I’m getting to that age where my social life revolves around my doctors’ visits. I have another appointment next week at a clinic where I have been seen twice before in the past, but somehow they have no record of my visits. So I have to arrive a half hour early to fill out paperwork again. I wouldn’t mind so much if I thought anybody actually LOOKED at the paperwork (other than proof of insurance, which always gets first priority), but I seriously have my doubts about the rest.
For example, why do they hand you a clipboard with fifty forms to fill out and on ALL of them you have to put your address? Couldn’t the address just be transferred over from the first form? After all, it doesn’t change between form one and form forty-nine. And your birthdate. THAT doesn’t change either, unless of course you are so embarrassed at writing that incredibly ancient year over and over again that you decide to fudge a little toward the end. Sex could possibly change depending on whether the patient feels like a female on forms one through thirty, then feels more like a male from thirty-one on. In this day and age, that’s perfectly acceptable, although it could make for difficulties at the OB/GYN appointment. But what does my grandmother’s maiden name have to do with my back pain? Or my marital status? (Okay, for those of you with your mind in the gutter, I’ll have you know we took the trapeze down a long time ago.)
Then there are all these questions about your medical history. Now being a medical professional, I understand the importance of medical history, but is it really relevant that I had pink eye in 1982? Or motion sickness in a small airplane ten years ago? There are pages and pages of every conceivable condition ranging from near-sightedness to scurvy. Family history is, of course, pertinent. But does my third cousin’s twice removed gall bladder surgery really apply all that much to my situation? (Twice removed cousin, not twice removed gallbladder.) By the time I finish up with form fifty, I need to add “writer’s cramp” to the list.
As I finally turn in all the paper work and make it back to an exam room, I can tell nobody looked at any of the forms I so painstakingly filled out because the first question from the health provider is “What are we seeing you for today?” I am always tempted to reply in a snarky tone that if the provider had taken two minutes to look at my paperwork, he would KNOW what I was there for, as the problem was listed on at least twenty-eight forms. But of course I am much too polite to say that. Plus starting off the visit with a snarky tone might get the PA (as you never see an actual DOCTOR until visit nineteen) mad at me, which I really don’t want to do, as he might put me through unnecessary painful and expensive tests. So I nicely answer the question, and from the direction the rest of the exam takes, I can tell he is not the least bit interested in my case of pinkeye in 1982. In order to be thorough, I kind of want to bring the pinkeye to his attention, but I don’t want to be labeled as a high maintenance patient who can’t keep her mind on relevant issues.
I am already dreading filling out those forms. However, I’m thinking I might have a little fun, as well as testing the staff to see if they actually DO look at them. I believe on form thirty-six, under “other” condition, I’m going to write in Ebola. Or Leprosy. Or Bubonic Plague. Or perhaps “all of the above.” Hee hee!
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