stethoscope on laptop

A friend of a friend, Christopher Ford, wrote this on Facebook. I’m posting with permission, and including some of the comments anonymously.

“So I broke down a month or so ago and got myself a primary care physician. Everyone knows all too good and well that I’ve been under the care of about half a dozen specialists this year, but I was strongly encouraged to hire a primary care physician to manage my overall healthcare. I asked one of my most trusted specialists to refer me to someone who could handle a ‘complex’ patient.

“I had NO symptoms the day I went to see said PCP. The appointment was set to establish the relationship which would include an overall checkup. While I was at it, I asked for the prescription for Chantix.

“Long story short, this bozo quackadoodle does a quick once over on me, then immediately orders FOUR vaccinations and has them administered immediately. I discovered after the fact, that one of these was actually a PEDIATRIC vaccine! He then informed me that I needed to see THREE new specialists urgently. He said I have throat cancer, ‘something’ going on in my chest, and possibly kidney disease. Now, there were no examinations or tests performed, other than a basic 5 minute visual assessment. I got my prescription for Chantix and left his office.

“This maniac proceeded to berate me with email messages about a week or two later, strongly encouraging me to make appointments with the doctors he referred me to and get the chest images done right away. It became more urgent as time went on, until he finally wrote me again to tell me that he is very concerned about the cancerous MALIGNANT lesions in my throat and I need to get treatment immediately.

“I checked my throat and had a medical colleague take a gander as well. We saw nada – zilch – nothing… I told Dr. Quackadoodle that we see no evidence of lesions, and he told me I wasn’t qualified to make that determination and I shouldn’t trust a non-clinical person to give me an opinion. I told him HE isn’t qualified to make a diagnosis to begin with. I sent him a photo of my clear uvula and throat. He had no idea that the person who looked at my throat is a medical professional, and despite the photo, said I really should have this taken care of before it advances.

“While we were debating, I pulled my medical record on the patient portal and found that he entered a list of ‘current health conditions’ – based on this list, it is a miracle I am breathing, let alone typing this. According to this freak of medicine, IN ADDITION to the current maladies I am treated for, I have everything from throat cancer, to lung nodules, kidney disease, to chronic depression, anxiety, AND drug addiction! When I told him there was no medical basis for any of these to be listed in my medical record, this buffoon told me that he would remove them when I had the te$ting and exam$ done to rule them out.

“Ohhhh we shall see about that, Dr. Dolittle. I call medical fraud. He’s holding my medical record hostage for a ransom. Get these expensive tests, see these expensive specialists who will order more expensive tests, then we’ll consider removing items from the record. Needless to say, I fired him and am making an appointment with a new doctor in a completely different medical group. Misinformation and errors on your medical record can lead to misdiagnosis, serious injury and even death. Be sure you check your medical history for accuracy at least once a year – it can save your life!”

Peer-to-peer health, or what happened next

What happened next was a great example of peer-to-peer health care, patients (and doctors) helping patients via social media. (For other examples of patients helping patients, or social media going right, look here and here and here.)

Since Christopher Ford, who posted originally, is on a group with a number of patients and medical professionals, these opinions were expressed:

Primary care doc: Not sure about fraud, but seems like incompetence. This kind of thing infuriates me in how it is a mockery of primary care, which most specialists would agree is a very difficult job. There are some who are not in it to take care of patients, but simply to enable billing. While that seems like fraud, it’s the system we’ve invented to achieve “health” in patients.

Patient advocate: Since Bandit Doc is refusing to amend dx-es, including drug abuse, in my buddy’s record, this smells like fraud to me.

Primary care doc: Okay. I am just more used to incompetence than I am fraud. Stupid is far more common than evil.

Christopher Ford: I would have given him the benefit of the doubt and perhaps excused it as incompetence had it been one entry made in error, and he quickly corrected it when brought to his attention. He literally added a list of serious disease conditions to my medical record then told me the only way to get them off of my record was for me to see three specialists AND get several tests. No way is that unintentional.

Primary care doc: Here’s what COULD have happened – somehow nurse/clerical person put in those diagnoses and PCP spent time focused on incorrect diagnoses and felt foolish for doing so. Really PCP’s don’t make extra money from ordering tests, having other diagnoses.

Christopher Ford: I actually know exactly what happened, because I was there. The doctor, himself, added the notes after my visit with him. He told me that he did. He also told me he could delete these entries. So, he adds an entry for drug abuse, then tells me that if I go to the lab and get a urinalysis done, he will delete it, even though we never even discussed drug use nor have I ever had a positive drug test. He didn’t give me any options – I couldn’t go to Walgreens and buy an over the counter test, or select a lab. The lab is down the hall from his office, in the same medical group. He added an entry for cancerous lesions, yet it is impossible to make that diagnosis based on the exam. Then he said he’d delete the entry after I see the ENT specialist, even though I can’t see any lesions, an RN can’t see any lesions, and the urgent care doctor who did a very thorough exam and culture on my throat didn’t see any lesions. AND he could produce no evidence – ie a photograph at least – that these lesions exist. The PCP is nothing more than a salesman. He refers patients to other doctors who charge for services, or tests. If those referrals are to other doctors in the same medical group, that doctor certainly does benefit from them. And I would venture to guess that even if they’re not in the same group, the doctor still benefits in some way.

Primary care doc: Yuk. That is just very, very wrong in many ways. Question is if he got specific instructions to do this kind of thing. That would be a huge thing for CMS in that it is not just an isolated instance of fraud, but a systemic fraud in the system.

Christopher Ford: TBH I would not be surprised if there exist quotas for referrals. It’s in the clinic’s best interest if its doctors are referring patients to their specialists. Facilities track every penny – every item consumed, every minute spent, etc. to maintain those plump profit margins. Family medicine doctors see 8+ patients per hour – 30 years ago they saw 3 per hour max.

Patient advocate: Mr Ford had every right to accept or refuse any advice, vaccinations, tests or other $$$$ items he wanted. none of them are without risk and all of them cost money. He can report him to Medicare/Medicaid and/or his private insurer for fraud.

Second primary care doc: (1) request that he send a copy of the entire record to one of your specialists. (2) Collect and document everything you already have. (3) File a complaint with the state licensing board.

Christopher Ford: BREAKING NEWS: The Recordnapper quackmeister who held my personal health history hostage has stood down. Apparently, he realized that he was digging his heels into quicksand when he refused correct my records, and had a change of heart today. Perhaps, the social media blitz that took place today made an impact. My status post on my FB page wasn’t the only place I posted about this experience. It was shared here with a lively discussion and even mentioned on the uber popular podcast Healthcare Is Hilarious. I also wrote reviews on multiple doctor review sites like Healthgrades, as well as Yelp, Facebook, and Google, and wrote to Dignity Health yesterday. As of right now 5:20 pm PST 7/12/18, my record’s been modified: throat cancer changed to Lesion of the Uvula, lung nodules removed, kidney disease removed, chronic depression removed, and drug abuse removed! My health record has been restored to normal 😀 He must be firm in his belief there is a lesion in my throat, but I’m ok with that for now. I will have it rechecked by the new PCP next week. Aaaaaand THIS is what democratization of healthcare is about!

Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...