Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Do All Doctors in Milwaukee Totally Suck?

Today Grace had an eye doctor appointment. This was her six month follow-up appointment for the glasses that she got in January after discovering she was crossing her eyes and is far sighted. I was looking forward to this appointment, because I had been noticing over the past week or so that Grace has been crossing her eyes again--even with her glasses on--after a few months of not crossing them at all, and I wanted to address my concerns with the doctor. She also had random complaints of headaches and not being able to see well over the past couple of weeks. And, her lenses were getting scratched up from the regular four-year-old wear and tear, so I wanted to get those replaced as well.

I was very proud of Gracie at her appointment today as she graduated from the picture eye chart that they used with her in January and at her three month follow-up in March to the grown-up letter eye chart, and she confidently read all of the letter that she could see to the optometric assistant. I noticed a slight look of concern on the assistant's face as Grace gave the wrong answers a couple of times, and I made a mental note to ask the doctor about that. The assistant did a few other basic vision tests, and we waited to be called by the doctor.

When the doctor called us back to his exam room, the first thing that he said to me was, "She seems to be looking over her glasses instead of through her glasses." I thought to myself (and I wish to God that I had said it out loud), "Yeah, you know that. Aaron told you about that when we brought her in for her appointment in March." The doctor did some additional vision tests, and after furrowing his brow for a moment, he went to grab a booklet and explained that he wanted to do a depth perception test. He ran through the test with Grace, wrote down some notes, and then said to me, "Her vision is worsening much faster than I would expect for a child her age." He told me that he wanted to put some drops in her eyes so that he could do some additional tests, but that he anticipated that Grace would need to wear an eye patch because one of her eyes seemed significantly weaker than the other, and that she would possibly be needing surgery in a few years if things progressed further.


So, the doctor put in the drops, and Grace and I wandered across the street to Starbucks for a Caramel Light Frappuccino (for me) and some organic apple juice (for Grace) while we waited for the drops to work their magic. Thirty minutes later, Grace was back in the chair in the exam room and the doctor was figuring out what her new prescription needed to be. He told me that they needed to make the prescription for her left eye significantly stronger because that eye was getting weaker, but that her right eye's prescription wasn't changing all that much. Then, he took her current pair of glasses out to a machine to "measure them".

When the doctor returned, he immediately asked, "Where did you get these glasses?" I told them that they were purchased right there in that office back in January. Here's the rest of that exchange:

Doctor: Really?

Me: Yep.

Doctor: You're sure you didn't have them done at a Lens Crafters or something?

Me: Yep, I'm sure. Never been inside a Lens Crafters in my life.

Doctor: So you had them made here?

Me: (frustration building) Yes I did.

Doctor: Because these glasses are wrong.

Me: *silent*

So, he was telling me that the glasses that I paid out the ass for six months ago, that my daughter has BEEN WEARING EVERY WAKING MOMENT FOR SIX MONTHS are "wrong". I asked the doctor to define "wrong", and he said that the lens on the left side was the complete opposite prescription of what it should have been. The lens was supposed to be -1.00, and it was +1.00. He told me that the lens was much too weak for Grace's needs, and that explained why she was looking over her glasses. She could probably see better without the glasses than she could with them, and I closed my eyes and gritted my teeth as I thought about all of the times that I lectured Grace to "look THROUGH" her glasses, "not OVER them." This is why she was having headaches. This is why her eyes were so tired at the end of the day. I gathered my cool and asked the doctor whether or not all of this would cause Grace long-term eye damage, and I could see the wheels turning in his mind, figuring out how he could reassure me as quickly and as convincingly as he could that she would be fine.

Of course, he said, the good news is that Grace's eyes really aren't as bad as he thought and that the patch and surgery looked less likely now. I agreed that this was good news, but as I was getting angrier and angrier and the likelihood of this appointment ending well was slipping away, I told him that I wanted to get her glasses with the CORRECT prescription ordered right away so Grace didn't have to wear these pieces of crap anymore. He agreed with me, and we walked over to the optician to explain the situation.

While talking with the optician, the doctor made it clear as a bell that he had written the prescription correctly for the glasses back in January, but that someone "in the lab" screwed up the lenses when assembling the glasses. The optician held Grace's glasses up and said, "Oh yeah, I can see here that the lens is wrong." I had to bite my tongue so I didn't scream out, "WHY DID THEY LOOK RIGHT TO YOU AS YOU PUT THEM ON MY CHILD IN JANUARY?!?" We ordered the new set of lenses, the optician told me they would be available in two days, and as I grabbed Grace's glasses away from him, the optician said, "Oh, we'll keep these. We don't want her wearing these anymore."

Right. Because her wearing these glasses for two more days would make a huge difference after she's worn them for six months. How stupid of me.

The real blow came when we went to check out and make another appointment for October and the receptionist told me that she would be able to give me a total of we owe for the glasses after she ran it through our insurance. This was it for me...I was already in the red, and I totally snapped. With tears in my eyes and the volume of my voice registering just below a mild roar, I told her in no uncertain terms that we would not be paying for these new lenses since their "lab" had totally fucked up. I let her know how fed up I was with all of this and how I sincerely hoped that my child wouldn't have problems in the future due to that office's negligence. She blinked at me and told me that she'd have to run the charges past someone, and came back a few minutes later to tell me that they would pick up the tab for the new lenses. Then she scribbled our October appointment date and time on the back of a business card and handed it to me without another word.

Ok, I know the receptionist was not the person to be pissed off anger would have been better directed at the doctor, who is ultimately accountable for the whole fiasco, and at the optician, who sent Grace and me home with faulty glasses in January without bothering to check them first. But, this is what happens when you mess with my kid. I go all gangsta. Well, white middle class mom gangsta, but gangsta nonetheless.

To wrap it all up in a bow, here's what I am most angry about and what I will be addressing in a letter to the eye care office's corporate folks:

1. The incorrect lenses were put in the frames.
2. The optician didn't check the glasses to ensure the lenses were correct before sending them home with us.
3. The doctor dismissed Aaron's comment at the follow up in March that Grace had been looking over the top of her glasses instead of through them. In fact, the doctor told Aaron that was normal.
4. The doctor never verified that the glasses had the correct lenses in March, even after Aaron's comment.
5. I was never given a direct answer as to whether or not the faulty lenses that my daughter wore for six months will cause her problems in the future.
6. I'm actually wondering if even her diagnosis is correct, and you can be sure that I will be making an appointment with another provider within days to verify the diagnosis.

Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis know that this is the second encounter that we have had with a shitty health care provider here in Milwaukee in the past couple of months (the first, of course, being my visits with the obstetrician from hell). I'm starting to wonder if Milwaukee is the place where powerless patients come to languish in a cesspool of mediocre-to-terrible health care providers.

And they better hope that those new glasses are in on Friday, or it is ON.


Angie said...

that doctor is a rectum. i wish i had a better eye doctor's name to give you, but i my precious eyes to the idiots at lens crafters. sorry you had a shitty day... :(

Bert said...

I can't believe they did that! And then, it sounds like, he didn't even apologize officially! Girl, I would switch doctors. (Which you'll likely do, without my suggestion.)