Yesterday, I had an annual check-up. The clinic where this specialist practices is off-putting to start...kind of like walking into a medical "factory farm". Where I check in looks like an airport...doctors' names hanging on signs from the ceiling with specific booths and check-in attendants. I dutifully queue up under my doctor's name. When I get up to the counter, the clerk hands me a sheet and says, "Check your name, address and phone number, sign and date". I looked beyond my address and phone number and saw they had me listed as a "smoker". That's when the fire ignited.
Here is the conversation:
Me: "Excuse me. There is an error. I have never smoked. Is this a typo?"
Response: "Oh, that doesn't really mean you are a smoker smoker; it is our way of helping tag your chart for filing, etc."
Me: "What...with a health risk I don't have, with false information that could affect both my insurance coverage and follow-up?"
Response: "Again, it is our internal code. I doesn't really mean that you are a smoker."
NOTE: Nowhere on the form is the term "smoker" explained with their "new" meaning. It is just listed as a line item as is: Smoker Y or N!
Me: "Remove it from my chart, please."
Response: She picks up the phone, calls someone and I hear her saying "Yes, I tried to explain to her that being a smoker on her chart was a code for us...blah, blah." She hangs up phone. Silence follows while she stares at me as we wait for someone to come from the back office.
Talk to the hand and get "smoker" off my chart!
Long story short, I got it removed from my chart. Just think if that had been passed on to my insurance company, become a permanent part of my history. Very, very upsetting. I wonder how many other patients in that clinic they have labelled "smokers". What if those same patients are trying to buy new health or life insurance? How are they supposed to explain "smoker"? Very, very upsetting.
And so, this Women and Wednesdays post is a head's up for all of us to read the forms we sign. Pay attention. Be present!!! And yes, I brought the form marked "smoker" home with me. xoxox