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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Who's on films? What's on second?: An MRI Error

A member of our family--call him Javier--told me his story:

I noticed a bump on my arm, and saw a hand doctor for it, because it wasn't normal. He ordered both an X-ray and MRI. He also referred me to a specialist, who would read them for me.

I waited for the appointment. The day before, I called to confirm that the specialist had received the MRI films, and someone in the office had said Yes. The next day, I showed up for my 8:30 am appointment, and the receptionist asked me if I had the films. I said No, since I had called the day before and someone had told me the films had been received. I then waited a few hours.

I was finally taken into the room to see the doctor, and his assistant asked me if I had my films! Then two other people looked for them, and left. A supervisor then came in and asked me the same questions.

Finally the doctor came in with the film search party, and told me they did not have the films, and that he would prescribe me another MRI. He ordered another MRI, which I had about a week later. But I couldn't get an appointment with him for another two months--he was so busy!

By then, the bump was going away by itself. At the appointment, he said the MRI was OK. I was fine.

But the story wasn't over. He billed me for both sets of MRI films, and my insurance paid for both of them. Now the doctor's office is going after me to pay for the visit where nothing happened, except that the film search party spent a few hours looking for the films while I waited.

So now I have to spend time arguing about the bill! And all I got for it was two months of worrying that I had cancer, and a bump that wasn't treated--and I got to wait in his office, too--and the chance to talk, probably several times, with the doctor's office staff to straighten this out.

Read another story of misplaced diagnostic test results.

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