I am continually going nuts over garbled phone messages, lost information packages, confused wait lists and other general communication screw ups coming from this hospital. This is a general complaint about several departments and dozens of missed communications.

No matter how many times i try to correct it, they always call the wrong phone number (my wife’s, not mine) and leave a garbled message without a call back number. The number showing on the message is always a generic hospital number. The operator cannot find a real callback number due to the fact that the messages are gabled (often with a thick accent). The caller ALWAYS assumes I know what they are talking about and I almost NEVER do! It is also not possible to call the hospital and ask for a department. Apparently this information is not available even if the department is known.

I just discovered that they also have the wrong postal code for me, even though it has been read off my driver’s license at least a dozen times. For this reason, garbled promises to send some unknown package to me by mail always result in nothing showing up. In many cases, I am not notified that the package (such as a lab requisition or appointment) is “in the mail” so I don’t know that I have missed it.

Most recently, this has resulted in my NOT being notified of an extremely urgent appointment resulting from a referral from my cardiologist. After getting a little personal help from a nurse who just HAPPENED to know the doctor in question, I found an actual phone number and found that the referral had, apparently, been lost. After a few more calls, it turned out that the referral had been expedited (and lost from the official list). I had indeed been referred but the only way I found out about that was through a (garbled) message from someone I had never heard from that my (previously unknown) appointment had been rescheduled.

I know everyone is trying their best but there is an urgent requirement to fix what seems to be a fairly simple quality control problem. It is not a stretch of the imagination to see how this kind of error could result in loss of life.

– There should be guidelines as to the content of phone messages, especially to leave a call back number, name of the person calling, doctor and department involved and to speak slowly and clearly.

– When a patient complains that communications are getting lost, the complaint should be acted upon and “kicked upstairs” to a quality control process. There is no reason why this issue should come up EVERY TIME !!