During my stay in Europe this summer, I was told I needed to do a biopsy for a tumor (which this post is not about). After the bothersome procedures, I met up with my doctor and then he went on an annual leave the following day. Naturally, I expected reports to arrive by mail but nothing came. After ringing in, all I received was a summary of my visit with the doctor and brief formalities. There were no images included in the reports whatsoever.
Puzzled and confused, I realized at that point that I needed to request a new ultrasound before going back home. I like to keep my records organized in a folder.
I called the hospital I did the core biopsy in inquiring about my mammogram & images. I was told there was nothing to give out. Any images they had are digital and usually are not given to patients unless another hospital formally requests them and this normally takes a few days to settle. If, and when, I decide to retrieve my images, I need to pay an additional fee to retrieve the data from their storage. This sounded seriously ridiculous to me.
Okay, so I thought I’ll be proactive and book for a new ultrasound appointment to avoid this fiasco. I had to make 50 different phone calls to 50 different places and then finally came to the understanding that IF I decide to make an ultrasound, I need to have a referral letter from my GP. This is not an option for me because of time constraint.
Okay so what’s the solution? I’ll just find a screening center with self-referrals so I don’t need to waste another 3 or 4 days seeing a GP. Over and above, I made another 50 phone calls and finally I found a private imaging center. I called them; I gave them my details and waited. An hour later, they call back saying they cannot take me in because the specialist finds it (probably) unnecessary. Fine. I find ANOTHER private screening center with self-referrals who tells me, while indeed they accept self-referral patients, they will still need to contact my doctor (who again happens to be vacationing somewhere around the globe). I overlooked the tendency to define to them what “self-referral” means.
I finally decided to contact a hospital outside my hometown (which will most likely be a commercial one) that can take me as a private patient, and even that is currently weighing the possibility of seeing me without a post-biopsy images which is the incentive behind requesting an ultrasound to begin with!
So here I am, having wasted an entire day doing absolutely nothing other than waiting by the land phone (and another 2 mobile phones) for clinics to call me just so that I can get one single friggin appointment to do an ultrasound screening that will probably take less than 30 minutes to complete.
While I acknowledge that our hospitals back home aren’t the most efficient; if there’s one thing I highly appreciate at this moment, is having access to medical services when I need them! Hospitals here in the Uk are masterful in receiving phone calls and they usually do get back to you, promptly, 90% of the time; however, for simple procedures like a blood test or an ultrasound- you need to go through all of these pointless and needless procedures that are frankly uncalled for. Back home, I usually just walk into a private blood laboratory and get my blood-works down without any referrals and then get the results faxed to my home on the same day. The same thing with ultrasounds or any other X-ray imaging. In a perfect world, it would be really nice if I could combine the positives of each medical system (here and there) to spawn the ideal one.
Meanwhile, I continue chewing on my apricot waiting for that damn phone to ring.