General chatter - *Furious* at my doctor...

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Nola Celeste
04-19-2011, 01:43 PM
Okay, I need to be set firmly back on the handle that I am just about to FLY off of right now and I'm hoping that you good folks can help me.

I went in last Wednesday for a blood test to have my thyroid levels checked. I have a hypoactive thyroid and, like a car with a leaky oil pan, it needs to have its dipstick checked so my thyroid medication tops off the tank properly. I figured I'd have my results by Friday, but have heard nothing, so I called today.

The nurse tells me some blah-blah about my triglyceride levels and my low HDL cholesterol levels (171 and 36, respectively). I tell her, "There must be some mistake; I didn't have a lipo panel done, I had a TSH test done." She replies, "Well, I don't see those results yet, so they must not have come in."

At this point I'm worried because they only took one vial of blood; they couldn't have run both tests on one vial. But okay, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. I'll wait for them to call. I'll be a good little lamb.

I couldn't stand waiting, though, and decided to call back and check up on that test. Waiting four days instead of the two they said it'd take was bad enough, I thought, but then to have them switch my test with someone else's? That's bad juju. So I called and spoke to the doctor's nurse instead of a receptionist this time. She gave me the same blah-blah about taking OTC fish oil capsules. I said, "Are we talking about last Wednesday's test? Because last Wednesday, I came in for a thyroid test. Didn't I?"

NOPE. :mad:

They gave me the wrong blood test. Blood tests cost eighty bucks. I saved for weeks for this blood test, and they gave me the wrong ******* test.

AND, to top it all off, eating my morning flaxseed cereal and being abstemious and eating like a healthy person has not, in fact, made me a healthy person. I did not WANT to know my TG levels. I'm already doing all the things that they tell you you're supposed to do--quit smoking, lose weight, eat more fruits and veg, eat less meat and full-fat dairy stuff, we all know the drill--and I actively did not want to know. (That may seem weird to not want to know,, it's like being told to take out the trash when you already have it in hand and are halfway out the door. Just annoying, and to no good purpose.)

I don't have eighty bucks for another test, yet I am out of my thyroid prescription and need the blood test to get it refilled.

I'm livid. Livid and worried because I'll feel like crap for those few days that my body feels its levothyroxine intermission. My already-slow weight loss will stop. I'll itch everywhere from dry skin. I'll sleep ten- and eleven-hour days. I'll feel half-asleep. I hate hate HATE the way that feels. It's wretched.

How in the **** am I supposed to trust this doctor's staff at this point? I'm so mad I can't see straight! And I have zero recourse aside from free clinics, and I make too much money for a free clinic to see me so my best option is this "urgent care" facility.

They URGENTLY need to hire some ******* staff with the third-grade literacy level needed to process "Patient will be in on Wednesday for TSH. Arrange lipo panel for later test date." They URGENTLY need to call me and make nicey-nice with me for effin' up.

Thank goodness I just have a bum thyroid; what if they'd given the wrong test to someone who has diabetes? What if it was supposed to be a hepatitis test? AIDS test? Pregnancy test?

I'm sorry this is so long. Sorry to bend your collective disembodied ear about this stupid problem. I'm and my husband is out for his jog and I just feel like crap on a cracker about my blood-work even if it wasn't the blood-work I needed done. I didn't WANT to know, and now that I do I feel like there's an alarm clock in my chest where my heart should be.

I am going to bed and pulling the blankets over my head and having a good cry now. Then I will think about what I'm going to do.

04-19-2011, 01:50 PM
Do you have a copy of the Lab order (if you don't the dr.s office should)? Because if it says it is for your thyroid levels, they will do a blood draw without you paying for it! Cuz it's THEIR mistake! Either way..I'd be getting my blood done without cost to me, but I'm not afraid to go in there and demand it!

And yes, you can get a whole large amount of tests done on one blood vial. Thyroid level, CBC, tryglicerides and such can all be done from one vial of blood. the only time they have to take more, is when they need different additives to either coagulate, or anti-coag..the colored stoppers on vials are there for those reasons. Usually you will never have two green stoppers..on the rare occasion you'll have like 2 red stoppers, but that's when they run a HUGE panel!

04-19-2011, 01:50 PM
It is their mistake, they should eat the cost of the erroneous lab work and provide you with your thyroid panel free. There is absolutely no reason for you to pay for a test you did not need.
Did your doctor order the wrong test or did the office staff complete the lab requisition incorrectly? Either way you paid for a thyroid test and that's what you should have, period.

Dilli Doo
04-19-2011, 01:56 PM
I don't blame you one bit for being peeved!! I would march my happy A#s right down there and give them a piece of my mind. For one thing, it is THEIR screw up so they should cover the cost to have another blood test done. You better believe I wouldn't leave until they agreed to redo my test at no charge and put a rush on it so that I could have my medication in a timely manner. No one is perfect and mistakes are made no matter what profession you are in, but they should be responsible for correcting that mistake.

04-19-2011, 02:02 PM
Nola-I just sent you a PM. Sorry this happened.

04-19-2011, 02:04 PM
First *hugs* I feel your frustration.

Second- I'd ask for my TSH to be done for free since you specifically were there for TSH tests and nothing else.

Third, your Tri's are just borderline high- I'm sure they'll continue to go down no worries!

Fourth- not sure what you are eating but things like olive oil, nuts, and avocado can increase your HDL levels.

I hope it all works out! Just call back and nicely ask if they are going to get your TSH tested and if they will waive the costs since it was SUPPOSED to be done last time. If all else fails ask to speak to the doctor and explain what happened.

Also- when my doctor's office kept messing things up I changed doctors- my new doctor is awesome and her staff is even better. :)

04-19-2011, 02:04 PM
OK. Deep breath. Or maybe several deep breaths.

Step one, call their billing office. Explain that the wrong test was administered and that you'd like to discuss the billing for it, since you did not consent to have it done and don't intend to pay for it. You may want to wait a little bit until you're calmer, though, so you don't explode at the billing people (since they did not order your test). The gold standard for getting your way is "Calm, pleasant, polite, and firm". Explain (repeatedly, to managers if necessary) that you did not authorize the test that was performed, that it was performed in error, and that you are disputing any charges related to that test. Errors happen, and offices deal with this stuff. The standard of care would be to inform you of what tests will be run. Make sure that they are aware that paying for the incorrectly-ordered test will not be possible for you.

Step two, ask to speak to or get an appointment with the doctor to discuss a one or two-month supply of your thyroid medication at current dosage, to give you time to get the appropriate results back. Using your car analogy, you KNOW that your oil pan is leaking. The test will tell you that you need to add 3 quarts of oil, where before you might only have been adding 2. But adding two is still better than adding none. Just not having your medication at all because you don't have your tests result yet is saying "I know my oil pan is leaking, but since I don't know if it needs 2 or 3 quarts of oil, I just won't put in any". The doc should give you a one-month prescription at your current dosage to tide you over until the results from the thyroid test come in. Use this analogy if your doctor tries to tell you that you need the blood test to refill the prescription. Firmly, politely, calmly, and persistently state that you need a 1 month prescription to keep your medication current until you get the blood test.

I can't help on the "not wanting to know" part. My thinking is, having that information or not having it doesn't change a thing (not really, anyway. Your levels are your levels, and you're doing what you can to alter them. So having that knowledge doesn't HARM you, and hey, if you are persistent with their billing folks, you'll probably get the test and results for free).

Remember that doctors, and the people who work with them, are still PEOPLE. Errors happen to everyone. The true test of the doctor and his staff will be in how they handle their error. If you're calm and persistent and polite, most likely you can get this resolved. I know it's frustrating to have people screw up in ways that affect your life. But EVERYONE screws up sometimes and no one is perfect. It's annoying, but it's a fact of life that sometimes there will be errors that you have to correct.

04-19-2011, 02:09 PM
They need to cover the cost of the test. If you made an appointment to have your thyroid checked and its in their paperwork, than its their fault. I would start making more noise until someone does something.
messing with your trhyroid meds is dangerous and once you start, you should keep taking them. They are really messing with your health by this mistake.

04-19-2011, 02:10 PM
Ditto to what mandalinn said-call the office and have this fixed.
They still may be able to have the thyroid panel ran on the same blood if the lab holds the blood for at least 7 days (my lab does that). But you have to call the doctor's office and get it straightened out soon. More than likely, the nurse filling out the lab requisition just checked the wrong test. They should be able to fix it at no cost to you.

Good luck and hugs :)

DixC Chix
04-19-2011, 04:34 PM
First - :hug::hug::hug: and my sympathies.

My thyroid Rx was up for review and I called dr. office ahead of the time for my appt. so I would have the results to discuss with my dr not a receptionist.

I told whoever answered the phone (my dr sometimes has students from a local school for OJT) that I wanted to review thyroid, lipid and glucose and I would pick it up and take for the tests.

I reviewed what little circles were filled in and only one of the TSH panel (not the T3 which I am concerned about) nor the lipid panel. I called my sister who was once a lab technologist what tests I should have had checked and I filled them in. I absolutely hate when I have to go back for more blood work and then don't get to discuss them with the dr. It pi$$es me off and it will not happen again as long as I have any say.

I recently went back for a retest after a change in Rx and still got the student that gave me the generic 'everything came back okay'. I am still waiting for dr to return call for more specific info and review results for the need for Cytomel for the T3.


Call until you are satisfied and have all your health concerns addressed properly.

04-19-2011, 09:11 PM
I reviewed what little circles were filled in and only one of the TSH panel (not the T3 which I am concerned about) nor the lipid panel. I called my sister who was once a lab technologist what tests I should have had checked and I filled them in.

Just wanted to say that this is not something that you should be doing (not just you, but everyone).

A lab requisition is a Doctor's order and marking things yourself/altering the doctor's order could get you into trouble. (If anyone catches it.)

04-20-2011, 12:17 AM
Everyone has already given good advice, and you're likely already on the path to resolving the issue.

Just a reminder: the only person that deserves NolaWrath is the one who actually made the mistake. Everyone else is just doing their jobs, and you'll get a lot more accomplished while being pleasant yet firm than you would by barging in (even by phone) and laying the verbal smack down. I'm sure you're aware of this and handling the situation gracefully.

(Or someone is in a headlock. Whichever method proves effective, really...)

Don't back down. Explain the situation to everyone that will listen, until someone who listens also has the power to get you back on the right track with your medication.

I hope this gets worked out quickly. Keep your cool and be polite. As Mandalinn said, this will likely require many deep breaths. I'm not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV), but I might also recommend a refreshing beverage? *grins*

Best of luck, doll - keep us posted.

EDIT: Rest assured, I'm totally ready to assist in the headlocking of others, should the situation call for it.

04-20-2011, 12:48 AM

YOu've gotten a lot of good advice. If all else fails, you can always write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, that will usually light a fire under someone who does not want to be hot!

04-20-2011, 01:30 PM
First - :hug::hug::hug: and my sympathies.
I reviewed what little circles were filled in and only one of the TSH panel (not the T3 which I am concerned about) nor the lipid panel. I called my sister who was once a lab technologist what tests I should have had checked and I filled them in. I absolutely hate when I have to go back for more blood work and then don't get to discuss them with the dr. It pi$$es me off and it will not happen again as long as I have any say.

Yes but you also have to fill in the codes, if you saw circles missing you should have said something right there about missing circles or taken the paper back to the office and said that stuff was missing.

They probably didn't do the other tests if you didn't have the appropriate codes written in.

Nola Celeste
04-20-2011, 02:11 PM
Thanks, folks. :hug: Today is definitely a better day.

Believe me, I would never tear the head off of anyone who didn't deserve it. Although I was undoubtedly audibly upset on the phone, I didn't rip into either of the people I talked to and reiterated, "I know it's not your fault, but I'm really upset that this happened" and similar things. I worked retail for 17 years; I would never be a jerk to someone just earning her paycheck. :)

I have a glorious cold at the moment--another reason why this made me go BOOM! instead of taking it in stride--so going over to the office to figure this out is going to have to wait, unless I want to go infect people (which I don't--I'm not THAT angry). On the phone, the doctor's nurse said it was what the doctor himself ordered and that the thyroid test would cost another eighty that's going to be problematic, because I shouldn't have to pay for a test that I did not want even if the doctor did make a mistake and ordered it.

But the problem I have now is, how do I communicate the idea that it was the doctor's mistake and that I'm not just trying to scam a free test? It's my word against his, basically, and no one ever thinks doctors make mistakes. I pay cash for all my medical care (such as it is) because I can't afford the kind of doctor who will bill people, so it's not like I can get the 80 bucks taken off my bill; they already have it.

I just don't know what recourse I have now, because I don't feel comfortable going back to this guy now. He basically overrode me and ordered a test that I told him I would have done later, but could not afford right now. New Orleans has a real medical care problem and has for five and a half years; everything else has come back pretty well, but a lot of doctors left town and never came back. It isn't a case of "Oh, just go to another clinic." There aren't that many to choose from, and this was the cheapest I could find. So I'll have to try to straighten it out with them, but...feh, I don't know, I just don't trust a doctor who doesn't seem to believe me when I say that I don't have money for tests that aren't 100% necessary to do right now.

As for the not wanting to know my numbers, my mom had her first heart attack when she was 46 and died of one very suddenly when she was 62. I went to a fair amount of counseling (back in those balmy days when I had health insurance ;) ) to get past the feeling that my heart was a ticking time bomb and the obsessive thoughts that went with that. In almost every other aspect of my life, I have very much a "knowing is better than not knowing" attitude, but that really caused a flare-up of the old obsessive thinking.

On the bright side, I got a lot of work done while not sleeping because I couldn't stop listening to my heart beat. :D

I'll get it worked out somehow and I am feeling a fair bit better today, but I wanted to say thank you for all the sage advice I've gotten here. :hug:

04-20-2011, 02:14 PM
Do you have a copy of the Lab order (if you don't the dr.s office should)? Because if it says it is for your thyroid levels, they will do a blood draw without you paying for it!

This was my first thought, too. Be sure the order from your drs office was correct. If it wasn't, then ask them to redo it at their expense.

Also, someone mentioned the lab keeping the vial for 7 days. If that is the case, then you should be able to get the test done without having to go back in.

Also, is this test a fasting test? Cholestorol tests are. If you were not fasting, then I'd question the results of that test as well, even tho it was not supposed to be done.

Amanda is right. Breathe first.

04-20-2011, 02:51 PM
The endocronologist I used to see had me come in for thyroid bloodwork. I went after work, so my appointment was at 6pm. When I went back for the results, they told me "oh, your cholesterol was really elevated. You need medication." I told them they weren't supposed to have done cholesterol bloodwork, which is a fasting blood test. My appointment was at 6pm-that doesn't even make sense that someone would take that test that late in the day. They had me do a fasting cholesterol blood test the next day, and my cholesterol was sixty points lower!

I really hope you can get it straightened out. You should not have to pay for another test since someone at the office made the error.


04-20-2011, 03:17 PM
"I was under the impression because my medication is up for refill that I was getting my thyroid checked as well, I didn't come in for anything else. I specifically came because of my thyroid medication which requires a test every 3 months so I can get an adjustment and refill."

That show 1- you needed it, and 2- you aren't calling the doctor an idiot.

DixC Chix
04-20-2011, 03:56 PM
Yes but you also have to fill in the codes, if you saw circles missing you should have said something right there about missing circles or taken the paper back to the office and said that stuff was missing.

They probably didn't do the other tests if you didn't have the appropriate codes written in.

I hate to hijack the thread from OP... but this is how wrong tests get ordered.

I ran in to pick up the order that afternoon (thinking that it would be what I had just (1 hour before) discussed with the assistant and repeated to make sure she got it, you know the old active listening technique). It wasn't ready :( so the assistant got a form and wrote my name and filled in a couple of dots. She probably put a Dx code for fat old lady on it. :D I didn't have my glasses with me (dang the print is soooo small) but I squinted and caught that she didn't have the TSH panel included (the main issue) or the lipid panel and returned it to her. :mad: You would have thought I was asking for a kidney! She fiddled with the form with a bit of attitude which I suspect was not wanting to admit she made a mistake! (She didn't keep a copy - is that SOP?) I thought she understood what I asked for as I did see a dot in the area of the TSH panel but when I got home I saw (with glasses) it wasn't the whole panel and still no lipid panel. It was time sensitive to get the blood work done the next a.m. for the results to get back to them for my appointment. All the results were there to discuss with my dr.

There was no doctor involved with my lab bring on the paperwork police. (I don't see how this is different than a health fair or lab tech practicing on me.)

The whole experience with the assistant(s) was a huge clusterfu*k. I don't like to do things like this and it pi$$es me off that I have to resort to it. I would prefer to have confidence in medical personnel involved with my health care. But experience has taught me that I have to be my own health advocate. I read and research about my all conditions - especially tests and what the results mean. I am no longer a sheep. I want to talk to the dr about the results not an assistant with a generic response. I don't like to pay the fee for two draws because the original order was incorrect or incomplete (and I want to avoid the extra unnecessary poke and the inconvenience).

04-21-2011, 12:44 PM
DixC - I would say that the way your paperwork was handled was not SOP.
But, the way things are supposed to be done and how they actually get done are sometimes two different things.

Lab tests are supposed to be ordered by the doctor. That's why you can't just walk into xyz lab or hospital and ask for lab tests that you want performed (at least in the state that I live in).