Saturday, September 05, 2009

Medical Grievances

After being sick for most of the week two weeks ago, I was finally on the road to recovery last week. I had a nagging post-viral cough and no voice, but was pretty much able to function at work. Then, last Thursday, I was hit with a fever, chills, a stiff neck, and a sore throat.

I felt better the next day, so I went into work (probably not the wisest thing to do, in retrospect). By about 3pm, my symptoms had returned. While rest, Tylenol, and a super-hot shower that night definitely helped, I figured that I had better go see a doctor about this.

For the record, I did try to see my family doctor on Friday. Unfortunately, he was on vacation that week, and the backup doctor was already double-booked. This left me with two options: the ER or a walk-in clinic. Neither option sounded too peachy, especially on a Friday, and both involved lots of waiting.

That being said, I decided to go to the walk-in clinic when I realized on Friday night that I most likely had a flu.

I ventured out to the walk-in clinic on Saturday morning, armed with a book, water, and my portable radio (I am a CBC Radio One junkie). I ended up waiting for about 1.5 hours before I was seen. Not too bad for a walk-in clinic on a Saturday near lunch hour.

I guess I had high hopes for my visit, but they soon faded. The doctor who saw me was obviously too sick to be at work. Not only that, he didn't really listen to my symptoms. He was more worried about my sore throat than he was about my fever, chills, and achy muscles. He gave me two options: get a throat swab, or get a prescription for antibiotics.

"Why not do both," I asked. Once the swab results came back on Tuesday, I could fill out the prescription if it turned out to be bacterial.

Nope. It was either or. Not both. Apparently I had to see the doctor in person for the test results. I couldn't call in. And if he gave me the prescription, they wouldn't call me to come in for the test results. Huh? That just makes no sense!!!

Let's look at everything that's wrong with this picture. First, I have a family doctor. I couldn't see said doctor because he was on vacation. He is entitled to a vacation, of course, but you'd think that adequate back-up would have been provided. I should not have had to go to a walk-in clinic during normal business hours if I already had a family doctor.

Secondly, walk-in clinics are mostly a waste of time. They are too over-taxed. As a result, the doctors try to process as many patients as possible in order to keep things moving. This means that more often than not, you will get second-rate care. Besides, the doctors don't really know your medical history; they only have a snapshot of your current medical state. Sometimes that's okay, but sometimes it can be a real detriment.

Lastly, the doctor who saw me was sick. He was already not all that focused to begin with. Combine that with the conveyor-like nature of walk-ins, and you end up with crappy medical care.

Don't get me wrong - you can definitely get the conveyor belt treatment at a non-walk-in clinic too. I had that at my obstetrician's office when I was pregnant. I just find that it's extra-bad at walk-ins.

So in the end, I would've been better off staying home and getting some rest, rather than sitting in a germ-infested waiting room for 1.5 hours. I think I'll just ride this out for the rest of the long weekend and make an appointment with my family doctor on Tuesday of it gets really bad.
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