Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Group Health update

I also should bring you up to date on my continuing dialogue with Group Health regarding my lack of a treating oncologist.

When I returned from my visit to Kentucky yesterday, I emailed Dr. G at Group Health:

Dear Dr. G***,

Wow. It has been 18 full days since your first response to me but nothing since. I cannot tell you how very disappointed I am in this. Perhaps you could please do so?


I then received this response from him today:

Hi Regina,

I have forwarded your message to the doctors in Oncology and they are ready to help you with your care. Do you have an appointment with any of the doctors in oncology? Dr. C** said they would be glad to see you and work with you on what was needed.

My response to Dr. G:

Dear Dr. G***,

As I put in my first email to you, I was asking for an answer to the question of whether I could get a referral to a lung cancer specialist. So I must interpret from this email GH's response is "No, GH will not refer me to a lung cancer specialist."

Why is it that no one at GH would say "no" to my original question? Instead, I was directed to 4 separate entities and finally I stopped the merry go round and addresse[d] it to you. And yet no one has yet said the word "no." You might want to consider why this is.

What it has meant is almost a month's delay in obtaining a treating oncologist. What I've been offered, via a form letter, is a referral to a doctor who is currently based in Tacoma, but who will be moving up to Group Helath [sic] when you find a replacement for her in Tacoma. I have absolutely no idea of what her curriculum vitae looks like, and whether she has treated lung cancer patients and is familiar with the treatment modalities and clinical trials particular to NSCLC. The form letter was generally designed for all cancer patients. Cancer is the one medical condition where one size really does not fit all. But that is the way that Group Health organizes and manages itself to deliver medicine. Which in most instances achieves favorable results. However, not in cancer. I have a dear friend who is also a cancer patient at GH and I've shared some of my experiences and stories with him about my treatment at GH and he was not surprised. Because he has his own.
I have an appointment with Dr. C******* tomorrow at 4pm to review my ct scans which will be taken earlier that day. Then we will move on from there.

Thank you.


I guess what has really surprised and depressed me during all of this, is that no one at Group Health appears willing to make the tough decision.  Which really isn't all that tough, if you think about it.  All it consists of is saying, "No."  I talked about it today with a fellow attorney who has had a few intense medical experiences with Group Health of her own, and is one of the best attorneys in my practice at understanding medical records and deposing medical witnesses.  Her take on this is that doctors are conflict avoiders--they just don't like to say "no."  That seems true to me, as I contrast my career as an attorney who engages in conflict with that of the doctors I not only know but have been related to--from great grandfathers, to grandfather, to great uncles, to father, brother, and now daughter.  But it's better for me (and probably for more than just me) to have certainty, even if it is not the response I would like.  Because then I can move on.  Until I get that firm response, there is still an open question.  And a lot of mush to drag along.



Sally said...

Good thoughts coming your way today from Fort Wayne.


Anonymous said...

Regina, I have had many similar experiences with doctors over the past 6 years. I esp. noticed the negativity around lung cancer when mom had it about 14 years ago. I am so sorry that you are in such frustrating circumstances. I wish I could help. I feel like I'm doing great when I just decipher a bill and prevent my health insurance from scoring money from me that they don't deserve. Of course when we are old or sick, it's pretty hard to muster the energy to figure out all these things. I think they count on folks running out of energy and just giving up or in my case paying the money so they can quit thinking about doctors, disease bills, etc. I'll see you tomorrow at the walk. Don't know how far I'll get but I told Debbie, I'll see you in Red Square. Love,Kathleen cell 550-0279