A patient has been trying to obtain copies of certain tests that were done at another hospital. I didn't see the results in the paperwork that she came in with. (I find that I establish a better rapport with patients by telling them about the results of their tests and giving them copies if they want. It makes them less suspicious.) I contacted medical records and they claimed they don't have anything that I don't have, which I doubt, but so be it. I should be grateful that they even answered the phone. I had the patient sign a release and faxed it to the other hospital. Numerous phone calls, faxes, and weeks later- still no results.
The patient provided me some insight into her situation. She said that she can't send a written request to the hospital after she is discharged because she is homeless and the hospital requires a permanent address to mail the copies. She can't physically show up at the hospital because she is labeled as a "psych patient" and she will be locked up, even if she is behaving normally and denies complaints. She said she has gone to every hospital in the area when she was in need of medical attention and now has nowhere left to go if she gets sick or injured because every hospital has her branded. Regardless of her physical complaint, once the hospital finds out that she has an inpatient psych history, she is surrounded by staff and forced into the psych holding area and is detained until she is sent to the psych floor, where she is locked in anywhere from a few months to a few years.
"You don't understand!" she exclaimed. I had not understood, but now I have a better understanding of this predicament that any person faces with a history of psychiatric care. I hope you have a better understanding now, too.
I mentioned this to a social worker. She had a similar story. She said she was working at a hospital and called in to do an intake assessment on a frequent flyer on the psych floor. He had presented himself to the emergency room and the report was that he was "evasive" with "slurred speech." Upon seeing the social worker, the patient started crying and showed her his bulging face- he had a massive tooth infection and waited before seeking treatment, fearful of being locked up on the psych ward, still in pain- which is exactly the situation he was in.