I have a large stake in the matter.
At this point, I was put on hold. 

Then Stupid Staffmember 2 gets on the line.

SS2: Ma’am, we don’t have the labs.
Me: But you have the lab results, right? Let me explain to you why I want the lab results. Frankly, I didn’t appreciate the care my daughter received at your office. The doctor lacked skills, and gave her a poor exam. I’ve had no choice but to fire him. I need the lab results to give to another doctor. 
SS2: Yes, that’s what we’ve been trying to tell you. We have the lab results.
Me: The results of the lab tests, right?
SS2: Yes.
Me: Then I’ll be over within an hour to pick them up and sign a release.

When I got there, the results were in an envelope. I made sure to open the envelope immediately to make sure they were the right patient’s results. Indeed they were. 

As I was signing the Release of Information form, a woman was complaining because she had an appointment with this same doctor, and lo and behold, he was on vacation but no one told her! The staff claimed they didn’t know he was on vacation until that very moment. And, not to my surprise, the woman said this has happened to her and her four children three to four times already.

I told her that I was there picking up my daughter’s medical records because of the doctor and suggested she find a new physician. What she said next blew my mind: “Oh it’s not the doctor I’m unhappy with; it’s the office staff.”

I disagree that a doctor and staff are two different entities. You can tell a lot about a doctor by his or her office staff and the waiting room environment. This will be the topic of my next posting.

Beth L. Gainer is a professional writer and has published numerous academic and magazine articles, as well as an essay on her breast cancer experience in the anthology Voices of Breast Cancer by LaChance Publishing. She writes about a potpourri of topics, including motherhood and her Chinese adoption experience at http://currents-living-discovery.blogspot.com/, and her cat Hemi blogs at http://www.catterchatter.blogspot.com/. Beth teaches writing and literature at Robert Morris University in the Chicago area. She has a guest posting on The World’s Strongest Librarian at http://worldsstrongestlibrarian.com/3597/sharing-a-loved-ones-pain-guest-post-by-beth-gainer/.

She can be contacted at

bethlgainer@gmail.com and gainercallingtheshots@gmail.com.


This blog posting is an excerpt from my book in progress, Calling the Shots: Coaching Yourself Through the Medical System. Stay in loop for when it comes out. Subscribe to the blog in upper righthand corner.

2 Responses to Just For the Records

  1. Jeannie had this to say about that:

    Can you say MORONS? It’s crazy how difficult it can be to get some stupid documents from a doctor’s office. I loved your response to his flippant remark about the importance of the test. You go girl!

  2. Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

    Thanks much, Jeannie!! When morons are working at a doctor’s office, then that’s a HUGE hint that the doctor is a moron as well.

    This turned out to be the case. BTW, the pediatrician I hired is FABULOUS!! So glad I fired the other one.

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