Paperless Woes

Has your doctor gone paperless?

You know, no actual paper lab order form that tells you exactly what tests will be performed. The paper that clues you in as to whether you should not eat beforehand so your results won’t be skewed. Or lets you know to drink a lot before getting there so you can deliver that urine sample. Last time I had to go back to the lab the next day; I was, ahem, not prepared to deliver.

I’ve gotten used to him not having to plop down a thick, heavy paper chart on the desk in front of me. Instead he reviews my notes and history on a sleek new laptop. I just hope that it’s backed up somewhere. The Cloud? Carbonite? A master hard drive? I really don’t care who finds out about my medical history. I care more that it not get lost into the ether.

In a way, this blog helps me keep track of where I am on the RA continuum. It’s a record, granted a digital record. But after this last visit, I decided I am going to do something more; I’m going to keep a written log: Star Date, blah, blah, blah . . .

And I am going to do one more thing, be more proactive with my plan of care.  I started to on this last visit. When the check-out clerk tried to do the “this is your appointment card and this number on it is your lab order” routine. I said, no, I need the actual order form. I don’t like this computer code number thingy and neither does the lab. So I got my piece of paper.

But (big but), I didn’t insist on at least verifying with him what, if anything, he was going to order for me at the pharmacy with his one click of a button. I understood he was and I waited for the text from the pharmacy telling me it was ready. Nada, zilch.

I called them this morning; they’d received no clicks in my direction. I called the office. They verified my old prescriptions. But, but, but, I said. There was to be something else. For my bursitis of the foot. After he made me jump a foot off the exam table by pressing into the most painful area of my heel, I understood he was going to order a prescription-strength anti-inflammatory. True I couldn’t think straight or hear right after that, but I swear he said he would.

Well he did mean to and they are now, and I once again await the pharmacy text. I appreciate the digital era I live in, but I’m a writer. I have a love affair with paper. It’s hard to let go.


4 thoughts on “Paperless Woes

  1. J.G. Chayko

    Paperless is the way to go these days. I work part-time for Rheumatology, and we are on an electronic medical system, however, we still print out labs, x-rays and prescriptions for the patient so instructions are not floating in the air somewhere…and hopefully, your doctor or secretary is able to explain to you what needs to happen. There are pros and cons to this system. Most patients don’t like the change. Our system is constantly backed up so nothing will get lost in the ether – but I agree, it’s a great idea to keep track of your own health records if you can. Hopefully things will go smoother with your next visits.

    1. Irma

      Intellectually, I know it’s a better system. To go digital. When I was working at the bedside years ago, we went to computer charting. No more paper, it was great, but it was a closed system, contained within the hospital. We still gave out hard copy prescriptions and discharge instructions. I knew this day was coming and its not a bad thing as long as there is effective communication. They are newly converted and I guess still working out the kinks. But his care is exceptional and I suppose that’s what matters!

  2. Wren

    I understand your frustration, Irma. My .VA rheumatologist (and all of the other docs at the VA Med. Center) uses EMS, too. There have been a couple of times when prescriptions didn’t quite make it from his computer to the pharmacy, but for the most part, it all works well enough. My primary care doc usually tells me what kind of lab test she wants (whether to drink lots of water before the appt. so as to be prepared 😉 ) but she also hands me a form with instructions. Keeping your own log, and taking notes during the appt. makes sense, given our “paperless” world.

    1. Irma Post author

      I can’t tell you how annoying that was, to have to go back to the lab the next day, but the worst thing was that the lab had three patients with the same lab order code. That made me see double. And, they didn’t like the system at all. Easier to make errors. So, if I have a choice, I will take the form. I suppose they could email the lab order to the lab and cc me. That would work and still fit into the paperless scheme of things. But, I guess we must find a way to go with the flow, no pun intended!


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