Monday, March 23, 2009

Urgent Care is Trying to Kill Me

So Claire's sick, and was really sick all day yesterday. She got a cold in late February, and it turned into an ear infection. She did a course of amoxicillin and still had an ear infection, so the doctor (who messes with my head) put her on Omnicef and said, ominously, "If this doesn't work, we're going to have to refer you to an ENT and talk about tubes."

I freaked out when my dog had to be anesthetized for her leg surgery. I'm taking donations of Valium, if anyone has a spare or two for me, just in case Claire needs tubes.

Anyway, yesterday (Sunday, of course - no kid of mine will get sick on a weekday when it's convenient), Claire woke up vomiting and spent most of the day vomiting, having diarrhea, and having the worst diaper rash I have ever seen.

But I didn't take her to urgent care*.

Because they are trying to kill me.

I blogged before about how they gave me a medicine incompatible with breastfeeding when I was breastfeeding, and how I wrote a strongly worded letter about it to the HMO. Well. When I hurt my back a couple weeks ago, and went to the chrio in the morning, but by 4 pm I realized that I wasn't going to make it without some serious Western medicine. I went to the local urgent care.

"Who's the doc today?" I asked the receptionist.

"Dr. MF," she said (I swear, those are his initials, appropriate, no?)

"Ok, bye!" I said, as I ran out the door. I drove myself over to the other side of town's urgent care.

Ah, the false sense of security I felt as I limped to the exam room. Surely Dr. MF is an anomaly. Surely THIS doctor can't also be incompetent.

The nurse and doctor were very nice, and very fast. They prescribed Ultracet and some kind of muscle relaxer. I took them, was fine, and was back to normal in a couple days.

Then I stopped at the pharmacy Saturday to refill my Zoloft prescription. The Zoloft I've been on, with brief exceptions, since May of 2006...

"Are you still on Ultracet?" the pharmacist asked.

"Well, I still have it. It was for a back injury a few days ago, but I'm fine now."

"Don't take it with this, ok?" she said, handing me the Zoloft.

"Um.... What if I already did?"

Apparently Ultracet + Zoloft can = something called seratonin syndrome. And apparently it's bad. As in, potentially life-threatening bad.


The pharmacist said, and I quote, "Well, you're not dead, so don't worry about it."

Cue head explosion.

I guess Walgreen's tried to call my regular doctor (who was out with a sick kid of his own) and the prescribing doctor (whose shift was over) before filling the prescription. But no one said anything to me when I picked it up, nor did they try to call me at home (I know they have my number - it's printed right on my medicine bottles!!!). And I know the Urgent Care doctor knew I was on Zoloft, because it was right there on my chart.

I had a first cousin who died of a drug interaction when he was 24 years old. I normally take such things very seriously and read all the product information and so on when I get a new medication... But I thought I was safe. I went to a doctor who had access* to my full medical records. I went to the pharmacy that I've used for years. I was in pain. I didn't take the time to read the product literature.

I'm really, really lucky.

So, as you can probably understand, I was unwilling to subject my baby to urgent "care" yesterday when she was sick. After 12 hours of vomiting, I called the on-call doctor. (It took two calls and over 90 minutes for him to call me back!) I wasn't, and am still not sure if she is experiencing side effects due to the Omnicef and the ear infection, or if she picked up a virus. He suggested that we take Claire to the ER (he pretty much has to say that, or be liable for the consequences), but instead I had Bumpa come over to take a look at her. He said that he thought she was ok, for now, but to take her in if she threw up again before midnight. She did, actually, but it was just a little, and she fell asleep right after, and I didn't have the heart to pack her in the car and drive her 25 minutes to the hospital for an inevitable IV that would've been traumatic for both of us. By the time Bumpa could've gotten here to stay with MG, Claire was fast asleep. (Yes, BJ was home and could've stayed with MG while I took Claire, but there was NO WAY I was going alone if I didn't have to).

She's keeping a little food and juice down this morning, and is currently sleeping. We have an appointment with a real doctor (not Dr. MWMH, he's on Spring Break, but his partner who I've seen before and who is competent) at 10:45.

I guess the lesson to take away from this is to ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS read the product information, no matter what, and if something new is prescribed to you, ALWAYS ask if it will interact with any medication you're currently taking. And Google it when you get home, just to be safe. You really must be your own advocate (and your family's advocate).

I once took BJ's grandmother to the ER for shortness of breath and being altered, only to be told, "She's 86, what do you expect?" Well, I followed that doctor out of the curtain and said, "Look, I understand that you're looking at a chart and seeing '86' and assuming that this is normal, but I assure you it's not. This woman made a five course dinner for 6 people two weeks ago, and this morning she couldn't manage toast and coffee. Something is WRONG, and we're not leaving until you call her regular doctor and ask her what she wants you to do!" (BOO-YA!) Turned out, Grandmother needed a pacemaker. She had it installed a couple days later, and is still kicking at 96 years old.

Anyway, be your own advocate. NEVER take anything unless you've checked it out for yourself.

And stay the hell away from Urgent "Care."

I'm going to write a letter to the Urgent Care folks and Walgreen's, and I'm going to cc my doctor's office, the management of the group, and the Deparment of Health. I love writing strongly worded letters. It's a shame that I have to do it so often.

* Our doctor is part of the A. Clinic, which employs a ton of doctors at various clinics throughout the area, has a brand new hospital that's way too far away from our house, and also runs several Urgent Care clinics in the area. The Urgent Care doctor had access to my full computerized chart, because he's an employee of the exact same clinic that manages my doctor's office.


Anonymous said...

Things like this just about make me ashamed to be part of the medical community. But yeah, I've had so many experiences like this that it's just plain creepy. You are right, you HAVE to be your own advocate. You're very smart. :)

karen said...

you go girl. sharpen that poison pen and write away