I have been blessed with a, for the most part, healthy and happy little boy. We struggled for the first year of his life with ear infections, but other than too many antibiotics and a quick surgery for placing tubes, we've had a relatively easy time with Benjamin's health. Nothing more than the seasonal colds that get passed around the elementary school crowd.
Shortly after he started at a new pre-school three years ago, his teacher pulled me aside at drop off one morning to tell me that she thought he had speech delays. She said that the other kids (and teachers) were having a hard time understanding him, and that was frustrating him to tears almost daily.
I was caught off guard, because I understood him perfectly, but after catching my breath from hearing bad news about my child, I got on the phone with the best-rated speech and hearing center in Baltimore.
Like any mother would, I immediately scheduled an assessment for the next week. When it came time for the appointment, I had an entire sheet of paper, front and back, covered with notes, thoughts, concerns and questions for our new provider. She assured me that he had relatively minor speech delays, shared which letters he was behind on, and gave me her suggestions for moving forward.
I left feeling confident, with a care plan in my hands, and attended our weekly sessions for the next 7 months. He was making massive progress, and thriving both academically (or as much so as you can in pre-k) and socially at school. We didn't miss a single appointment, and our hard work was paying off.
Then I got the bill.
Everything had been pre-approved by my insurance company, but as he progressed, the speech center billed it differently, and no longer was paying the claims because he was getting an uncovered service. Hours were spent sending documentation, resubmitting bills, and eventually, we got most of his treatment covered. It was a nightmare to get the bill down to a reasonable amount.
However, that is an entire blog post for another day. Today? I want to talk about the gaps between what we left the speech center believing, and what they documented in Benjamin's chart.
We sat down with our speech therapist, and she advised us that, since it was no longer covered by insurance, and because it was almost summer vacation, she was confident that Benjamin had made leaps and bounds with his speech, and we could do a reevaluation when he entered kindergarten three months later.
We did the reevaluation, and his new teacher didn't believe that there was any need for additional therapy. I put it out of my mind, and instead, celebrated all of his successes.
Just recently, I added CareSync Plus for everybody in my family. Despite being healthy in general, I was particularily interested in getting Benjamin's records, as we've moved a bunch, saw some specialists, had a bunch of urgent care visits, and truth be told, I have ridiculous amounts of guilt that of the ones that I have, his records live in a green folder in my desk drawer.
Yesterday, I was killing some time at my own doctor appointment, and decided to read through the speech therapy appointment notes that my CareSync Plus rep had entered into Benjamin's account. I felt a sense of satisfaction that we'd reacted so quickly to the problem, and I loved reading about the progress in his chart. Until I got to the last note.
The last note read "Benjamin has made tremendous strides in recent months and his overall speech intelligibility has improved greatly! On May 11, 2011, the Hearing and Speech Agency received a message from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield determining that Benjamin is no longer approved for speech therapy services. Although Benjamin's articulation goals have not been met, at this time, his parents have opted to terminate services."
Um. No we didn't. We sat with you and made (hard) decisions and followed through on the care plan we made together.
We would have written a check for each and every appointment that you told us we needed. We would have put him into the public school system's program before the school year started. We would have done ANYTHING to be sure that our child had every advantage possible as he went off to kindergarten in three months. We trusted YOU to help us make the right choices for our child's health and you failed us.
I think, as patients and caregivers, we vulnerably put so much trust into the people who take care of us. We don't expect you to be perfect, nobody is, but we do expect a level of transparency, and the more I dig into my family's medical history, the more angry I get at how left out I've been, and it makes no sense to me. I shouldn't be left out of my child's health. He's my child!
I've found comparable errors in my own medical chart, and the more I talk to people about this, the more I realize that most of our charts have a lot of inaccurate and/or undisclosed data that, realistically, impacts our care.
So, people. Get your records. Let CareSync get your records. Either way, get them, review them, ask questions about the things you don't understand, and make sure that you are in the know about what's going on with your family's health.
Have you uncovered errors in your chart? Share your story with us here. If you don't have your medical records, get started today with a free CareSync account.