How do I know what the NH doctor is actually doing for my Mom when he sees her?

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I receive a statement every other month with nothing but numbers and codes and dollar amounts. In over a year that my Mom has been in the nursing home, the doctor has never called or written me regarding my Mom's progress or condition. He charges from $120 to $65 per visit. He gets reimbursed from Medicare and I pay the balance. The only time we ever spoke was when I had to pay out of pocket for her first month in the nursing home.

I have called his office and spoke with staff, who sent me on a wild goose chase to a call center in another country. They were no help and the communication was terrible. I actually don't understand the billing and needed clarification and so far they haven't gotten back with me.

I called the doctor's office back and asked a few questions about what I was getting for my money and the receptionist said she would have to call the nursing home and they would call me back in a day or two.

I certainly don't mind paying for services rendered but it would sure be nice to know exactly what I am paying for. Mom, has dementia and she never remembers any doctor seeing her. Not that she would let anyone touch her anyway but that is a whole other topic.

I have hired an elder care management company to oversee Mom's care and I often ask our nurse to check to see what the doctor had to say. She will report back on lab tests and medication if anything was changed.

I can't help but wonder what exactly goes on, as I live thousands of miles away and don't have first- hand knowledge. Mom often complains to me about items that I think someone who sees her twice a month should be aware of if they are physically examining her.

I don't know if the social worker in charge of her floor would be able to help me. I may call her this week. I guess, I need to know what is best way under my circumstances to develop communication with this doctor. By the way, this doctor was not Mom's primary before the nursing home. It is not an option to use her old doctor, so we must use the one on staff.

Mom also has a psychiatrist (&/or his nurse) visit occasionally and I went through the same lack of communication with him. I wrote a letter and eventually I got a call from the nurse who does most of the visits and we has a nice chat. She will also e-mail occasionally with updates.

Everything seems so impersonal. I have no one who lives near my Mom who can help me and I am the only child. Moving Mom closer to me is not an option and I doubt if I will be able to visit her in the future. Tough situation. Thanks.

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The doctors who attend to nursing home patients have the best deal in town, in my estimation. I've had similar experiences as you have. These doctors see so many patients and don't seem to want to talk to the family members. They are getting paid good money and we deserve to get through to them. But, like you, I have had the run around as my mother is in a facitlity as well. The nurses seem to be our best advocates as well as the social worker from the facility or the nurse manager of the floor. I've had occasions where I had to keep calling and calling to get the doctor to call me back. But, I kept at it until I received the information about my mother that I deserved. It is a difficult task, but you have to be relentless in your attempts to contact them.

I've been going through this kind of thing for years with different family members and found that they eventually call back if I don't let them off thehook.
It shouldn't be this way, but it is. I live 2 hours from my mother's facility, so if she needs a specialist, I can take her to see one myself. It is more difficult for you being so far away. You are taking good care of her from such a distance and doing all the right things. It is frustrating to have to be given the runaround, but just keep at it; and after a while, they seem to "get it" and call back. Take care.
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