I want to note here, that if I did not get this call, I would have had unnecessary Mohs Surgery. I was glad that the Mohs Surgery office takes the time to check to see that the people coming in for testing are appropriate and in need of the surgery. This is one example of having a system in place to check reports and confirm patients are appropriate prior to the procedure that can prevent a medical error.
What I learned from this experience
- Do not choose a doctor based on distance. If you are with an established organization that you trust, stay with them if new problems arise.
- When you get copies of your records, look at the dates of reports and highlight them. When I went through my paperwork, I realized what happened. The first dermatology office sent me the 2nd pathology report twice instead of the 3rd report. I did not pick up on this as the doctor listed the three options that were open to me so I ‘assumed’ it was the third report. If I would have looked at the dates, I would have noticed seen the problem.
- Going forward I am going to highlight the dates so I can make sure the dates standout. This would help pick up duplicates and ensure the date of the report coincides with the visit. I also recommend doctors’ offices/hospitals and other settings highlight the dates as well. Dates are critical to make ensure you are looking at the right information in order to make correct decisions.
- Insist on communicating with one person at the office to avoid mix-ups. My primary contact at the dermatologist office was Steve. Steve was off the day I was in the office for suture removal and the day they could not find my results. What I should have suggested was that we wait for Steve to returns the next day as he was familiar with my situation. By talking to another person (other than Steve) who was not familiar with my case, it may have set up a situation for an error to occur.
- Follow up in writing and keep a copy of all communications.
- Stay calm and try to rectify the situation the best you can.