Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Disgraceful – even by Bleak House standards!

In early June, I had some kind of “x-ray” of my kidney and bladder as a follow-up to surgery I had in March. After a lot of back and forth, I was told I would be contacted in September(!) and the urologist would “explain everything” then. (See post Don’t call us, and you can be sure we won’t call you!)

September came and went, and I heard nothing. I figured I had fallen out of the system, but I didn’t care any more.

Today I received a letter in the mail notifying me of an appointment with a urologist on November 11, presumably to discuss the x-ray results from June, SIX MONTHS AGO! (Hell, why not wait until next June and make it a full twelve?)

I am completely disgusted with the urology unit at Bleak House (Västmanland County Hospital, Västerås / Centrallasarettet Västerås), especially since all I ever wanted a phone call and a chance to talk to someone for ten minutes about the x-ray results and my symptoms.

Needless to say, I am NOT going to this appointment.

It's a waste, and much, much, much too late.


  1. Norsk, I'm afraid, but really, American! Anyway, I'm guessing this is one of the DOWN sides to the socialized medicine that we generally think of as one of the really wonderful things the Scandinavian countries have? Or is it just this particular clinic?

  2. Oh, what a question! This particular clinic reeks (maybe because it's urology! I know - bad joke!). I'm not sure what the problem is there - I think they don't have enough staff, but they certainly do a terrible job administering the services they do provide. If you scan this blog, you'll see several entries about the urology unit. Today, for example, when I tried to call at 8:00 am during telephone time (7:00-8:30 am, Mon-Fri) to cancel the appointment, I got a recorded message telling me that all the "telephone times for the day are used up," and to try again tomorrow. This means I have to get on the phone at 7:00 am sharp tomorrow morning and keep calling until I get through and placed in the telephone queue. I will then wait on hold for half an hour or more until my turn. I know from experience it can take days to get through. And if I don't cancel the appointment (which I never made), I'll be billed the out-of-pocket cost, about $50. This is what passes for "customer service" in Sweden.

    And that's the crux of the problem. There's a lot of debate about whether or not health care in Sweden is underfunded and if there is a shortage of doctors (complicated questions) but there is no doubt that customer service across the entire business spectrum is woefully lacking, including health care. The sad part is that people just seem to accept it. But it drives me CRAZY! It's so disrespectful. In health care, you're just gum on the bottom of someone's shoe and our local hospital and its clinics are particularly bad at providing good service efficiently.

    I'm a staunch supporter of publicly financed and probably publicly run (depends on how it's done) health care. Sweden is just a good example of a bad system. Germany, France, and Canada, to name a few, all do it better. I once had an emergency visit to a Canadian hospital. By Swedish standards, it was heavenly.

  3. One more thing. I forgot to mention there is a de facto two-tier system for health care in Sweden (complicated to explain). Can you imagine a CEO of a major corporation putting up with this kind of nonsense? Not. ("Some pigs are more equal than others.")

  4. Aarrgh. What's the point of having tests done if no one is available to answer your questions within a reasonable period of time?

  5. To cover their asses. And they can claim they told me the results, which, technically, they did (after several phone calls on my part). So they did their "job." Whether or not they actually HELP the patient or LISTEN TO THE PATIENT'S CONCERNS is irrelevant. That has nothing to do with practicing medicine!

    By the way, I called again at 7.40 the next day to try and cancel the appointment. (I was going to call at 7.00 but was busy helping my daughter get ready for school.) The telephone times were all booked again so I would have to try again on Monday, and, apparently, they have changed the system so you agree to a callback time during the day so you don't have to wait on hold. But all the callback times were booked. In the meantime, I found out they accept email so I've set up a special email identity that allows me to send email messages to them. Gotta admire their efforts to make patients feel warm, welcome and respected! (Good 'ol email! Describe your problem in 10 words or less! (No, they didn't say that, but it's almost the same thing.) Twitter, anyone?


Är du svensk? Det går även alldeles utmärkt att skriva kommentarer på svenska!/Comments in Swedish are also welcome!