I have been trying to get into the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Dept. of the teaching hospital in my city since May 1. This is the same teaching hospital where the truth about my iatrogenic injuries was buried by an ENT in 2007 and 2008.
The right side of my face has caved in since the unnecessary Caldwell-Luc performed on me in October 2007, and I have had five antibiotic-resistant infections in my sinuses and eyes. Since December 2009, I have had unbearable pain in my face and teeth. I have lost a three-tooth bridge and have had three root canals.
Around the first of May, my teeth became misaligned. An ENT called in a referral to Oral Maxillofacial. The office manager, J, told the office of the ENT that I was already scheduled for an appointment in June. I had made this appointment in April for a tooth extraction.
I called Oral and Maxillofacial to confirm that this information was correct. I said, “But I would think that I would need a referral. Are you sure that I don’t need a referral? This is a separate issue from a tooth extraction.”
“No,” J said. “You do not need a referral. You have an appointment so you are already in the department. You will be seen by an Oral Maxillofacial surgeon as well as a resident on June 15.”
Around the first of June, I called Oral Maxillofacial to confirm again that my appointment on June 15 would serve to initiate treatment for the problem with my face and teeth. The pain was worse now.
“A” answered my call. She immediately stated that my appointment of June 15 would not have anything to do with my face and teeth. “You need a referral,” she said in no uncertain terms.
“Oh, don’t tell me that, I said, panicking. I explained what I had been told. “No, absolutely not,” A said. “You will see a resident for your tooth extraction. This appointment will not get you in to see a maxillofacial surgeon. You need a referral for that.”
“Oh no,” I said. “I can’t wait for another six weeks. I can’t. I am so much pain. What do I do?”
“Go to the emergency room.” She said.
So I gathered up some records and went to the emergency room. Dr. K gave me a referral to Oral Maxillofacial. He said that the ER staff would make the appointment the following day.
The following day, “E” from the ER staff called and told me that the appointment could not be made. “I have discovered something,” E said. “You were seen by an otolaryngologist here in 2007 after your surgery. According to his notes, you were fine. Therefore, your records do not support this referral.”
That’s right. The hospital had tracked down some medical notes from 2007 that said I was fine. Therefore, my ER referral in 2010 was invalidated.
I called both the ENT and my GP and asked them to make referrals for me to Oral Maxillofacial. They did.
I appeared at Oral Maxillofacial on June 15 for the tooth extraction. I waited an hour and no one came to get me. I was in a lot of pain. Finally, I went to the window with tears rolling down my cheeks. “Please,” I begged. “Please, I need to see an Oral Maxillofacial surgeon.”
“You will see a resident,” J said.
Finally, a resident came out and got me. I begged her to help me with my pain and teeth misalignment. She sent me downstairs for an x-ray. I carried the x-ray back upstairs to her. It was just of my teeth. The resident put it up on the wall and showed me that my sinuses were falling into my teeth. “You need a special ct scan,” she said. “We can’t see enough about what is going here. I’m going to talk to my supervisor this afternoon and then I’ll call you. Meanwhile, I want you to go downstairs to Graduate Prosthodontics and make an appointment to have a bite made to hold your mouth in a better position.
“They won’t see me,” I said.
“What? Why?” she asked
“I don’t know,” I said. “They won’t tell me why.”
I was given another appointment for the tooth extraction at the end of July.
The resident never called. Several weeks later, I called and spoke to J. She told me that the resident had left the state to start her practice. “What about my referrals?” I asked.
“They’re pending,” J said.
A week later, I called again. I asked J if I had been given an appointment, yet. “You have an appointment July 27!” she chirped.
“That’s for a tooth extraction,” I said.
This same conversation was repeated each of the next two weeks.
Graduate Prosthodontics, meanwhile, kept promising that the head of the department was going to call “next week” to explain my rejection, but she never did.
July 27, I appeared for the tooth extraction. “What about my referrals?” I asked J.
“Pending,” she said.
The resident, Dr. P, said he would make an appointment for me for a consultation regarding my teeth pain and misalignment following my tooth extraction.
“I don’t think [J ] is going to let you do that,” I said.
“Sure she will,” he said.
J was missing when Dr. P escorted me to the front desk.
I hunted down the office for the clinical administrators where I was able to speak to a woman named M. M was appalled at my story. She wrote her name and phone number on a piece of paper. “I will get your chart tomorrow,” she said. “And I will give you a call and explain what is going on.”
The next day, M was unable to get my chart, and the following day, she went on a vacation.
Several days went by. Dr. V called.
I told him about trying to get in to Oral Maxillofacial since May 1. Dr. V said that he saw a referral by a Dr. P on June 6, and that I was seen on June 15. This observation was disingenuous as no one is seen in Oral Maxillofacial in less than six weeks. I told him I had made the June 15 appointment in April for a tooth extraction. Dr. V said that I was seen by Oral Maxillofacial on June 15, an x-ray was done, nothing was found, and this completed my evaluation. I disagreed saying that the resident had told me I needed a special ct scan. Dr. V said my evaluation had been completed. I realized after this conversation that Dr. V was suggesting that my treatment had been completed without me ever being seen for a follow-up or told the result of my “evaluation.”
I told him my pain was all over my face and the x-ray had been just of my teeth. He said, “I am looking right at it and I can see your eye sockets.”
I said, “That’s weird. I saw it. It was just of my teeth.”
I told Dr. V about going to the ER and being given a referral to Oral Maxillofacial by the ER doctor. I told him about “E” in the ER, refusing to honor the referral the next day, because a staff ENT had found me okay three years earlier. I repeated this story to Dr. V several times and he made no meaningful response. At one point, he said, “You talk as if there is some kind of plot…”
I repeated the story of the ER. “I’m not making this up,” I said.
“No,” he said. “I’m not saying you are.”
On July 30, I was having pain from the July 27 tooth extraction. I returned and saw the resident, Dr. P. I asked him about the x-ray in my file. I told him I had spoken to Dr. V who’d said that the x-ray showed up to my eye sockets. Dr. P said that the lower part of my eye sockets were just visible but that nothing but the teeth area was in focus. The rest was blurred out and not useful for any diagnostic purpose. I told him that my worst pain was in my cheekbones. I said, “So they could not have diagnosed that there was nothing wrong in the area of my cheekbones from this x-ray?”
He said, “No, they could not have.”
Monday, August 2, I called to ask a question about an appointment I had set up the week before for an evaluation for a crown. “Oh, I see here that we can’t see you,” the receptionist said.
“What do you mean you can’t see me?” I asked. “I have an appointment today. I made it last week.”
“Well, now, we can’t see you,” she said. “It says so right here.”
Patient blacklisting “is not always…subtle…Sometimes it is one physician blatantly telling another physician to find nothing wrong with a patient, to give no tests that could uncover injuries, and no referrals that could help the patient because anything found could indict a fellow physician.”