Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My Near Biopsy Experience

The world of Spend Management (or at least Supply chain Management) and my health collided yesterday at Allegheny General Hospital.

Those of you that know me personally know that for the past 18 months I have had abnormally high results from liver function tests. Otherwise asymptomatic, we have not been able to figure out what is causing these high levels. With some diabetes in the family it is better to figure out what is happening than not. The last avenue we have to do this was a liver biopsy.

So I block my calendar, GSully lines up some great care for the kids, and we show up at AGH at the appointed time. We check in, I get my "red light district length" hospital gown on and wait. The scheduled time of 11:15 comes and goes. Fifteen minutes my Doctor comes in.

"I am embarrased to say that the needle necessary for your biopsy is on backorder, so I can not perform the biopsy today."

GSully thought he was joking. I was just to shocked to even be mad at this my first personal encounter with our "3rd world" healthcare system.

It turns our that there are 3 types of liver biopsy needles: suction, cutting an spring loaded. Just as a jet pilot is certified to fly a CRJ, a 737 or a 747, but not all three, if you use one type of needle, you are not able to use the other 2 types. (I don't know what type of needle my doctor uses.)

Turns out it was not the Doctor's fault, or the nurse's fault, or operations fault -- it was of course the suppliers fault. The supplier had switched manufacturers and was now having trouble meeting their production schedule. They knew on Friday that they didn't have it. They thought they would get it on Monday. They were not due to receive it until after I was due to check it. Blah Blah Blah...whatever.

For my 3 hours of time, I did receive 2 free lunches in the AGH cafeteria, 2 free cups of coffee from the cart in the main lobby, free parking, some graham crackers and a few apologies. A "You've got to be kidding me" story for the blog, and some free time on one of the 5 best weather days Pittsburgh will have all year. And I get to go back and try to do it all again soon.

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