Lesson of the week: Never assume that people doing a job have been educated or trained for the position they hold. This is a particularly frightening proposition in medicine.
The hospital registration lady asked me to review the admission paperwork for accuracy. Most everything was in order. I updated one piece of personal information. Then I saw the diagnosis: Pure Hyperglycemeredemia.
I was stumped. I readily admit my scope as a physical therapist is limited. However, I've had enough education and seen enough as a practitioner that I usually recognize medical words, even if I can't remember exactly what they mean. I figured "hyperglycem-" should have something to do with high blood sugar, which I've never come close to having.
So, I told the registration lady I thought my diagnosis might be incorrect. She shrugged it off, making no attempt to inquire about or correct it. When I got to the prep area, I asked the nurse.
She laughed and said, "I was going to show that one to the other nurses. I've never seen it before. I'm pretty sure it isn't even a word. The people who input this don't have any medical training. Sometimes they get carried away. We see some crazy things, but I haven't seen anything quite that creative. Don't worry; I can change your diagnosis to something appropriate for the procedure."
Medical establishments won't hire people with advanced medical degrees to input admission data, but they should require a minimal level of competence and integrity of employees who handle medical information. Since that obviously isn't the case, here are my personal takeaways:
1. When I receive information about a client -- information that was documented by someone other than the client -- I won't assume it's correct.
2. I won't be annoyed when professionals ask me the same questions their colleagues have already asked. In the past, this act has felt like an inconsiderate waste of my time. Now I'll appreciate this measure of accountability.
Don't assume others have been conscientious in their preparation of your information. Current news is replete with warnings to be careful with personal information from a security perspective. Be as vigilant about reviewing your medical information.