Common Medical Practice?

Does anyone besides me find it odd that medical offices always want to do routine updates to your basic files when you are sick? Shouldn’t this be done during routine exams instead? Just an idea here, but when we are sick isn’t the ideal time to have patients recounting all of their information.

With a sore throat bearing white spots, I showed up as requested for a throat culture. The office I go to has an outer vestibule that serves as the signing in area before proceeding through another door into the waiting room. There were six of us waiting there, filling the tiny cramped claustrophobic area that others who were trying to exit the building had to weave through. The family of Hispanics at the window were having difficulty understanding what the young woman behind the computer screen was asking for. With our county’s population of Hispanics increasing rapidly due to the Tyson Processing Plant and area farms, orchards, and crop and tobacco fields, I wondered why they didn’t have someone on the window who could speak a little Spanish. It would seem like it could be important to be able to communicate with all of the potential patients – but that is just my opinion.

Finally after standing for what seemed like a very long time – which may have had more to do with my severe headache and sore throat than a lack of patience – I made it to the window. Just a throat culture, simple – right?

Oh no, she wanted to update my records, everything from address, phone number, cell phone number, place of employment, their address and phone number, next of kin, etc. Seriously? What part of – ‘I have severe throat pain and do not wish to talk at all’ – was unclear? Do people have throat cultures when they have no throat pain? I finally suggested that she read off the information she had and I could nod or correct as necessary. I have been a patient here for longer than she has been alive, at least thirty years. Surely they have my information somewhere.

Finally we make it to the part where all I needed was my insurance card. I handed it over dutifully. But she doesn’t know how to find it in her list of codes. Again, this is the same insurance policy that I have had for fifteen years. She just doesn’t know which state the federal policy is under. You read that right. I kept trying to explain that it isn’t any state policy – it is a Federal policy. ‘Is it NC, I see NC or even SC.’ I just suggested she make a copy and let me go back to the lab as I really didn’t feel good. She did as I requested, and told me that I could take a seat and under her breath she said, ‘But you still aren’t going to be seen until I find the right policy code.’

God only knows which state she coded it under. I’ll argue with someone over the bill when I don’t have a sore throat.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.



  1. I wonder whether you could have gotten away with “look at my file/make a copy of it” repeated over and over. It IS ridiculous to have to do all that every time if you are not new to an office. So I’d only ask whether you are allowed to order your own throat culture without seeing the doctor first? My diagnosis is that you have a strep throat, but that’s just from my Mother School training, not Med School.

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