Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Beth tries to find a GP doctor; and gets close, if only she was pregnant

I have now become slightly obsessed after spending the entire morning calling every doctor number on the Victoria Island Health Authority and Victoria Medical Society List in my area:

#1) Dr. Luco – the administrator said he would consider me but then asked, “Are you on any pain medication.” Considering that I needed two VERY strong painkillers to sleep 4 hours and then another to sleep a few more last night I said yes. “Oh, the Doctor will accept no patients who take pain medication.” ?????

#2) Was referred to Dr. Rhone, who, if stories are to believed, does not believe in pills at all, to the point of refusing to prescribe birth control. I decided not to book an appointment

#3) Dr. Perera – a doctor who just graduated this year. She is interviewing and screening all patients. Do I want an appointment? I say yes and the first appointment is December 10th 2007. The administrator says it is at her home. I ask, “Is it wheelchair accessible?” The answer is no, there are stairs going to a basement suite. I ask, “Will she see me outside, in the driveway?” No. The administrator asks, “Do you still want the appointment?”

#4) Dr. Chandna – A very helpful administrator but who tells me that Dr. Chandna won’t see me as she is not in the office. She has a child and “her lifestyle is incompatible with patients with chronic conditions.” I am “incompatible” with her lifestyle? The administrator tells me that a very good male doctor, Dr. Friesen (sic) was taking new patients but is no longer. She explains to me that most doctors now are general practitioners and want to work with healthy people. I say that since my condition is so rare, that might be seen as an opportunity. She tells me not to think that way, as in order to treat me, a doctor would be taking time in which they could “treat” several other “healthy patients” which is what doctors now prefer.

#5) I ask her when I can call Dr. Friesen, since he was just taking new patients. She says next year, or maybe the year after that. This is the end of the Victoria Medical Society list of doctors taking patients

#6) The James Bay Community Health Centre – I was recommended to go here by my Neurological Physiotherapist. I called a month ago and they said to call back in January 2008. I thought I would plead my case with them to take me early. The administrator says the Clinic is not taking new patients before April 2008 and I should try the list of doctors taking patients of the Victoria Medical Society. I tell her that I have but…. At that point she shouts, “There is no help here!” and hangs up the phone mid sentence.

I go to the list from the college of surgeons. The newspaper has recently done an article saying how B.C. is the only province where a patient cannot see what charges have been made or what disciplinary steps have been taken against a doctor unless it goes to the severe step of tribunal, which less than 1% of the complaints do (the second most recent complaint is of a doctor who sexualized their patient by making personal comments on their appearance and personal life on two occasions – he has to now have a chaperone while examining the breast and pelvis of all female patients and pay $3000). Before I can access the list of doctors willing to take new patients, I have to agree to a waiver and disclaimer which states (among other things) that “The College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia does not assume responsibility, nor will it be liable, for damages incurred from use of or reliance upon information contained in the online directory.”

Cross referencing with RateMD, it is hard to find one doctor on this slim list that gets a score above 2.5 out of 5 which includes stories of a doctor delivering a girl and then asking the father he wanted the baby circumcised now or later at his office. I am thinking I need a bit more competency than this.

#7) I find Dr. Isaac, who not only has top ratings but also has experience with Neurological conditions. I call to book an appointment. I am informed by the receptionist that in terms of “new patients” he ONLY will accept maternity patients. “But I hear he has neurology experience…” The administrator agrees, but no. “What if I come and beg?” I ask. She tells me I can as he has a walk in on Friday mornings. “Has he ever accepted a patient who asked him at the walk in clinic?” Her answer: No.

And that is where it is at, I could I suppose call the doctor who now needs a chaperone; probably he will be accepting new patients...or maybe not.

Linda has suggested that we take out an ad in the wanted ads or the employment section of the newspaper. That's starting to sound not so crazy anymore.

P.S. - Dr. Perera - I go to beauty and other clinics which are in-home and they all have been made wheelchair accessible for me. So for a doctor to have stairs not only eliminates those in wheelchairs but walkers, scooters and other assistive devices. Thus, only the people who are fit enough or non-disabled can access the GP clinic and obtain medical treatment. This seems wrong to me. Why not throw in a few walls to climb over too and eliminate all but athletic patients? I did ask if she was planning to put in a ramp and they said no, not anytime soon.


kathz said...

It sounds ridiculous. Mind you, I don't know how funding works in Canada and wonder if that's part of the problem.

Meanwhile, I just hope something works out for you - and that naming the doctors works out as a good tactic.

Very best wishes - I don't know what more to say, except that I'm still thinking about that book blog - I may answer on kathz's blog rather than quaker fencer if that's ok. (and there's another one outstanding - and I'm busy - oh dear)

Sara said...

Holy hell! This sucks!!!

(I know; you know that already. But -- but -- shit.)

I don't suppose Dr. Perera would consent to taking tea at your house and, I don't know, maybe working in a little examination between buttered scones?

Right. I thought not. I bet she'd take 'em from a HEALTHY patient, though.

It sickens me that this is legal.

Zephyr said...

Good for you, naming the scoundrels. I can't believe that GPs are now refusing to see disabled patients. Gawd, they should have their medical license revoked. I suspect that's why my GP is so shitty - because I'm too much work for him.

Sober @ Sundown said...

And, I thought my healthcare sucked! I haven't found a doctor that could help me with any of my problems yet..... I'm not quite sure why I pay for insurance.

rachelcreative said...

I am absolutely stunned.

This is so wrong wrong wrong!

What a crappy situation. I have no advice, my words are failing. But wanted you to know I am reading. What is the point in becoming a doctor if you don't want to help sick people? Idiots.

em said...

Is there no recourse at all? IMO, naming them is good. But... I'm American so I don't know the laws up there. There *must* be something on the books about... this is terrible.

Elizabeth McClung said...

I hardly consider it some sort of actionable "naming and shaming" - THEY (the doctors) are the one who put their names up as open to accepting new patients - I called them all; I didn't get accepted by any of them. Since they don't have a problem having their names online with the Victoria Medical Society, I am sure they won't mind my list too.

What I find interesting is that if I looked up in the yellow pages for "plumber" and all of the people refused to come fix my sink becuase I was sick or in a wheelchair; it would be outragous and actionable and yet becuase they are (let's whisper the word so they don't hear us and get mad at us) doctors, I feel afraid. Or at least more afraid than I would of a plumber.

Lisa Corriveau said...

Plumbers aren't much different, actually. They have enough work that they have become EXTREMELY picky about where they work. They won't bother with a job that's too far from where they live, or that won't net them a lot of money for little work. We had to call three or four just to get somebody to give us an estimate!

Marla Fauchier Baltes said...

I am so tired just reading and imagining what you are having to do to get a decent doctor. I totally feel for you. Keep pushing. You deserve good care!

Zephyr said...

Ever consider using your writing skills and doing an expose on the shitty medical care you receive? Or do you think it would make things worse? Maybe you could contact a journalist and have them do it instead. Something needs to be done, dammit.

Sally said...

Zepher has it absolutely right - publish it - then move to the UK !
Seriously, this is not acceptable, for you or anyone. It is not humane.

Anonymous said...

I was just about to call Dr. Perera *sigh*. Its impossible isn't it? And it took me years apon years to even get a diagnosis for something really serious.

People that need help the most or have difficulty accessing services get totally screwed over in our society. In Victoria that has certainly been the case for me.

The only thing that has helped me a bit is going in and basically saying the problem can't wait and I need a referral.