Friday, May 28, 2010


I finally tracked down a woman from patient relations at St. Joseph Med. Ctr., Burbank. It took a lot of detective work, since I found no phone number on the web site. Twice now I accidentally wrote customer relations. Actually, that’s perfectly reasonable since a friend taught me that in medical matters, I am the customer. Just look at the bills for my insurance.

The call turned out to be wonderfully validating and comforting. The woman listened better than I usually do. She admitted (how refreshing) that the scary call and the rest should not have happened. At the end, she assured me that she would pass the entire scenario to the head of the mammography center. When I told her I had blogged about this, she asked to read HENBACKTALK.

I reminded her that I want to reward the tech I met at the return visit. That person explained about older women’s breast tissue and why more films were needed. She would be a great person to train whoever calls women for follow up.

This was a big step for me. I am not good on the phone when it’s something personal, or something medical. I forget part of what I need to say.

Days later: a woman from the mammography unit did call me. She said she had taken action with the person who does telephone callbacks and with the radiologist. She reminded me that they also send a letter to my primary physician. She said patients could ask to talk to another person during the initial phone call. I assured her that on hearing the words “they found” a patient can basically go into shock and forget to talk to more people.

We did not enjoy each other’s tones of voice on this call. I felt that I was hearing justification. Finally she did assure me that no one would receive any more calls like I one that scared me, and she ended the call.

If you can possibly find it, I recommend How to Cope with Your Doctor. Bernard Virshup, M.D., Praxis Press.

Please tell us your experience or adventure complaining about anything medical.

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