Sunday, July 17, 2011

Falsifying records and hiding x-rays in the Kaiser Permanente Urology Department?

See two more pages related to this report HERE.

UPDATE OCT. 15, 2011
Kaiser publishes newsletter contradicting repeated statements that x-rays were saved only on thermal paper.

Click HERE (and then go to bottom of new page) to see US News and World Report statistics comparing urology departments in San Diego hospitals.

What's going on in the Kaiser Permanente Urology Department?
by Maura Larkins

I have discovered some things that may help explain why Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center has worse than expected survival rates for urology patients.

I visited Dr. K in May. (I won't give his name here, largely because I feel that the real problem is Kaiser itself. I'd like to think that Dr. K might have developed different habits, attitudes and practices at a better institution.

In February 2011, I had developed a painful problem with urination. It was not an infection, but my urine was extremely cloudy. I began using Bactine to help with the pain. Dr. K said he'd never seen urine as cloudy as mine. He later asked me, "What is Bactine?" Obviously, he had no idea what was going on, but that didn't stop him from making an instant diagnosis: the cloudiness was caused by the Bactine! He either assumed that Bactine has white stuff in it rather than being clear, or he opined that the Bactine had caused the original problem for which the Bactine was used (he couldn't have come up with more perfect circular reasoning if he had tried.) Or maybe he was thinking both things.

A urethrocystogram (VUCG), a test in which dye is injected into the
bladder, and x-rays are taken, was ordered by Dr. K on May 26. The
procedure was done on June 15. (These two dates will become
important later on in this story.)

After the test, I saw the final two images of my bladder and urethra
on the two computer monitors in the x-ray room. The technician
told me the images would be available to any Kaiser doctor. (These
facts will also become important later on.)

But Dr. K had made clear to me that he was only giving me the VUCG to
prove to me that there was nothing wrong with me. He made no
appointment to discuss the results with me. I was to be given the results by
the nurse. But I wanted to see the x-rays, so I ordered a CD of the results.
That's when things started to get very interesting.

The Records lady who said on June 30 that she'd send me the CD called
me back on July 1. She said that the results of my VUCG had not
been digitized! She said that only a few images had been saved on
thermal paper, but that she'd be happy to send me Xerox copies of the
images. I received five images a few days later. None of them included my
urethra. Luckily, as it turned out, she also included a printed report titled
"Outpatient Diagnositc Imaging." That report was the key to exposing Dr. K's bizarre antics.

I complained to Member Services. A lady at Member Services said
X-rays were often available only on thermal paper, and, in fact,
she had recently had surgery and the only x-ray images she was
able to show her surgeon were on thermal paper. I asked her,
"Didn't your doctor want a sharper image?" She said, "Well, no, he
was an older gentleman, so it was fine with him."

Then a man called me from Member Services. He said the images were
never digitized. But this time the story was that some images had
been saved on glossy paper. He said, "You're not going to get a CD!"

Why didn't they want me to have a CD of those images? After all, the CD
should be quite reassuring, since the written report came back completely

Two very odd--and oddly different--printed reports

Perhaps a clue as to why I was not given the CD of the VUCG can be found
by looking at the following written report(s):

Click HERE to see the Kaiser VUCG reports.

I made an appointment with a different urologist. When I went to that
appointment, I was told no images were available.

I had so much pain one night that I went to the Emergency Room.
There were no VUCG images available to the ER doctors, but those
doctors said they weren't concerned since the report assured
them that all was normal. They completely ignored me when I
pointed out errors in the report. (Related story:
Kaiser retaliated against one of its emergency room physicians
when he complained about quality of care in the ER.)

I went to a new primary care doctor on July 12, and he was completely
uninterested in the missing VUCG images and the anomalies in the
report. He said the report was normal, and he "didn't have the
resources" to investigate anything.

I went home and wrote emails to doctors. I noted the following:

1) Dr. K co-signed my report on June 17, but that report is

2) It has been replaced by a report created on June 20 for a
patient whose VUCG was ordered by a different doctor on a
different date and was done the day after mine was done.

3) Dr. K obviously could not have co-signed the June 20 report
three days before it was written.

4) All the digitized images of my VUCG are "unavailable."

Finally, on July 12, after I presented the above information to my new
urologist, he emailed me to say that he had ALL THE DIGITIZED
IMAGES FROM MY VUCG, and he would show them to me at my
next appointment.

I emailed Dr. K about these discrepancies on July 12, but he has not
responded as of July 17.

I wonder if I will actually see these mysterious images.

Update August 1, 2011
No, I didn't see the images--even after talking to the head of the Urologic Surgery Department, Dr. Eugene Young Rhee. See full story HERE.

Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center
Urology Score Card 2010-2011

U.S. News Hospital Score

Worse than expected

Patient safety

Patient volume

Level of nurse staffing

Nurse Magnet hospital

Number of important technologies available in this specialty

1 comment:

Mama Lisa said...

I understand totally. I have Kaiser in Georgia - it is horrible. I have been very sick and I am praying that my kids don't get anything serious while my employer has this insurance.