Patient without a name, Waitlist without a number

In Pipe down I wrote that despite assumptions to the contrary, there are waiting lists for health care in the US. Even in Boston, a medical hub.

At Children’s Hospital in Boston it takes six months to get an assessment for a child whose speech is delayed. I recently learned that there is a 10 month wait at Children’s to have a child assessed for cognitive development issues that affect performance at school. I guess parents just need to tell the teacher, wait till next year!

Anyway, the father of the kid with the 10 month wait gave me an update. It turns out they won’t even give him the date for an appointment! They just told him he’s on the waitlist. In case you think I’m exaggerating I’ve uploaded a scanned copy of the letter he received. As you’ll see there’s no worry about breaching confidentiality since the letter has no identifying information on it and is not personalized to the patient’s situation at all.

The second paragraph is especially lame:

The length of time that your child will be on the waitlist varies according to the age of the child and the availability of the particular specialist that your child will need to see. We appreciate your understanding and want to assure you we are working to provide your child with the best possible care.


It doesn’t even say what will  happen next. Is the parent supposed to follow up? Will Children’s Hospital contact him? If so, when?

January 16, 2009

6 thoughts on “Patient without a name, Waitlist without a number”

  1. I wonder how prevalent this is outside of childrens’ developmental and speech disorder. We went through the same thing in Houston, a city of a large number of medical facilities, including a superb childrens’ hospital. During the tbd wait, we paid out of pocket for speech therapy and other therapies that I researched ( Web 2.0) and that made the difference. I am convinced that the TBD wait would have been irreversible, with a resultant cost of society far in excess of what I had to pay out of pocket. Scary and sad!

  2. I have found in my career as a parent that paying out of pocket for some kinds of consultation services is an excellent use of funds. I live in a Metropolitan area, and oddly these specialized resources are available if the pay is cash.

    Unfortunately I also think that some schools/teachers are very quick to plop your child into the “developmental issues” category.

  3. All I can say is that the health department of Carroll County, Maryland proved timely and efficient when we needed similar services.

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