Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Doctor who Listens: Worth Their Weight in Gold

I appreciate that my experience with the medical system has changed what I expect of it, and has sensitized me to certain things. In particular, I blame part of what happened with my pregnancy and birth of my daughter as a failure of my health care providers to listen and understand what my needs were as a patient, and to facilitate those needs as best they could. I communicated my wishes clearly, and expected them to be respected.

As I've blogged about before, also as a result of what happened, I needed to find a new family doctor. It took nearly a year, but I found one. It is a new relationship - and like any new realationship, it is particularly fragile. We've had a few encounters - and while I think the new Dr. is a good person, I think that it just is not going to work out.

Advocating for oneself in the health system is already a challenge. Recently (now a month ago), I had some female oddness happen - I emailed an OB I knew and asked what I should do about it. I made an appointment with the GP - and the GP's answer was basically to just do another appointment for a pap (no physical was done at that time). I asked for a referral to an OB and that it seemed like a good idea for a pelvic ultrasound to be done. He ordered the ultrasound but refused to do the referral at that time. We did the ultrasound, and I had another appointment with him to discuss the results. My Mirena is partially imbedded in my myometrium. I decided to ask for the referral to the OB I prefer to determine what should be done. My GP is refusing to refer and insists on removing the Mirena himself (a. I'm not sure removal is fully neccessary and I'd like a second opinion on that, and b. if it does need to be removed, I'd prefer to have an OB (and preferably the OB in Vancouver) remove it because if there are any complications the last place in the world, I want to go is Victoria General Hospital). Last Monday his receptionist called - and told me that he'd prefer to remove it - I reiterated the request for the referral. I called today (10 days later) to see if the referral had been put through. It hasn't. This is the last time I'm asking for it - and frankly, this experience has demonstrated that he is not listening to me and makes me question whether or not he would listen to me in the future with any issues that may arise. I am frustrated and annoyed.

I think the hunt for a family physician for the W family is back on - and I foresee going to a walk-in clinic in the interim to get the referral I need to access the care I need.

If anyone knows of (or is!) a family physician in Victoria who is accepting new patients and who listens to their patients - I promise a low-maintenance and grateful young family.


  1. Argh, what a frustrating experience! I hope you are able to see an OB soon.

  2. When I think back to how things work in Switzerland, this burns me. Basically, you see a generalist or internist for the general stuff. Mine was able to provide me with intravenous iron treatments in the office (40 minutes long and only 1 treatment vs the iron product used in Canada, which takes 3 hours and 9 treatments).

    Then, she refers you to a specialist, or helps you find a specialist of your choice -- no referral necessary. I went to 3 OBs before I found one I liked, but none of them required her referral.

    It's the same in France -- no GP referral needed.

    We have this notion here in Canada -- or rather, the provincial health bodies -- have this notion -- that by allowing patients to self-refer we will be clogging up access to limited specialists and will waste health care resources.

    The problem of course, is that we have too few specialists -- the colleges need to give up on the control of numbers and we need to be honest about how much we are underfunding our health care systems, and the ultimate price we pay for underfunding health care (hint: it would be cheaper to provide adequate health care funding than this ridiculous system we are in now).

    And you would be surpassed about how OBs undertake their appointments in Switzerland. At the appointment, they use an ultrasound as part of the exam, saving time, money and stress for everyone. No separate bookings to an ultrasound clinic, and answers (and treatment) right away.

    Oh, and an added bonus -- none of those ridiculous examining tables. You sit in a chair, which can be moved around like a dentist's chair. As a patient, you don't feel like a naked specimen pinned down in front of a microscope, and feel much more empowered.

    Just some of the many, many reasons I want to move back!


  3. If you haven't dealt with the issues with your Mirena yet, I suggest you go to the Vancouver Island Women's Clinic. I'm pretty sure you don't need a referral, and Dr. Trouton is awesome.

    I'm not sure if he's taking patients at the moment, but I'm very happy with my GP - Mark Thiessen. His office is across the street from Uptown and they have a walk-in clinic there as well. When I can't get an appointment with Thiessen I go in to the walk-in clinic and they have access to my files - it's great! He definitely listens and is quick with referrals.