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A Lesson In Not Doing Your Homework

Saturday, November 10, 2018

As many of your know I have been getting my yearly tests and appointments done for Medicare. I mentioned to my sparkfriends that I had come to a snag with my eye appointment and some of you wanted to know what was going on. I didn't want to be vague but I had no choice at the time as I needed more information before I responded.

Less than 2 years ago, before I was on Medicare or had insurance, I had an complete eye exam. The result was that I had no signs of cataracts, no signs of glaucoma, and my visual acuity had actually improved. I bought new glasses.

This year I decided to go to a local eye center that offered more services and had a really good reputation in the past. I had my eye appointment there on October 24th. A few years ago I went there to get some info for a friend and the place was packed with patients. When I went on October 24th it was almost empty, except for 9 employees and a few elderly patients with eye patches. I was having no eye symptoms at all and was feeling well when I went.

Typically when I have gone to a new doctor/facility the receptionist has a lot of forms for me to fill out regarding medical history etc. but the receptionist just had me sign a form stating I would pay if Medicare didn't. I had told them when I made the appointment that it was for glaucoma screening for Medicare so I reiterated that to the receptionist the day of the appointment and she looked at me oddly. I wondered why. She was one of 3 people I saw when I was there and the "friendliest". None of them introduced themselves or told me their names. That is atypical in my area. A warning sign.

I was taken by the second employee (nurse? technician? hairstylist? ) to the first room where the equipment looked like an old dental chair that came over on the Mayflower. I was taken aback but they didn't use this eye monstrosity anyway. I've have had tons of glaucoma tests before but they weren't like this exam. They advertise on their sign that they have local doctors but my primary physician is 2 buildings down from their office and this woman said she didn't know who he is. So more alarms went off again. The exam was mostly like an old eye test for glasses - look at charts, read lines, cover one eye, cover the other eye, etc. She asked me a few questions about certain medical problems but was chiefly on her computer clicking away - writing a book about something. I mostly sat there quietly waiting for her to ask me more pertinent medical questions but she got done computer clicking and told me to go wait again in the anteroom.

I was called by a different woman to another room and told to sit in a chair. I don't think this woman ever looked directly at me unless I was in the machine so I mostly know what her hair and profile look like. I did inform her that I chiefly wanted to use my Medicare and supplemental policy, if possible, as I am not on social security yet and my husband is working to pay a significant amount of money so that I can finally have access to health care. She seemed irritated. I did ask a couple of questions about preventative measures and, I determined in the brief time we were together, that she didn't appreciate questions. She asked me questions, though, and then berated my answers. She didn't know I was a nurse and I didn't tell her. I felt I had info she should know so I risked her ire to tell her that my grandma was blind from retinitis pigmentosa and glaucoma. She should have been asking me these questions but she seemed uninterested. She still doesn't know I have a heart arrhythmia. The gist of her exam findings were - my eye sight is 20/30 in one eye, 20/40 in the other - new glasses time, according to her, and she expected me to leave with a new pair. This is not standard medical practice and I knew it. I explained to her that my glasses were over a year old but cost almost $500 and I have had no problems seeing at all. She inform me that she was recommending that I not be allowed to drive at night any more and unless I agreed to new glasses she would soon not allow me to drive during the day either - essentially she was threatening me. I haven't driven at night for years actually. She told me that I definitely have cataracts and my eye pressure was 25 in each eye and I needed more tests to confirm if I have glaucoma. She stated that I was going to have to "come to terms that my eyesight was worth 34 cents a day". I'm not sure what she was referring to. She said that I could also make up my mind that I was going to have frequent appointments and frequent glasses changes. I thought I should probably tell her that I had recently been taking Claritin every day for allergies if my ocular pressure really was 25 but decided to stay quiet. She stated she wanted more tests done as soon as possible and sent me on my way.

I asked the receptionist when I was leaving if one of the women I saw was a doctor and she said,"Yes, a lady doctor." No name still. The receptionist said the doctor wanted me scheduled for 4 other tests within the next month. She asked me if I wanted to come back to this facility or another of their facilities. The receptionist didn't know how to schedule these tests and had to ask another employee at a desk (medical office manager? head witch doctor?) and this woman told her all the tests had to be done on different days. I assume so that Medicare will pay for them.

When I got home I started looking this place up on the internet and found that they had been reported to the Better Business Bureau 4 times. They were not rated by them. I read other complaints online about overcharging, cheap glasses, unprofessionalism, expensive unnecessary CAT Scans and MRIs, etc.

I talked to my husband when I got home and he was livid. He didn't want me to go back there at all. He talked to other people and found some who had gone to this place once, had a bad experience, and never went back. Hubby insisted that I go to a "real" doctor even if I he has to pay for it out of pocket. I didn't want to waste money or pass judgement unfairly as I was eager to know if I really have glaucoma and cataracts but I agreed that I needed to go back to my primary doctor.

Unfortunately within a few hours after the test I started having eye symptoms - eye dryness, itching, drainage, blurred vision, which later progressed to other symptoms - a runny nose, ear congestion, sinus congestion, sore throat, facial pain, vertigo, swollen lymph nodes. I felt sick.

I went to my doctor on Friday and related what happened. He said that this place used to be good and he used to go there himself and send his patients there but it had gone down the tubes. The feds have 4 indictments against this place on insurance fraud and for doing unnecessary surgery. Some of my doctor's patients ended up with permanent eye damage. My doctor cancelled the 4 appointments, found me a new eye doctor, and I had to be put on antihistamines, intramuscular/oral/nasal steroids twice day as my head is "a total mess" according to him. I may have to be on the latter for 3 months. I have an eye infection, sinus infection, upper respiratory infection, and the worst was my bulging ear drums with inner ears full of fluid. He said that most likely none of the info they gave me was true and he was shocked that they were still pulling this crap when they are in the cross hairs of the feds. We can't rule out that they gave me an eye infection, accidentally or on purpose, so that they could press me into accepting that I need whatever treatment they recommend. He said that everyone who goes there is told they have cataracts and needs eye surgery.

I'm a nurse so I should have known better and should have gotten a referral from my doctor to begin with and checked them out before hand. So I don't really know if I have cataracts or glaucoma as this point at this place can't be trusted.

This is why I have not been feeling well but I am under treatment now. I know some of my friends have been very worried and knew something is up. I have a good doctor who will get me in any time I call if I don't start improving and I already feel so much better than I have the past week.
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