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I cannot believe what I have just been through with our local hospital

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In Feb I found a lump in my breast and went to a bulk billing GP to ask for a3D mammogram as I had been told in the past that I had a dense breast tissue and it was hard to read. At this stage it was offered re bulk billing in 2 imaging services in Townsville 2 days a week. I 1st asked the GP for a blood test form as the Endocrinologist at the hospital got in touch 3 months after I had bloods taken as I was again in a hyper state. The GP became very grumpy and said the hospital should have organised this. I then asked for thyroid scripts as running low. Then I asked for a referral form for a 3D mammogram as I had found a lump and the imaging do bulk billing so many days a week. He was not aware that such a test existed and told me to book another apptmnt with him to discuss it at a later date. At no stage was I examined. The following week I got Covid and it took 5 weeks to become symptom free.

I was just starting to feel strong again when I was woken at 3am with severe pain at the back of my head. After trying paracetamol and nurofen with no relief I visited the closest doctors as I knew driving any distance was out as I had intermittent blurriness of vision. I was assessed and the doc called an ambulance as he was concerned. On thw ride to the hospital the ambo driver asked if I had had Covid and when I said yes, she said I was suffering from a cluster headache which she told the admitting when we arrived. I was put in the general waiting room and it was quite a wait until I was allowed to enter ED. I was given a bed but explained I could not lie down due to the pain worsening if I tried. It took awhile until a doc appeared to assess me. I did tell her about the lump in my breast and my abnormal thyroid levels ( I had thyroidectomy years ago due to cancer ). She then asked the nurse to take some bloods and the nurse refused as she said I was not a high category and she needed to deal with the more urgent cases. So the doc took the blood herself but at no stage examined my breast. As I would not lie down I was moved into the low category patients waiting area to sit in a chair. I was told a head CT would be performed at some stage. After hrs sitting in the chair, I decided to go home as the sheer exhaustion set in. So lets get this straight, I had now mentioned the lump to 2 medical professionals.

The following week I woke hubby at 2am to say I was ringing healthline as the mild pain in my chest had migrated to my upper back and I could not lie down and sleep as it was agony. Healthline rung for an ambulance and off to hospital again. This time as cat 2 I was seen quickly. The ED doc hooked me up to an EKG which showed my heart was fine. I was then told it might be reflux. Nothing was done until the morning shift started. The next ED doc sent me off for a chest xray called for a head CT as I mentioned the pain in the back of my head had been constant for over 2 weeks. I asked if the chest xray would show up any abnormalities as the lump had grown considerably. He asked what lump so I explained thecrap I had been through. He added the chest area to the CT scan. I had visit from the ED doc about an hour after the imaging with the news that there were 2 masses in my right breast and there seemed also the be bone involvement with my spine ( hence not being able to lie down) neck and rib cage. He said I would likely be admitted but he needed to talk to the surgeon. I was then given strong pain relief so I could finally lie down and take a nap. I was woken by a surgeon who was abrubt and in too much of a hurry to answer my questions. He said I would be treated as an outpatient and said I would have to arrange a 3D mammogram with biopsy and ultrasound. He asked me why I did not seek help earlier and I got a bit shouty at that stage saying that I told not 1 but 2 medical professionals who did not feel the need to even examine me He left. Half an hour later I had a massive panic and left the hospital. I have now found out why I was not admitted. I have to pay thousands for these tests but if I was admitted the hospital bears the cost. There is no way I can pay for these tests as we are now living week to week as all our savings disappeared supporting my husband who had a stroke and went into heart failure in 2020 and needs expensive meds. I cannot actually get help from anywhere as the mass needs to be diagnosed before any help will be given. Catch 22. No help at all from the hospital and yesterday I contacted the Breast Cancer Network and their opinion was as there is bone involvement I should be considered as an urgent case and not dealt with as an outpatient. I went back to my old GP who was generous enough to say she would only bulk bill me and I am now on 2 types of Oxy just to try an keep the pain under control. My ribs are now painful and I still have severe pain at the back of my head with ongoing visual disturbances. And the lump in my breast is increasing quickly. Also I found out that the Qld Health has taken away a lot of the support for 3D mammograms as bulk billing is down to one day a week at an imaging centre. I know they have to Pay for the Olympics but there is something not right about stripping away so much in public health.

Comments

  • maggie15
    maggie15 Member Posts: 948
    edited May 2023
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    trix59, I'm sorry that you have had such a harrowing medical experience. It's happened to me several times, in Scotland and in two different US states, so unfortunately it can happen anywhere. I was in NZ for six months but never Australia so I don't know the ins and outs of the insurance rules there.

    This shows the importance of researching the regulations which govern authorization for treatments and payment for procedures. When I couldn't breathe unless I was standing or sitting bolt upright I went to the urgent care clinic first. The doctor sent me to the ED immediately and asked why I hadn't gone there on my own. I told him that I had learned my insurance will definitely cover an ED visit if I am sent by a medical professional. At the time I was still fighting the denial of an ED visit which ended in hospital admission for a different problem eight months prior; that was eventually was paid but at the time I already had that large bill hanging over my head.

    In the US there are professionals who will deal with bills for insurance denials and charges that should have been covered for about a 6 - 10% cut of what they save you. I don't know if they exist in Australia but there might be someone who works in the hospital (patient advocate, social worker) who can help with this. Right now you should get the biopsy as soon as possible. Nobody wants to get a malignant result but if that is what is causing your problems you will be eligible for financial assistance. I hope this all works out.