Earlier this week I spent most of the day in the outpatient department of a local hospital with a family member. There were some things that bothered me when I had been there in the past and it was reinforced with this visit.
Possibility for Identity Theft:
In this day and age when identity theft is a rampant problem for American society, the hospital does not seem to take that into account. From the time a patient shows up to the time they leave, their name, address, and date of birth are read out loud so the patient can identify himself ... information that could easily be overheard by an unscrupulous person.
Arriving at the check-in desk, the first question was, "Name please?" After orally stating his name, the patient was then asked to sign in. Why not sign in first and then the clerk can see the name instead of having to speak it out loud in front of a room full of people?
Next, in the "office," another clerk filled in insurance information including name, address, date of birth, place of work, insurance info, and more. While the room has a door and appears to be private, the back opens into a hallway, and all "offices" open that way. While working with us, our clerk called out loud around the wall to the next clerk to ask a question about something. Info is easily overheard by those in adjoining rooms and by those passing in the adjoining hallway.
Lack of Privacy:
Once the patient is prepped for surgery, he is parked in a cubicle on the surgical hallway with much activity as employees rush back and forth working with other patients. There is a curtain to partition off the cubicle but it is usually not pulled unless a family member does so. People off the street walk by going to other cubicles; patients are wheeled past; employees walk by.
Another round of personal questions happens at that point. As I sat with my family member in the cubicle waiting for him to be wheeled into surgery, the nurses worked with the man next to us (I could not see him) and I heard the responses to every question. He had no privacy.
On the other side was a young person in for knee surgery. I heard it all ... questions and answers.
There is no privacy. There is no protection from possible identity theft. At a time when people in a medical situation need more privacy than at any other time, they do not receive it. I realize hospital personnel take these things in stride; one backside is the same as the next. However, there are patients' feelings to be considered and, again, identity issues to be considered.
Even the waiting areas are not private. I was sent to a hallway with sofas and chairs and, while comfortable, people constantly passed by traveling from one part of the hospital to another. A lady in a seating area beyond me was softly crying (it was 6:00 in the morning) and I could not help but think how sad it was that she had nowhere private to be with her emotions. While the person I was with was there for non life-threatening out-patient surgery, there are times when family members receive bad news from doctors about their loved ones ... cancer, terminal illnesses ... devastating news to absorb in a public setting.
When surgery was completed on the person I was with, I was called by a clerk to the phone to talk with the doctor. He did not even come out to speak with me personally.
In the waiting area, sitting near me, was the mom of the young man who had knee surgery. The doctor who performed the surgery came out after he finished, sat with her, and explained the surgery (again, I could overhear everything), and he took the time to answer her questions ... he had an excellent bedside manner ... and then told her to let him know if they needed anything or had any other questions, and then said, "God bless," as he turned to leave.
I made it a point to ask the identity of that young doctor ... an orthopedic surgeon that I would call on if I ever needed one. I had seen him in action and was impressed.
Charge for Filling Out Insurance Forms:
The insurance form needed the doctor's signature and information filled in. When I stopped by his office to leave the form, I was told there would be a $15 fee for filling it out. I was surprised and somewhat offended because the cost of surgery should easily have covered any additional cost for the time necessary to sign the form.
I was told they have many forms from many insurance companies, a point I could understand. However, in a pre-surgery visit to the doctor, the doctor charged $325 for a 20-minute visit (that did not include charges for surgery). The insurance form would not have taken longer than 15 minutes to fill out. If a clerk was paid $20 an hour, that would have been $5 out of the overall cost. I suppose I am offended that the doctor felt it necessary to charge an additional $15 instead of including that cost as part of the overall procedure.
This is not meant as a criticism but, rather, a questioning of procedures and whether there are better ways ... or perhaps I am being too sensitive. I have worked in a hospital in the past and tried to be careful and aware of patients' feelings and privacy. I must add that all the personnel and volunteers in this case were extremely friendly and helpful.
Have others encountered such situations? Feedback?