“it’s required of all new patients”

ha!  no this post is not about scrapbooking… that will be later today  😉

So here is a little glimpse into part of what I think is wrong with our healthcare system…Not the ONLY thing mind you but a “case in point” as it were.

I had an appointment the other day with the Spine Clinic / Pain Management department at my doctor’s group…now the doctors we go to (harvard vanguard) are part of  huge huge doctors group which is affiliated with the best teaching hospitals in Boston  (so read…in the world)  We have been very happy and extremely well served with this group


I check in and as the nurse/tech is bringing me back for vitals tells me I have to pee in a cup (what?).

Me:  Just went, sorry.  (cue apologetic grin)

Them:  Well you have to, it’s required of all new patients (huh?!)

Me:  Well, I don’t have to go, sorry, should have said something when I booked the appointment.

Them:  Well, here have some water, you can try again later, we have to have it.   (Why do i suddenly feel like i’m 3 years old?)


Have a great consultation about my back pain with a lovely doctor, I’m feeling good about things and as I walk out the door, I’m presented with…the cup


Me:  I’m sorry, I still don’t have to go (another apologetic grin)   (this skill comes in handy on long car drives and hikes)

Them:  Well you have to give a sample before you can go, there’s the bathroom.


When I ask why, I’m stonewalled with “it’s required of all new patients”  Now I’ve been an hvma patient since 1996, not exactly new, and I’m starting to feel harassed.


She must be out there with a stopwatch because she KNOCKS ON THE DOOR to see if I’m OK?  Seriously?!

Me:  I’m really sorry, (why am I apologizing for crying out loud)

Them:  Well, here’s some more water, go sit in the waiting room, you have to give us a sample before you can leave.

At this point, I’m imagining huge guards are going to come out if I leave.  And why don’t I just leave you ask?    Because I’m generally a “good girl” and do as I’m asked by people in authority or employers.  At this point, I’m in the waiting room and getting mad, texting Charlie, stewing etc…

The nurse comes out to check on me and I start to (politely) give her a hard time about this because I have things to do and I”m tired of being nice about this situation, and she’s stonewalling me.

Then it dawns on me…

…They have not given me any real reason why they need a sample other than “it’s required of all new patients”

…This test is going to take lab time and resources away from really sick people.

…I will have to PAY FOR THIS test !!!

…I don’t recall giving permission for them to administer this test.

…The real reason they are doing this is probably to do a tox screen to see if I’m a junkie looking for a fix (it is the pain clinic after all)  but, they could look at all past tests from 1996 onward and see all of the results, and unless chocolate is a controlled substance, I am not a junkie  (just wanted to clear that up)

I’m forming up my argument when she comes back and smilingly says…”I talked to the doctor, you don’t have to…have a nice day”

So my friends, this is what I think is part of what’s wrong and why healthcare is so expensive…

-Tests that are done because that’s just what they do, not because they are necessary

-Patients who won’t challenge the medical professionals as to why tests and procedures are needed (and, I may point out, you can do this politely without getting nasty about it)

-The un-necessary one take time and resources away from people who really need it.

-Patients who don’t realize you can JUST SAY NO

-Patients who don’t realize that even though they have health insurance, they are still paying for this test with their deductibles and because the insurance company is paying for un-necessary tests they end up passing all those fees onto us in the form of higher premiums  (you don’t want to know how much it costs us to self-insure)


OK  I feel better now…next time I’ll tell you about Lily’s $465 splinter removal.

3 thoughts on ““it’s required of all new patients”

  1. The only thing any “patient” needs to know is this: they are the customer. They can yes, no, blow it out your ear, whateva…they have choices. We’ve been socialized to act like sheep around somebody with a “Dr.” in front of their name. Make nice with nurses and receptionists; they are realists and will assist you more than you’ll ever realize…and pharmacists know more about meds than any doctor. Be an advocate for yourself and anyone you care about. Take a notebook and pen with you to all appointments. Read up on your subject; knowledge is power. Ask questions: seriously…there are no stupid questions. I could go on & on…I’ve worked with a variety of health care providers for over 20 years and I’ve got personal experience working with “the cancer industry”…but I’ll end with this: I’ll listen to your splinter removal story if I can tell you about my sons’s $10,000 tubes (wth?!?).


    • Amen sistah! That (i guess) was one of the points I was trying to make. I am usually well prepared for appointments but the peeinthecup thing i thought just screamed for a little essay treatment!

      $10k for tubes?!! It’s so ridiculous. We never saw a bill for the delivery and hospital stay when I had the girls but I can’t imagine what the bill was for 6 days for me with a c-section and 8 days for lily in the nicu.


  2. Whoa! I think I would have walked out just to see if they would follow me and hold me down, insisting on a just a little wee from me please. If you are a new patient, one would assume that you will be returning. Is it impossible for them to think of a different solution for this dilemma and maybe make a notation in your records to ask you for a sample on your next visit? Oy vey!


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