A rant that’s too long for Twitter

Younger Brother’s next post-op follow-up appointment is next week.  Plastic surgeon, Tuesday, 11:30 a.m.  He’s doing extremely well as far as I can tell, but the doctor will be able to make sure that his skull is healing and growing correctly.

I got the usual automated reminder call late in the afternoon yesterday.  I checked the robotic voice against my planner and the confirmation letter we’d received in the mail.  Appointment—got it, Tuesday—got it, 10 a.m. and 11:30—wait, what?  TWO appointments?  The plastic surgeon has his own private practice, but he sees infant patients at a kids’ clinic near the hospital.  This clinic has already proven itself to be a disaster when it comes to scheduling and communication; it took two weeks and five phone calls for them to send our original referral to the neurosurgeon, apparently because they’d lost their own electronic referral.

I called the clinic this morning.  “The reminder call said my son had two appointments scheduled for the same day?”  Turns out it wasn’t a basic clerical error: they had scheduled Younger Brother for a meeting with a dietitian.  What the heck?!

Two calls and a voicemail later, I got the nurse on the line who explained: YB’s BMI was in the fifth percentile, she said, and they watch for low weight gain in patients after surgery.  Hence the dietitian.

Dear readers, YB is eight months old.  At his initial post-op checkup, his weight was in the 60th percentile, roughly what it has been at for his entire life.  If his BMI seems low, it is because he is in the 90+th percentile for length.  He is not the chubbiest baby you have ever seen, but he is a big boy and very solid.  I appreciate the general concept of what they were trying to do here, but the most minimal of basic sanity checks would tell you that a baby holding strong at the 60th weight percentile is absolutely fine.

Not to mention—what on earth did they think a dietitian was going to do for an eight-month-old baby?!?  He gets most of his calories from breast milk.  He has a lunch and dinner of oatmeal and/or baby-food purées, as much as he’ll eat.  He hasn’t figured out finger foods yet.  What were they going to do, recommend more yogurt and avocados?

And on top of all that, when were they going to tell me about this appointment?!???  You can’t just schedule my baby for extra things and leave it up to the auto-reminder to inform me.

I have cancelled the dietitian appointment, and I will be raising some questions about this system when we see the plastic surgeon.

P.S.  After my initial WTF?!! reaction calmed down a bit, I did some Googling and discovered that BMIs are only supposed to be used for children above the age of two anyway.  Not infants.

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5 thoughts on “A rant that’s too long for Twitter

  1. The downfall of automation that is not properly done — I’m sure there’s some computer check that calculates BMI, and they likely overlooked programming in a check for the age of the patient. I feel your frustration at a job not done properly, and I think this is a big consequence of not having human eyes check over things. Of course, humans miss things too, but still . . .

    Hope YB is healing up well and that he’s recovered nicely from surgery.

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    • The weird part is that everybody on the phone sort of doubled down on it—the main-line scheduler said it was doctor’s orders and I’d have to speak to the nurse; the nurse said oh yes, his BMI was below the 5th percentile etc. etc. I had to be really insistent about cancelling the dietitian appointment, even after pointing out that he’s a baby.

      (My frustration factor is definitely being multiplied here by the way the appointment sprang up with no notice, on top of how frustrating this place has been in the past.)

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  2. Pingback: The brief conclusion to my previous post | crazy mama, PhD

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