Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Some competence and some more incompetence

I was worried about how our appointment at Sick Kids Hospital would go on Monday.  The continuing incompetence of the administrative folk had me concerned about the overall experience at the hospital.  Of course the medical people there are much better than that but it seems to me that with enough incompetence in bureaucracy you can seriously affect patient care.

Thankfully the experience was fine.  Getting injected with radioactive goo was quite a trial and required attempts on both arms but eventually worked.  I debated trying to add some levity to the situation by joking about how Elli might turn into some kind of superhero a la Ninja Turtles, Spider Man, The Hulk, etc. but I don't think she actually has those cultural references yet and I might really confuse her.  In the end despite the pain and admissions of screwups it finally worked and I was really impressed with how well Elli took it.  It is tough when medical professions admit they are having real difficulty doing something right but although she was upset she held it together.

The rest of the medicine went off really well.  They had a selection of videos for her to watch while she was scanned which is fantastic (and that sort of thing is one of the reasons Sick Kids is great) and the doctors impressed me.  As usual the thing that I really approved of was their reticence towards excessive intervention.  They talked about the specific outcome we want and openly debated the necessity of further testing based on the middling results we received.  This is something I greatly value; physicians who recognize that testing has a cost and that it should only be done when the expected result is overall positive rather than always done as a precautionary measure.

Then my faith in the institution was trampled on again as I received a phone call to book yet another test.  The person on the other end couldn't usefully describe what the test was for, what it might entail, or indeed anything at all about it.  I get that people manning the phones don't have medical qualifications but at least they should have access to a popup window so they can give a canned description of a test.  After all, what use is a four letter acronym to a parent who wants to understand what it is they are booking?  I only need very basic information to make an informed decision and I couldn't get even that.  People love to complain about useless bureaucrats but you sure as hell notice when the bureaucrats aren't doing the job right - the challenge is to notice it when they aren't making mistakes at all.

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