#mental health

The Problem With Doctors

Well, the problem is not with doctors themselves but when you have multiple doctors and the “failure to communicate” to quote Cool Hand Luke.

This is a relatively new issue for me. Most of my early adult life was spent in the military. So most doctors were in one building, the base hospital. For soldiers that were assigned to units other than the hospital itself, they had a “Battalion Aid Station” (BAS), basically an Urgent Care center. They could go there for “sick call” (early morning time for folks with colds, injuries etc..) and usually, they saw a P.A. (Physician’s Assistant). If they needed specialized care they would have an appointment made for them or were sent to the ER if needed (i.e. a broken bone that needed to bet set immediately).

Once they were under the care of a specialist, a surgeon, urologist,  internal med, orthopedist or OB/Gyn for the ladies, they would stop by the BAS, get their medical records and go to the appointment. This way the specialist had all tests, x-rays, lab work etc.. right there for each and every visit. It was a fairly good system. And if one doc had a question for a doc in another department, it was a simple walk down the hallway or just a phone call away.

What do we have now? Multiple specialists spread all over creation who only talk to each other when the patient asks. And then only if “the situation needs it”.

Case in point. I had blood work done last week. I asked the lab tech if the results of the labs ordered by my primary care doc be sent to my bi-polar doc, and the labs ordered by my bi-polar doc sent to my primary care. “Nope”. It’s not on the order.

Now I understand HIPPA laws. Back in the day, when I was doing websites (thankfully I don’t so that anymore), the Christian group I was playing webmaster for (and yes I was a “Christian” at that time and belonged to the group) wanted a “prayer request” page.  When I pointed out that a page listing names and illness and such violated HIPPA laws, they didn’t seem to care. They wanted it anyway. When I refused to do it on the grounds that as the “webmaster” it would expose me to a federal lawsuit, they still didn’t seem to care. The “We’re should be allowed because it’s for a good cause” was the mindset. No need to say I am no longer a member of said group.

But back to the blood work.  So I had to call my primary care doc had her office fax over the lab work to both my cardiologist and my bi-polar doc. No worries there. Her office is quite up to standards electronically, as is my cardiologist. My bi-polar doc? Not so much. The young lady I spoke to was very confused as to what I need to be sent and to where. How difficult is it to understand that I need the lab results the doctor you work for ordered sent to my primary care doc? Apparently quite difficult, as she called me back several hours later asking why did she need to send the lab results that my primary care doc had over back to them? So again I had to explain I only needed the results that YOUR doc has sent to my primary doc.

One thing that would fix that is a general repository of medical records. A giant database that everything goes to and any doctor you see, whether it be a new primary care if you’ve moved, or a new specialist you need to see, can pull your data out of the “cloud”.  But that is not likely happen. Too many hackers and that would be a prime target. If that data was breached and held captive people would die.  And that’s not good.

But what about a scheduled day once a month for doctors to get together and discuss patients that they have in common. I imagine a “Skype” or a conference call, doesn’t have to be video, where doc “A” can talk about patient “X”‘s recent lab work, and doc “B” may express concern that it may be cancer, while doc “C” says, it may just be a drug reaction. I figure if every doc took one day a month to handle their patients with multiple specialists, they could discuss every one of those patients at least once a year, and maybe every 6 months, with as many of the other docs as could attend. Maybe I’m just dreaming, but there hs to be a better way for doctors to communicate.

Got any better ideas?

Peace,
B

World Mental Health Day

From Wikipedia:

World Mental Health Day (10 October) is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries. This day, each October, thousands of supporters come to celebrate this annual awareness program to bring attention to mental illness and its major effects on peoples’ life worldwide. In some countries this day is part of an awareness week, such as Mental Health Week in Australia

  • 1 in 5 (or 43.8 million) adults experience mental illness in a given year.
  • 1 in 25 (or 10 million) adults experience a serious mental illness.
  • 1 in 100 (or 2.4 million) live with schizophrenia.
  • 2.6% (or 6.1 million) of Americans have bipolar disorder.
  • 6.9% (or 16 million) suffer from severe depression.
  • 18.1% (or 42 million) live with an anxiety disorder.
  • 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness.

And yet:

  • Only 41% of adults with a mental health condition received help and less than 50% of children 8-15 received mental health services.
  • Only 36.9% of those suffering from anxiety receive treatment.
  • Less than 20% of Americans with moderate depressive symptoms sought help from a medical professional.
  • And 4% of young adults with self-reported mental health needs forego care.

These numbers are scary. As one with Bi-polar (“luckily” I’m type “2”, my manic phase is spending money, not rage), I understand the problems faced and the stigma that admitting you have a mental illness can bring.  I take my meds as directed, and they usually work. However, like everything else, some days they don’t.

I’ve walked into a car dealership and bought a new truck, on my lunch break, just because I felt it was time. I’ve also laid in bed wondering how many sleeping pills I had left, and would it be enough?

I have never acted on any of the suicidal thoughts I’ve had. I’ve come close, but my fear is that I’d screw that up too and be in a coma the rest of life and become even more of a burden on my family.

Many times mental health is not understood in the same way as physical health. If you have the flu, your coworkers usually don’t want you around because you’re contagious. But if your depressed or having an anxiety attack, and take a day off, they don’t seem to understand. I have been a firm believer in “Mental Health Days” long before I was diagnosed.

Here’s a link to a story out of the UK of a boss that “get’s it.”  Go read it and come back, I’ll wait for you.

Back now? Hope you enjoyed that story. It’s reassuring that there are other people in the world with the compassion to allow someone to take a needed break.

There are way too many different types of mental illnesses for me to list here. I know that several of friends, both in the real world and the online world, have some of the issues. I’d just like you to know that I’m here to listen to you. I’m not trained in counseling (although I was a paramedic for most of my military career), I will gladly listen and offer whatever help I can. There are millions of us out here with similar problems. We can help each other, along with trained medical folks. Get your counseling, if it helps, take your meds, meditate, follow whatever faith practice you like. We can do it.

Peace,
B