Steve Hutchison (foomf) wrote,
Steve Hutchison

  • Mood:

Kaiser Permanente and the declining standard of customer service

On Monday, I discovered that my wife had run out of oxycodone tabs.
These are basically a narcotic, but they're a fairly low dose, and they're supposed to be used to treat extreme pain, like that from the aftermath of surgery.
She used four of them after her hysterectomy, then left them alone for a long time, but recently her knee has been so badly arthritic that naproxen wouldn't touch the pain.

One oxycodone let her get some sleep at night. It even let her walk around relatively pain free for a short time.

Here's the gotcha. They were prescribed by her assisting oncological surgeon at St. Vincent's, which is the hospital where Kaiser out-sourced the cancer surgery.

So, I went in on Monday when I was there for my regular shot. I said, "I just discovered my wife was down to a single oxycodone tablet, which she's been using for extreme knee pain. I know this is short notice, but could you pull up the prescription for her and request a refill from her regular doctor, Dr. Kroonen, NOT from the one who prescribed it originally."

I also asked for her to have it for the next day, knowing they would have to talk to the doctor, and asked for a refill on the Insulin - and mentioned that we wanted the full amount on the prescription even though their use logs may have shown less use, because we were experimenting with the amounts.

I will touch only briefly the whole idiocy of the insulin - Penny's been using less insulin on the Atkins diet, but it's still not stabilized, and we wanted a whole month's worth, but her doctor reduced the amount based on her last visit. Pfui. We asked her not to because it hadn't stabilized, but apparently even noting it on the chart causes the pharmacy to change the amounts - they won't automatically update increased amounts though, as experience shows. Anyway, when I went in Tuesday just before class to pick up her meds, they only gave her 3 vials, and I had to go through membership services to find out why they had decided not to fill the full prescription. They initially refused to say anything about what was on her chart even though we've filed the paperwork to allow each other to see that - it's a new federal regulation, no automatic power of attorney for spouses or parents of non-dependent children.

So. They also explained that they would not fill the oxycodone because they hadn't contacted the original doctor. This was explained smugly by 'Roseann', the person who I believed to be a total new-hire idiot as I'd never seen her there before and she seemed unusually clueless, not knowing where things were, expecting my wife's card number (which is linked to mine, and she already had MY card) before she would even look for my wife's stuff.
I asked her why they did not have the instructions that were entered by the person who took the prescription refill request - to wit, not to try to go back to the originator at another hospital, but to go to her regular doctor, and to the backup if her doctor wasn't available. She couldn't answer that, and when I asked her what my wife was supposed to do, stay awake all night screaming in pain? she informed me that it takes 24 to 48 hours, and shrugged like an imbecile. (Note - to fill a new prescription takes less than four hours, tops.) I told her that wasn't good enough.
She gave me one of those dolt-stupid fake apologies. "I'm sorry you're upset."
No shit, lady. I'm yelling at you for your incompetence, of course you're sorry.
It escalated. She'd already explained to me why she couldn't deliver, and says "you should have ordered ahead."
Yes, I should have, and had I the time on Friday to call them before the end of business hours, I would have, probably. But that's hardly a useful thing to say to someone who is facing a night of being awakened by startled screams of anguish.
So Roseann starts in to tell me that I must do it in advance, as if somehow it didn't occur to her that I heard her say that already. I tell her that I have a class that I'm already late for, and did not have time to argue about it, and checking the time, I determine that it's too late, as the doctor isn't there now, to ask directly, nor would they go to the trouble of contacting the backup duty doctor, as 'it takes 48 hours' - right, I have SEEN them call a doctor to ask about a prescription he wrote, but it takes 48 hours to dial a frickin' phone?
She gave the fake apology again - irritating me even more - apologize for something you can help, or don't try to make me think you care about anything other than getting me to go away.
So she starts in again to tell me for a third time that they need 48 hours to contact the original doctor, and I tell her, "Look, you've already told me this twice. To hell with this, I'm leaving, I have had enough bullshit, and I'm out of time."

So, I call membership services on my cell on the way. They cannot help, attempt to suggest alternatives, but I'm loathe to miss class so I can drag my wife whose knees kept her from walking, to their urgency care clinic, since it would take longer to get her there than they'd be open. Besides, she's finally asleep.

They connect me back with the pharmacy, and I get a more reasonable explanation from the guy who answers. The whole problem is because they've been hit with even more requirements for 'narcotics.'

So I say, "Look. I know you heard me yelling about this. Is there any way you can make sure they check with her regular doctor instead of trying to get in touch with a provider who isn't even a Kaiser doctor? And let her know we've been using it for acute knee pain, and please have someone call me when it's ready, you have my phone number?"

The man agrees - he's someone I've dealt with before, and he's extremely competent; he reads back the phone number. OK, at least it'll only be one night.

LOTS of naproxen for Penny Tuesday night but it doesn't really help. She is awake every half hour whimpering, crying, or cursing in agony, trying to keep quiet so I will at least get to sleep.

So, after a day of visitors I call Kaiser, and am informed that they did fill the prescription first thing in the morning (but didn't call me) and that I can just come by to pick it up.

Note that nowhere in this mess does anyone say anything about the new requirement, which I am slapped with when I arrive: Once again I have Roseann in all her genius,
and she tells me I have to bring Penny's Kaiser card, and HER driver's license, to pick up this prescription, because it's a new requirement of some string of digits. Note that at no time in the previous conversation was this extra requirement mentioned.

I'm pissed. I ask why I have not been sent the required written notification of changes in Kaiser's policy, and she tells me that they did too, and then contradicts herself after I ask when they sent it, but she'll print it out if I want it.
What the hell good is THAT going to do me, one might ask. I did not, because this idiot woman has already demonstrated that she won't do anything that isn't in her procedures. "I don't have my wife's card, nor do I have her driver's license."
"Well, you have to have them to get this."
I'm no longer willing to put up with this bimbo.
"And I have to divine this new requirement from thin air?"
"Sirrr, I told you yesterday."
"No, you did not, you said nothing of the sort."
Note that since they only gave me her insulin, they did NOT give me any requirements based on the narcotic laws. She's lying to cover her ass.
"I did so, obviously you weren't listening."
"I'm not listening to any more of this bullshit, no, I'm going to talk to membership services."
Seething, I leave to discover that they have just closed, but the cashier tells me that there's an active phone to the main member services person.
I connect, and the membership services person listens to my description of what happened, tries to reach an administration person there, and I spend 15 minutes on hold waiting. Just as I'm about to hang up, she comes back on and tells me that there isn't anyone there (no kidding) and that she can connect me with a supervising pharmacist. Lovely. I tell her that it's all right, I can do that, but please record my complaint about the pharmacist assistant ... whose name I have wrong as Roxanne.

So I go back, stand in line, get the guy I talked to the day before, and he brings the supervising pharmacist... Roseann. Shit. The idiot is in charge. Shades of the curse of Dilbert.

She starts again, and I say, "Look, I don't care about excuses, and I've already filed a complaint about you. What are you going to do so my wife won't spend another sleepless night and can get the medication that allows her to walk?"

She says, "Well, you will have to sign for it, and we will waive the requirement for her card, and I'll need your driver's license."

"Fine," I say, "I have no problem with providing you MY ID, it makes a lot more sense than you requiring me to give HER ID."

"But I said I wanted your license." By this point I've decided that the faint foreign accent she exhibits means that she doesn't understand pronouns.
"No, you said you wanted my wife's license. Never mind. Just let's do what we need to so I can get her pain meds to her."

So she has the receipt that I'm supposed to have, the one that is my record for tax purposes. I tell her I have to have a receipt for tax purposes, and she nods and hands me the much-marked-up prescription release record. She has me sign it, and I sign and initial it, then I wait for her to tell me how much it will be, since that part of the record had been marked out.

"How much do I owe you?"

Blink, jump. Oh. "Five dollars."

I write the check, and then repeat, "I'll need a copy of that for taxes. It has the name of the medication on it."

She prints off an extra, and I thank her, then leave.

I sincerely hope that I won't have to deal with them again... except I will. Penny's blood pressure meds are running low.


  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

  • 1 comment