Medical system FAIL

This happened yesterday. The only info you need to make sense of it are a) I was in the hospital for a few days about two weeks ago due to high fevers following an endoscopy (a look down the throat), and b) when they were looking, the docs saw something that concerned them,  declaring it Must Be Removed. I agreed. Now if only I could get it done…

Rather than polish it up and risk losing the, er, spontaneity, here’s the eMail I wrote to my friends.

Went to ENT (Ear/Nose/Throat) clinic today to get the thingy in my throat removed. The following happened:

1. Doc saw me, said situation is exactly what the docs in the hospital had said two weeks ago: growth on pharynx, probably papilloma, needs to come out. Said he’ll do an excisional (right word?) biopsy removing the whole thing (unless it extends into my brain or some other inconvenient spot). I said hooray for that!

2. Doc then repeated exam done in hospital, sticking crazy snake-camera down nostril into throat. Confirmed alien sighting and repeated all he said in #1.

3. Doc then read me my “rights” i.e., told me the risks of removal: broken teeth, breathing cessation, gagging, sore throat.. all the little things that can go wrong.

4. I said “Fine! Lets get this done!” (After you’ve had a transplant little stuff holds no terror).

5. Doc, shocked at my assumption, said: “Oh, no! We don’t do that kind of thing here!” (“Here” being the “UCSF Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery” clinic. You think?) “You have to go to Parnassus (different campus, one with hospital) for that.”

6. Me: “You mean… Moffitt?”

7. Him: “Yes. It’s a hospital procedure. Surgery, actually. You’ll need anesthesia, a room, a…” he keeps speaking but…

8. …My mind stopped processing. When it recovered…

9. Me: “You mean, in Moffitt Hospital, with an IV hookup like I had two weeks ago when I was in there… and when a whole team from your department first found this thing and shared lots of looks of it through your nose camera… the same hospital where my attending doc wanted your department to take care of it right then before I went home… and where I was quite willing to stay an extra day in order to get it done… where…”

10. Doc, with slightly apologetic / mostly I’m-in-control-here look on his face: “Yes! We’ll call to schedule sometime in the next two weeks.”

11. Me: another mental blackout.

No, I did not take him out. Nor did I make a (huge) fuss. My rep at UCSF Medical Center is no worse (or better) than it was before I got there. But JEEZ LOUISE!

I also had my blood drawn at the lab, regularly scheduled. The Neanderthal in residence  gave me a hematoma (blood blister) the size of a grape.

All in all a great afternoon.

To belabor the obvious: besides being very inconvenient (and uncomfortable: the growth is irritating), think of the money wasted: another day, maybe another night in the hospital. A totally unnecessary visit to the ENT clinic to confirm what they already confirmed. Billing for same. Hospital resources wasted. My time wasted. Docs time wasted.

Usually these stories point the wagging finger of shame and blame at the insurance company/HMO. Not this time.

UCSF Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery Department, come on down! This is your FAIL!

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No Responses to “Medical system FAIL”

  1. Lisa Paul Says:


    I step away from your blog for a few weeks and all Hell breaks loose. Sending you all best wishes.

    And please forward your email on to those Republicans and “Tea Baggers” who are saying the Health System isn’t broken and that there are no wasteful practices that need to be addressed.

  2. Mike Ward Says:

    So sorry to hear of this maddening journey they’ve put you through.

    I am SO over UCSF. Getting anyone to take responsibility or action requires an act of God amongst agnostics. They parse your body out piece-by-piece, but never seem to take the action to put or keep the pieces together.

    Right now I don’t know what to think any more. They have some of the best doctors in the world. But they really don’t have their proverbial shit together.


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