“Make a habit of two things: to help; or at least to do no harm.” – Hippocrates
The following tale could best be categorized as the type of medical horror story that occurs when an overly ambitious and overly confident female lab technician ( possibly an alpha female) at a family oriented health facility tries to prove to a patient ( me – an alpha male) that anything is possible if you are persistent yet fail to listen to a patient’s warnings about a procedure you are about to perform on him.
N O T A L W A Y S A S I M P L E P R O C E D U R E
Due to a number of health concerns I recently booked an appointment with my family physician for a full physical checkup. It had been over a year (18 months specifically) since my last appointment and I did not hesitate to confirm a date for the exam.
I had experienced a bout of blurry vision the weekend before the second visit. No booking was necessary and service was based on a “first come first served” basis. The number of patients in the clinic was minimal and my name was called in a matter of minutes.
The doctor on duty could not detect any cause for the episode and suggested that I have a blood sugar test taken to rule out diabetes. It was an unsettling weekend but on Monday morning I went to the walk in medical facility to have the blood test taken.
The lab technician who took the blood sample at that first encounter was friendly and I told her beforehand that the best site to take blood sample was my right arm. I also told her the vein in my left arm was uncooperative . She followed my advice and successfully withdrew one vial of the blood.
Wednesday of last week I set up an appointment with my family physician for Easter Monday. The examination was a success and my weight and heart rate passed with flying colors. The doctor wanted to have a few more tests taken and asked me if that would be alright. I told him the tests were welcomed.
Tuesday morning of Easter week I arrived at the clinic by 10 a.m. and waited a few minutes before my name was clinic. The female lab tech who escorted my to the booth was under 30 years old, exuded an air of confidence, somewhat aloof and sported an expensive silver and black Movado watch on her left wrist.
She examined the veins in my right arm near the elbow and noticed that there was bruising from my previous clinic visit. She then told me to place my left arm on the table. In her opinion the veins were larger and the extraction would be a sap. No problem
I tried to convince her before hand that the vein though larger was not the best one to use for the purpose of the tests . At that point she looked at me and with a superior lit in her voice assured me she would be successful.
She put the rubber arm band on my left arm and began her search for a friendly vein. As she was digging and gouging in my elbow area I told her that from past experience the right arm was the better one to use.
After a few moments of poking and prodding she finally gave up the ghost, withdrew the needle from my vein, placed a white cotton puff on the exposed area, covered it with a band-aid and returned to the right arm.
“What did you do to that vein?” she asked me out of the blue.
I asked myself was she stumped by the situation or just plain stupid?
As she was wrapping the blue rubber band around my right upper arm area she apologized to me . “I am sorry I did not believe you” she said.
At the time I was grateful that she decided to seek the samples elsewhere. She found another vein on my inner right elbow area and successfully extracted the three vials of blood.
Her interaction with me was cold and she did not say a word but walked away to tend to another patient.
A few days later I noticed my left upper arm and elbow area was tingling and at times numb. Both elbows had bruise marks on them. I accepted the slight bruising as part of the procedure but the swollen left elbow was to say the least uncalled for.
I felt nauseous and out of sorts for the rest of the week. This is actually my first day of clear thinking.
Friday of this week I returned to the clinic to lodge a complaint against this lab tech and her haughty and insolent attitude towards me her patient. I wanted to confront not only her by the site’s office manager.
They were not in that day. The nurse at the reception desk was sympathetic to my condition and gave me a sheet of paper with the company’s website address.
I wrote a lengthy letter of complaint to the customer/human relations department of the company. I am currently waiting a reply.
Patients know what does and does not work for them. I knew from past experiences that the left vein was the tougher one to use.
In my letter I described the way I was treated and assured them that if my condition worsened and I needed further medical treatment I would present them with an appropriate law suit.
In part 2 I will write about the company’s reply to my email and what steps the sites management team will take to rectify this unacceptable situation.