Friday, July 31, 2009

The mammogram chronicles - part 9: All's well that ends well?

(I never finished my mammogram story because I'm so disgusted with the entire episode I’m too disillusioned even to complain. But for the record, here's a rundown of my final visit.)

I showed up on time for my ten o’clock appointment on May 25. I took a queue number and sat down. After ten minutes, I was able to sign in and take care of the SEK 300 (USD 40) co-payment. I had hit the co-payment limit (SEK 900 per year) so I qualified for free health care for one year. The receptionist made me a validation card and I sat down to wait again.

At 10:25, I reminded the receptionist I was waiting. She said she would check on it. At 10:35, I went back to the receptionist and asked what the delay was and said I had been waiting for 35 minutes. She said I was mistaken about the time – my appointment was for 10:30. (She tells me now?) I showed her my appointment confirmation sheet that clearly said 10:00. As we were discussing the matter, a nurse came out and called my name.

But now I was very annoyed and decided to make trouble. I pointed out that if patients have to wait more than 20 minutes for an appointment they are entitled to free care (i.e. no co-payment) even though this meant I would lose my “free care for a year” card. Now she had to invalidate my card and reprocess me while both the nurse and I waited. The nurse was getting impatient and I was maliciously gleeful about causing extra delay.

As the nurse and I walked back into the examination area – it was now 10:40 – I told her about the mix-up in appointment times. She said tersely, "We are responsible for appointment times, not the front desk," and acknowledged they were running late. As an afterthought she offered a brief apology, but no explanation, for the delay.

I waited five minutes in the examination room. A frazzled-looking doctor walked in. She reported that the mammogram was normal. I sat and she looked at both breasts. She quickly ran her hand along the side of one and said everything was fine. I asked about the cause of the pain. She said no one knows why women get breast pain (not a word about fibroid tissue), that it was nothing to be concerned about, and if I had a lot of pain she could prescribe something. I declined. Visit over. Five minutes.

And that concludes "specialist" breast care in Västmanland!

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