It was the last straw for me. I have been experiencing jaw pain for awhile and finally the pain was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t take it anymore. I made an appointment at the boy’s dentist for the following day.
I called my old dentist to get a copy of my last x-rays, since my insurance does not cover more than one set of x-rays in a one year time period. I needed to come to my new dentist prepared so I wouldn’t have to pay for new x-rays. The old dentist office told me they need my request in writing. I faxed it to them and a few minutes later they called me to tell me they received my fax, confirmed my email address, and told me they can’t fax it to me because it won’t work well. They gave me two options: email it to me or fax it directly to my new dentist (I thought it didn’t work over fax?). Since I didn’t have the fax of my new dentist in hand and I was by my computer (although they suggested I to call and get it and call them back), I told them to go ahead and email. They confirmed my email address and said they would send it.
I didn’t receive the email. Since it was the end of the day by this point, I figured I would check in the morning.
The next morning I still received no email, so I called the new dentist to get their fax number. Then I called the old dentist and said I didn’t receive the email and would be happy to give them the new dentist’s fax. The woman, who at first pretended to have no recollection of talking to me the day before, then said “I told you, it doesn’t work over fax.”
Clearly she did remember me. And clearly she did not remember telling me that she could fax it to the new dentist. Maybe she meant email, but fax and email are two very different words.
So I gave her the OK to email it. Again. She said the person who does this isn’t there and I said I needed it for today. She put me on hold and came back and said she would do it.
A few hours later, still no email. It was nearing the time for my dentist appointment, so I called the old dentist once again.
This time, the woman I spoke to — her name was Frances, although I don’t think she is the same woman I spoke to before — told me they don’t have anything in writing from me and they won’t send me anything without a written request. I told Frances I sent my request yesterday, someone called me to tell me they received it, and now I am just waiting to get the email with my records. I explained calmly that I called the day before and was told the email was on its way; I called again this morning and was told the email was on its way. I never received the email, so I just wanted it sent already!
Frances said she has no proof that I sent in request, and I need to send it again. I explained that I was home today becuse of my dentist appointment, and I don’t have access to a fax. I realize in retrospect that I might have been able to email them my consent, but she did not mention that as an option and I was too heated and upset to think of it myself.
She said I should get someone else from work to do it for me. I was frustrated and while asking someone else (although not from work) have been an option, why should I have to start calling people and seeing who can send a fax for me and hope it happens in time for the office to send me my x-rays? So I told her that is not possible, I already sent in my request, I know it was received, I am just trying to get my records.
Frances said, “You probably don’t need these. Your insurance will probably pay for new x-rays.”
What? How the hell would Frances know what my insurance does and doesn’t pay‽ Frances was so dead set against emailing me my records that she was literally going through each excuse she could think of, wasting much more time than it would have taken her to just SEND the email. And I happen to know that my insurance only covers x-rays once a year, so they wouldn’t actually pay. I feel bad for the patients that believe the stuff she makes up to get them off her back.
I told Frances once again that my insurance won’t pay more than once in a year. I just want my records to bring to my new doctor. By then I started to cry a little.
And then. And then Frances said, “Well it’s your fault you waited until the last minute to ask us for this.”
MY FAULT‽ Through tears, I told this woman that my jaw was killing me yesterday, I called the dentist, made an appointment for the next day, and called her office to get my x-rays. I told her there WAS no last minute because I was just trying to get my pain taken care of as soon as possible. You’d think someone who works in a dental office would know a little about pain.
My tears did not sway her. She said “This is office policy.” I asked, “What if you send them directly to my doctor, not even to me?” She said no. I asked if she could find out who I was talking to before who I know received the fax. She said no. I asked her if she could check to see if the fax was in my file. She said no.
At this point, I ws hysterical and out of ideas. Except for one.
I played a card that I save for only the most necessary situations. It is a card that will always work, but must be used wisely and with restraint. That card, my friends, is the HIPAA card.
Being someone who needs to lug a stack of medical records to every new doctor I see for my GI problems, I am well versed in the experience of obtaining medical records. As a result, I am very well aware of my HIPAA rights.
The HIPAA card must be used only as a last result so as not to dilute its potency. If everyone started throwing around terms like “patient rights”, the phrase would lose all meaning! Once this loses meaning, well, good luck at accessing your own information.
I said, still through tears, “I’m familiar the HIPAA act and I know my rights and I know I have a right to my medical records.”
She said she would call me back.
A minute later, she called back to tell me she (miraculously!) found the fax I sent the day before and said she will be emailing me my x-rays.
A minute after that, I had my medical records in front of me.
What did we learn here?
- We learned that dentist offices are just as incompetent as doctors offices.
- We also learned that HIPAA is a sacred word and must only be used in extreme situations.
- And we learned, as we always learn, that people are assholes.
And since I recently said I would counter negative posts with something positive, here is a funny video of Santana digging in the car (positive) to counter the fact that people are assholes (negative):
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