Posts Tagged ‘electronic medical records increases mistakes’

From Crisis to Cocoon: The Electronic Repudiation of Humanity

April 23, 2010

Yesterday I posted “The Funny Before the Storm”.  Here comes the storm.  Let me move through this post because I almost busted a gut, the agita and aggro were enormous,  and I really do not want to re-live all the stress that befell me.  Alas, some of the issues are still not resolved.

America has become such a burgeoning repository for “bigger is so much better”, bureaucracy and bullshit.  With the widespread use of voice mail and Email, the depersonalization of our nation is just about complete.  The two electronic types of mail have allowed our government, retail outlets, service enterprises and corporate entities to discard any semblance of responsibility in honoring a contract or obligation.  Why be answerable to any committment if you can hide behind empty electronic conduits?

Allow me to share with you the events of the past week that have brought me to the edge of sanity.  By the way, I have been told that my responses to the various acts of incompetence were a violation of polite protocol.  Thus, the guilty parties once again avoided resolving the initial issues that caused me to cross the line of political correctness (God forbid) by responding to my “sarcasm” rather than their substantive mistakes.  Great avoidance strategy —- for them.

At work, I was due a credit by one of our vendors who supply us with electronic assistance.  I spoke with the VP (VPs, especially executive VPs, seem to be a dime a dozen) and she agreed the charge was inappropriate and that she would credit our account accordingly.  A month passed, and I received a new bill, still without the credit.  I spoke again with the VP and told her an Email to whomever was in charge of issuing credits was not resolving the issue.  I told her that she would have to get up from her chair, walk over to the person in charge of issuing credits, actually speak and communicate with another human being and wait there until the feat was accomplished.  She called me back in ten minutes, said I had been right and voila, I got my credit.  My dear managers: requesting something by Email is not the same thing as getting the job done.  It is simply passing the buck.

Without providing details, know that I had business with a bank, one with which I have had a seven-year, active relationship.  Documents needed to go back and forth, but a sweet, saucy little gal decided to put these docs into the electronic ether world (perhaps “netherworld is a more apt term), passing them on to some other buck-passer and considering her job done.  Twice these papers sat, on her desk and in Email, for three weeks.  Finally , an executive VP called her and got the ball rolling.  This VP thought I was out of line by suggesting that perhaps she should make contact with this do-nothing employee.  After all, it seems the greatest care must be taken not to step on your co-workers’ toes or violate the “chain of command”.  Servicing the client does not hold any water.  Corporate correctness is so much more important than fulfilling a client’s contract.  The term “service” is as dated and useless as is the rotary phone.  To make a long story short, after having experienced the incompetence of the employee-conduit (An empty job justified by what?  Who was this cutie pie sleeping with at the bank in order for her to keep this job despite her deep incompetence?  For every month of her delaying tactics in preventing this new loan, at a lower rate than the old one, of raking in the higher fees from me, was she cut a bonus check borne on my back?) the VP went back and threw the final resolution right back into this idiot’s hands.  You know you are really in trouble when the problem gets assigned to the “conflict resolution” department.  Then when I exploded at the repeated stupidity of management, I was deemed the person doing the violating instead of being violated.  Never mind that their practices of incompetence were so deep that they bordered on unethical; no Siree.  It appears my honest, angry response was the crime here.

Third example.  The gravestone for my Dad has been completed since late January.  However, the employees of the cemetery in N.J. needed some spice and drama in their lives.  I guess you could chalk this up to the fact that they deal with dead people all the time, which does not lend itself to excitement.  At any rate, it has been almost three months and the powers-that-be at the memorial park have yet to prepare the foundation so that the stone can be installed.

I want you to call this main number for the cemetery, 201-262-1100,  and listen to the recording.  I promise you: no live human being will ever answer the phone.  It will always be a recording.  Experience for yourself the authoritative, commanding aggression of the New Jersey roller derby queen.  Talk about creating firewalls.  Would you even attempt to take your inquiry even one step past this warrior?  I did.  I was also called “sarcastic”, the crime of the century.  Not the fact that the monument for my father’s grave has been sitting around for three months.  Call the number.  Get your laughs.

Finally, I was tortured this week by my health insurance company, who, after one month of trying to rectify a prescription order, still has not delivered any resolution.  The firewalls established by Wellpoint are so deeply ingrained that even their own executives cannot get past them.  I have spoken with so many VPs that it would make you dizzy: the VP of Pharmaceutical Services, the VP for Prescription Fulfillment and the VP and Manager for Pharmaceutical Solutions.  Trust me: there is no “management” going on and there certainly has been no resolution.  Hell, these executives, masters of passing on the contractual servicing of their clients, wouldn’t know the meaning of the words management and resolution if they smacked them squarely in their faces.  They know, as well as I know, that by delaying any corrective measures, their goal is the hope that the policyholder will just give up.  They picked the wrong policyholder this time.  Do me a favor: give VP Mike Lindsay a call at 972-599-6258 and tell him to A) return my calls and B) get on the stick and comply with his contractual obligations.  I have had it.  Time for me to go public.  All reason has failed; the time for reciprocity of harassment has come.  I appreciate your support.

Finally, the nonsense and avoidance practices of health care insurance companies are disgusting.  My experiences aside, I have always preached about the folly of electronic medical records, mainly because I believed that one’s medical records should remain private, not floating out there in the electronic ether world, just ready to be accessed by anyone, especially one’s own insurance company, who will use it against the policy holder to either deny or rescind coverage.  With the passage of the HCR bill, mandating that everyone must be covered and no insurance company may refuse insurance due to a pre-existing condition, my initial opposition to electronic records supposedly has no more validity.  Wait:  read this article about Wellpoint (not them again — the irony of it all) cancelling the coverage of their clients who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Additionally, a recent report has admitted that the mistakes made by doctors and health care professionals using electronic records has been substantial.  Perhaps the physician did not bother to check the name of the file on his computer before writing a prescription.  Perhaps he forgot to advance the screen from an earlier patient’s records, and the records on his screen are not at all that of the patient he is currently seeing.

O the humanity!  Or lack thereof.  That is clearly the problem.  There is no humanity in electronic medical records.  The publicly stated (over and over again) purpose for digital medical records was to make it less likely for doctors to make mistakes.  It appears the opposite is true.

In fact, in our hip, electronic, modern world there is no longer the need for contact and communication.  The new World Order is to go electronic, as if by doing so the problem has been resolved.  When life, government and business are wholly focused on the biggest (and thus, supposedly, best) scenario as possible, the advent of electronic transmission of information takes precedence over delivering the requested, necessary action.  Quality is abandoned for quantity.  No humanity there.  Passing the buck has become our national excuse for fulfilling one’s job description.  Purpose is subjugated and absolutely secondary to the digitization process.

Enough.  On with my battles.  Sorry to have unloaded on you.  I am going to try to attain cocoon status now for the weekend.


Flash! This just in: the cemetery just called me and the foundation has been installed.  But please do still call the cemetery to hear that wonderful recording.  The amazon on the tape is ten times more New Jersey than any of Springsteen’s women.