Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is there a doctor in the house?

Following our trials with Emily (and I do wish she had let me take a picture of her hives; they were totally awesome), I can wholeheartedly say that I have had it up to here with ad-hoc medical care at walk-in clinics and ERs.

Aside from the misery of not being able to make an appointment and therefore having to wait 45 minutes to two hours to be seen by a doctor, there is the complete lack of follow-up or longer-term care for chronic conditions. And maybe I'm being unfair, but I really question the quality of care one receives at walk-in clinics. A few examples:
  • Doctor at walk-in clinic took one look at Emily's throat and immediately -- and I do mean immediately - it was less than 10 seconds -- concluded that she had tonsilitis, and prescribed antibiotics. No swabs to confirm whether it was bacterial or viral or even if it was something else (as it turned out to be).
  • Same doctor, a week later, after Emily breaks out in monstrous hives: again takes a 30-second look at Emily and concludes she is allergic to Amoxicillin. No consideration of alternative causes for the hives or questioning of his original diagnosis.
  • Doctor at walk-in clinic failed to advise that the Benadryl needs to be given around the clock or the reaction will come back even worse than before. (Emily was so exhausted that we let her sleep for 14 hours. She woke up with a swollen face and lips, which prompted the visit to the ER.)
  • Doctor at ER failed to advise that Emily should not be involved in any contact sports for at least three months.
  • Twice now we have had to go from one clinic to another because of unplanned/unposted office closures.
  • At one clinic, the office staff were 45 minutes late opening the office.
  • At one clinic, the doctor on duty took a break mid-shift, to go run some errands. The desk staff weren't sure when he'd be back. (We left.)
  • The nurse at Telehealth Ontario spent about 30 minutes on the phone with me and asked a lot of questions, but did not second-guess the original diagnosis of tonsilitis or ask me if the diagnosis was backed up with any lab tests.
All in all, it's just shoddy care, and I don't have faith that it will be enough for our family, given that we have some chronic conditions (mental health concerns, diabetes, hypertension). We arrived here in July with three months' worth of prescriptions; those are about to run out.

So, with all this misery, why don't I just go to a family doctor, you ask? I would love to! But the doctor we had before we moved to Colorado has since moved to Toronto, and there don't seem to be any doctors accepting new patients in the Ottawa area.

Actually, that's not entirely correct. There is at least one practice accepting new patients, but the online reviews, which I do take with a grain of salt, for that doctor sound awful -- and alarmingly similar to our walk-in clinic experiences. (Incidentally, our previous doctor gets very favourable reviews. Sigh.) In the best of all possible worlds, I would be able to interview potential family doctors, to get a feel for their views and how well they jive with my own. Evidently that is not going to be the case!

I am aware that Canada is suffering a shortage of doctors (and of nurses). Many of our homegrown medical professionals are drawn to the U.S. where they can earn significantly higher incomes. The dearth is becoming more severe as the population ages and requires more intensive and frequent medical attention for chronic ailments.

Does anyone in the Ottawa area know of any GOOD family doctors who are accepting patients -- or would make an exception for us?

No comments:

Post a Comment

What did you think? Any comments?

Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...