Monday, February 24, 2014

Dr. Stephen Deschner, VCU Health System, MCV- Richmond, Virginia

VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) Health System, MCV (Medical College of Virginia) Hospital, Spine Center, Stony Point Virginia- Dr. Stephen Deschner

I am writing this post in hopes that it helps anyone who is looking for a pain management doctor in Virginia. I did not want to see these people to begin with, not only because it is a 2 hour drive from my house but also because they are affiliated with MCV Hospital and I wanted nothing to do with this office to begin with. When my pain doctor at Capital Spine Center in Fredericksburg, Virginia (who took over when my nurse practitioner left) wrote the referral I asked multiple times for anyone else. I also asked my primary care doctor to refer me to anyone that is NOT affiliated with MCV. They both told me that I had no other options and Dr. Deschner was the leading doctor in the state of Virginia.

Allow me to digress for a moment as to why I was referred to this office to begin with. I had been a patient of Capital Spine for about 2 years. My first visit with them was not a good one; I met with a doctor and a nurse practitioner. Dr. Wisor was the doctor assigned to my case. He was an arrogant doctor who I was not as ease with. He yelled at me for firing my last guy and told me I can’t just fire a pain doctor… really? I mean why the hell do you think I am here? If you don’t want the money my insurances pays that is fine I will find another doctor. After meeting with Dr. Wisor and being unimpressed I was then introduced to his nurse practitioner (Michelle O’Conner). She was great and I was told she will be taking over my case and I will be dealing with her from then on. Michelle was great, and with her help I was able to weed out which meds I had been taking from other doctors that were not working. We continued for almost 2 years. We had reached a point that the pain meds were not working well and we were researching other options to discuss at my next appointment. I then received a call 2 weeks later telling me that my appointment had been changed and Michelle is no longer with the practice and I am scheduled to meet with Dr. Raymond Greaser. It is at this appointment that Dr. Greaser informs me that my body seems to have grown a tolerance of this medication (Morphine Sulfate 30 mg 4 x a day) and that we need to consider another option. During this 20 minute visit Dr. Greaser mentions his medical degree from Harvard and interned at Johns Hopkins. Instead of taking over my case and helping me he decided I was unworthy of his services and he wrote a referral to MCV without warning. I explained to him the reasons I do not want to use MCV due to previous experiences. He ignored me and sent me on my way. I then followed up with my primary care doctor (Balaji Raghu), who also agreed with Dr. Greaser that I needed to see VCU/MCV Health.

I finally conceded that none of my doctors are willing to help me and I had to go to the appointment with Dr. Deschner. My first appointment the doctor and I spent 2 hours going over my medical history step by step. He also agrees that the Morphine Sulfate is not working as well and it should. We then go over two other options in great detail, this takes about another hour. I am told the two options at this point are either Fentanyl or Methadone. Due to my age he did not want to prescribe Methadone. We decided to try the Fentanyl Patches. I then had to drive back to Fredericksburg to see my neurologist. After that appointment I had to drive to 3 different pharmacies before I found one that had the patches. The first day it took a few hours before I began to feel some pain relief. This was one of the hottest days of the year at over 104 degrees outside. I grilled steaks for dinner that night. All was well until bedtime. I went to bed, and as soon as I lay down I was hit with overwhelming nausea and very dizzy. I attempted to close my eyes and wait it out. Instead I found myself running to the bathroom and losing my dinner. I went through my prescription information packet and found on page 3 a note that says not to exercise, take hot showers, use a hot tub, or do anything that would cause an increase of body temperature as it would cause too much of the medication to go into my system at once. This would have been nice to know before starting this med. I was extremely nauseated for 3 days. The pain relief stopped during day 2. I contacted Dr. Deschner’s office and was told to wait it out as I may be adjusting to the medication change. I was also told to try changing locations of new patch (every 3 days). I broke out in a rash the day I removed the patch. I put a new patch on my leg this time instead of my arm. I then broke out in a rash on my leg and still couldn’t eat anything. At this point I decided this was not working for me and I removed the patch and treated the rashes. I called the doctor to move up my appointment and still had to wait another 4 days before my appointment; with no pain medication and 6 broken vertebrae, a broken foot, and Multiple Sclerosis. At this point Dr. Deschner decides I am not worthy of even considering putting me on Methadone (even though he just told me at my last appointment that I had 2 options; Methadone or Fentanyl), and then wrote a prescription for the same Morphine Sulfate for the same amount and same frequency. He will not discuss any other options at this time.

Fast forward a few months to January. I am still complaining about the Morphine Sulfate not working. This is the reason I was sent to see him in the first place. Knowing that I will be having surgery soon he does not want to put me on a new medication and have to worry about potentially harmful side effects. This means I am to stay on the Morphine Sulfate, doesn’t matter that my body has built a tolerance to this medication over the now 2 years I have been on it. I was able to fill the January prescription without a problem. I was finally cleared for surgery and scheduled to go in on Friday, Feb 14th. When I went to pick up my prescription refill on Feb 10th, I was informed that my insurance refused to cover the dosage. They would only cover up to three a day. At this point I decide to get in touch with the doctor’s office to get it straight instead of losing one fourth of my prescribed dosage. I also figure if they do not get it straight by Wednesday afternoon, I will go on and have the prescription filled for the 90 pills vs. the 120 prescribed. From Monday to Wednesday I call repeatedly to the doctor trying to get this taken care of. When it still has not been cleared up by Wednesday afternoon I bite the bullet and tell the pharmacy to just fill the 90 because I do not have time to wait.

This is when the bombshell is dropped. The pharmacist cannot get the prescription to go through for 90 either as the insurance will only approve 3 tablets. Total. Of the 120 prescribed. This is less than a 1 day supply. I am scheduled for surgery in 2 days. Call VCU Health, again, they were no help. I was told that I needed to contact my insurance company. It takes me 95 minutes (yes, over an hour and a half) to get through to a representative with my insurance company. I explain the situation and the importance of getting this done before Friday. The rep sends the necessary paperwork to VCU/ Dr. Deschner along with marking the claim as expedited response because I am out of medication. Thursday morning I contact Dr. Deschner’s office and am informed they did indeed receive the fax and have sent it back but have not heard back from the insurance company. I remind them I am scheduled for surgery the next day. I call back to my insurance company and they tell me they have not received anything from the doctor. Get the doctor back on the line and ask again to get the info sent to insurance. They tell me they have sent it multiple times and every time they call they cannot get through. I ask if he can write me something else so we can just get through this surgery, I am then informed that Dr. Deschner is on vacation until Feb 18th, and that no one else can write me a prescription. This makes me wonder which doctor is supposedly signing the prescription amount override paperwork. This lack of help on their part has now led me to cancel my surgery last minute because I cannot get my pain medication filled.

In all this mishap cost me:

· 9 days without pain meds

· 27 phone calls to Dr. Deschner/ VCU/ MCV

· 7 calls to my insurance company

· Last minute surgery cancellation

· 4 trips to the pharmacy

· An emergency trip to the doctor’s office (2 hours each way from my house)

· A trip from doctor office to downtown Richmond

· A quarter or a mile hike each way from my car to the records department on a broken foot.

I have seen some pretty crappy doctors since being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis but this one takes the cake and the trophy. Of the 27 calls that I made to Dr. Deschner’s office, I was able to speak to the nurse 4 times, the other 23 calls resulting in me leaving a message for her and only 3 of those messages were returned. It is day 9 of me being out of pain meds and getting nothing accomplished on their end that I got in my car and drove 2 hours to this office. I was coming off of the exit on the interstate when they called to tell me they had finally gotten my medication approved. At this point I continued on to their office so that I could get a copy of my medical file to take to the next doctor because I was absolutely done with this office.

One would think asking them to print out your medical record (Pushing the print button after opening my electronic patient file) would not be a big pain, again I am proven wrong. After filling out my request, I am informed that the medical records are handled by MCV, and they would send my request on Friday (It was Wednesday), and then it would take 3 to 4 WEEKS to be processed and sent to me. OR… I could drive to downtown Richmond to MCV, and get them myself and yes I have to pay for getting a copy of my own, but they would be happy to send them to my doctor for free. This is pretty much the only option I have as I cannot reschedule my foot surgery until I have a new pain management doctor.

Not only am I adding another 40 miles to my trip to get to MCV, but I have to pay to park in the only parking deck which is so full it take me 5 levels below the street before I find a spot. Of course this spot is at the far end of the parking lot and I have to walk (with my broken foot in a cast to hold it together) all the way to the other end to get to the elevator. I make it into the hospital and get directions to the records department which is 3 buildings away all connected with tunnels and steep ramps (according to my maps on my phone it is a quarter of a mile hike). I finally hobble into the records department. Fortunately for me, they are somewhat competent and they are able to produce my medical file and it only cost me $9.00 for all 18 pages of it. Then I had to hobble back to my car, pay for parking and make my way back up to Fredericksburg. Then instead of going home, I had to go back to the pharmacy to get my medication.

I was fortunate enough to find a doctor up here that was not only willing to see me but willing to actually treat me. I decided to write all of this out for one reason. I hope that anyone considering using VCU, MCV, or Dr.Deschner sees this before they make an appointment. I hope that I can save at least one person from ever having to go through all of this unnecessary torture. There was no reason whatsoever that anyone would be treated like this. I know that this is a really long post but I feel like this real-life nightmare needed to be shared.