When Telemedicine Just Won’t Do

Two weeks ago, my daughter took a pill that was prescribed to her by a neurologist, for headaches. After taking just one pill, she began to feel sick. A half hour passed and her hands began to shake.  An hour after that, her entire body went into full-blown, violent tremors, arms and legs flailing, with stuttered speech and unable to walk.

We rushed her to the emergency room where she was immediately whisked inside, in a wheelchair that could barely contain the force of her seizing.  And then…we waited.  We sat outside in the car while our baby, in full distress, was taken into a hospital that we couldn’t enter, because of COVID-19.

And in those moments, I thought about all of the others who felt that same anguish.  The millions of people across the globe who rushed their loved one to the hospital, only to be told “We’re sorry. You can’t go with them.” And my heart wept.

My daughter was treated with various medications and later released, with lighter tremors. The emergency room doctor had never seen such a reaction to the medication she took. Since being released, she has suffered residual effects from the trauma of the drug reaction.  She has physical issues that are painful for her to endure and painful for us to watch. Tremors, stuttering, eye dysfunction and an unsteady gait, to name a few. The doctor’s office that prescribed the medication was very unsympathetic to our requests for an in-person visit, to assess her injuries.  They even recommended that she not take any more of the medicine that caused the reaction, for just one day, but start taking it again the following day, as if we would EVER let our daughter take that medicine, again. After numerous attempts to obtain a visit, they offered a telemedicine visit with a physician’s assistant (PA).

Now I know there are tons of physician’s assistants who are capable, talented individuals that I would see in a heartbeat for an issue, but when my healthy, athletic child has been debilitated as a result of a medication prescribed by your office, I WANT TO SEE A DOCTOR!  And not only that, I WANT TO SEE A DOCTOR, IN PERSON!

We attended the telemedicine call, a week later, as that was all we were offered, and were astonished at the demeanor of the PA, who behaved as though our concerns were unimportant, and ended the call by telling us to have my daughter drink more water.  (And this was a full week after the reaction, so the medicine was already out of her system). We demanded that our daughter have an in-person visit, with a physician, immediately!

Following the telemedicine call, I filed an official complaint with the hospital system about the neglect of this physician’s office. And, it’s amazing what the words “official complaint,” will do.

Suddenly, the doctor’s office was contacting us to find out what our concerns were. Instantly, the doctor was available to see my daughter, in person.  All of a sudden, the pharmacy called to ensure that they’d given my daughter the right medication!  The words, “official complaint” had caused a movement!

Not only that, but during the in-person appointment, the doctor went to get a movement disorder specialist from another clinic, to help assess my daughter.  And it ended with a diagnosis, medication and a treatment plan including cognitive, behavioral and physical therapy, all of which are so much more than drinking water.

The points of this post are three-fold. The first is, despite COVID-19, that you should demand an in-person appointment with your doctor if a telemedicine visit won’t show the depth of your injury or illness.  You deserve it, you are entitled to it and you are paying for it! And though telemedicine is the way of the future for doctor’s visits, sometimes looking at someone through a monitor, just doesn’t equal taking their temperature, pulse or listening to their heartbeat.

The second point is that, even after COVID-19, if you want to see a doctor when you visit the doctor’s office, you should request to see a doctor.  And I know that may mean a longer wait. But, if it won’t adversely affect your condition to wait, then ask for a doctor, if that’s your preference.

And lastly, to all of those who have survived the horror of dropping off your loved one at the hospital, only to wait hours for word on their condition, God bless you! I know that some are enduring this trauma for weeks at a time, and I pray for peace, comfort and healing for you and your loved ones.

2 comments

  1. Oh April! My heart goes out to you Bre, Morgan and Brandon. I can’t imagine the frustration you went through. Praying for full recovery for Bre!
    Thanks for sharing.

    Like

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