The trials and tribulations of medical bureaucracy

I’ve had a wonderful ghastly two days trying to fight my way through a tangled thicket of medical bureaucracy.  This is all to do with getting copies of reports and tests that were done on me in the mid-2000’s, and which must now be repeated.  Would you believe that bureaucrats completed all the paperwork years ago, in accordance with the then-current edition of the guidelines concerned, but neglected to get everything finalized at the time?  Now, because of their negligence, I have to re-do it all, at considerable delay and expense, because the guidelines have changed by one edition since then.  I’ve protested vigorously that I see no reason why I should be penalized for the mistakes of others, but these are bureaucrats.  They don’t care.  They’re not personally responsible or accountable.

It took me most of yesterday to clarify matters to that point.  I was informed I’d have to provide copies of the initial tests and evaluations (from five different specialists and/or medical practices) as background material for the new evaluation.  No, the bureaucrats wouldn’t provide copies from their files – I had to get them from the centers that had performed them.  Copies from third parties were not acceptable.


This morning, I started trying to locate the records.  The fun began when I was informed that the evaluation center that performed my final assessment had been sold shortly afterwards, and the specialist who conducted the assessment had retired.  The corporate HQ of the hospital chain concerned initially said they couldn’t help me locate records;  but when I pressed the issue, I was put through to a lady who told me that I could contact another company that was now responsible for all the records from that facility.  So far, so good.

I contacted that other company, by telephone message and via a form on their corporate Web site.  The telephone operator returned my call to say (initially) that she had no record of my case at all, and I’d have to get back to Company #1 to find out what they’d done with them.  She later phoned back and left a message saying she had located my name in the records after all, but that I still had to phone Company #1 and give them a long numerical code, so that they could locate the records in their system, confirm they were about my case, then authorize Company #2 to release them to me.

Meanwhile, an initial e-mail response to the same query via the Internet led to someone trying to sell me physical therapy services at an establishment run by Company #2.  When I demurred, and explained what I needed, the person concerned told me that she couldn’t help me.  However, a couple of hours later, someone else from Company #2 e-mailed me to say that they could help me, and would I please fill out the attached HIPAA form and return it so they could find and release my records to me?

When I tried to get the lady on the other end of the telephone and the lady on the other end of the e-mail (both from Company #2) to talk to one another, the system melted down in chaos.  I’m still not sure that they haven’t entered into some sort of fusion reaction with each other, consuming my records in the process.  I’ll have to continue tomorrow morning, trying to get both halves of the conversation to give me a single, common answer as to how to get the information I need.

Then I have to repeat this process for four more medical specialists and/or practices.  The only consolation is that the records were compiled before Obamacare set in.  If they were post-Obamacare, they’d probably have been sold to China already for use as landfill.

I suddenly understand H. L. Mencken’s perspective a great deal better . . .




  1. Do you have the ability to do three-way calling from your number?

    Maybe you could get them both on the line at the same time?

  2. I think that is the biggest failing of bureaucracies is that the people implementing it have no skin in the game WRT what gets done, or how it gets done. There is no accountability. Until THAT changes, they won't change.

  3. And the lesson to be learned from this is to always get copies of everything medical at the time it is done. It was never easy to get copies very long after, but HIPPA has made it much more difficult. In part because very few actually know what it says since it is written in government bureauspeak.

  4. I am lucky to be blessed with good health so far … Accept having to occasional argue with a doc about my NOT going on blood pressure meds. For some reason they lack faith that I don't need them. If I am sick I am not work efficiently, if I am not working efficiently I am getting behind; it is stressful. Lol

    Hopefully you have gotten it all worked out now.

  5. Regarding Mencken's quote, I had reason to use it yesterday. The whole socialized medicine situation is beyond frustrating; if you remained calm, you're a candidate for early sainthood!

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