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My Letter to Kaiser…

August 25, 2011

Dear Member Services:

I am writing today to let you know of a very negative experience I had today, August 18, 2011 at around 11:45 a.m. at the Lab at Vandever.

My 4-year-old daughter needed to have her blood drawn for a lead test in order to start preschool.  She and I had talked about what to expect and what was going to happen. She understood that she would be poked with a needle and blood would be taken out of her arm. She has never had a problem with getting her vaccines, so I didn’t anticipate this blood draw would be a problem.

We were called back. I sat down in the chair with my daughter on my lap. A second phlebotomist came over to assist in keeping my daughter still. The first phlebotomist prepped my daughter and poked her. My daughter flinched a little and then proceeded to scream and wiggle in pain. I couldn’t see what was going on with my daughter’s arm, as my daughter’s body was between me and the first phlebotomist. I could see the second phlebotomist grimacing as my daughter continued to scream hysterically. I assume that the gal missed and was wiggling the needle around in my daughter’s arm trying to find the vein.  My daughter was obviously in pain and finally the first phlebotomist removed the needle and told me she needed to try again.

I was upset, but I understand that it happens sometimes.

My real issues began when a third phlebotomist came over to “assist.” My daughter was very upset, screaming, flailing her arms, kicking her feet and was just generally uncooperative.  I was trying to calm her down before we attempted with her other arm. Instead of giving me some time to calm my daughter down, the lab staff immediately grabbed for my daughter’s arm and tried to get the strap around her arm. My daughter hit the first phlebotomist and grabbed the strap.

I asked again for a minute to calm my daughter down. She is four-years –old. She was very frightened and her arm was sore. They continued to try and get the strap on my daughter’s arm, while she continued to scream and kick.  Again I said, “Give me a minute to calm her down.”

At which point, the third phlebotomist looked at me and said, “We are 10 behind, we don’t have a minute. We have to do this now!”  I don’t know for sure exactly what “10 behind” means, I assume it had to do with patient numbers and wait times.  It seemed to me your lab staff was more concerned with numbers and quotas rather than paying attention to the four-year-old child who was petrified on my lap. That is unacceptable.

My daughter was still screaming hysterically and coughing and gagging.

I was so upset at that point, that I grabbed my daughter up in my arms to shield her from the lab staff. I told them I was going to take a minute for everyone to re-group.

It took me at most 90 seconds to calm my daughter down enough that we moved into the back room and had her lie down on the table. She was still frightened, but she was calm. The first phlebotomist tried again and was successful with one easy poke to get the blood draw done. My daughter was calm and even giggled saying it didn’t hurt at all.

I understand we were taking time from the staff, but I also know that if I had been given 60 seconds the first time I asked for a minute to calm my daughter down before we tried on arm number two, the whole scenario would have never happened.

It was just extremely frustrating for me as a parent to feel like my daughter’s feelings and fears didn’t matter. It seemed that the staff members only cared about getting the numbers moved through the system.

I would really like some reassurance that your staff members are trained to remember that while numbers and wait times are important, the bottom line is the human connection.  I am fairly certain that the people sitting in the waiting area – especially those with children – would have been happier to wait an extra minute in silence than have to sit there listening to my child’s blood curdling screams  as your staff continued to push the issue.

I can guarantee that the next time my child has to have blood drawn, she will remember today and it is only going to make things more difficult the next time.

I apologize I was so upset that I didn’t get the names of anyone involved in the situation.  But maybe that’s a good thing, maybe your entire staff needs a general reminder that it’s your members – the people – not the numbers that should matter the most.

Thank you for your time,



9 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan Thomas permalink
    August 25, 2011 10:08 pm


    As an RN, I am appalled at their lack of human consideration! I am so sorry your baby had to go through that. I know at the hospital I work at, that wouldn’t happen, but if it did, this letter would be forwarded to all the staff to remind us all to take a minute and remember that the patiets alway come first! Hopefully your daughter will never have to experience anything so traumatic again at the hands of medical professional.

  2. fixitmommy permalink*
    August 25, 2011 10:31 pm

    Thanks Susan. It was a bad day. I was a bit ticked, I send it to the top two admins at Kaiser San Diego, the Lab manager and member services!! If it had been my older daughter I would probably never get her in the building again. The Little One will be tough to get in the Lab again, but she will handle it much better than the Big One!

  3. karen permalink
    August 26, 2011 12:38 pm

    You go, Momma! That was NOT okay and I hope they take some positive action to correct this. Im guessing any other child that heard poor Sarah screaming wasnt a dream to draw blood on either! Ignoring your patients’ needs only makes your job harder.

  4. stacie permalink
    August 26, 2011 2:17 pm

    I am so glad you sent this letter, my 23 year old STILL has to have a butterfly needle used on her veins. There is an excellent tech at the zion lab, he is wonderful with children. Hopefully your big one will forget this trauma and remember that it didn’t hurt ‘at all’ afterall.

    • stacie permalink
      August 26, 2011 2:18 pm

      oops I meant little one..

  5. fixitmommy permalink*
    August 26, 2011 3:00 pm

    My mom said to go to Zion if we ever have to go again. She said overall the staff seems a bit better. 🙂 If it had been the big one, I would be toast, she’d never go in the building again! The little one is much more forgiving. We went back the next day to pick up the school paperwork after the ped signed it. There was a “code silver” so I am not going back any time soon! {Some friends of ours were locked down for a couple hours while they waited for the” man with a gun” to be apprehended. YIKES!!}

  6. Laura permalink
    August 26, 2011 4:38 pm

    You go! Totally appropriate and I hope someone there gets read the riot act. Kudos to your little one for being more mature and patient than the staff.


  7. Laura permalink
    August 26, 2011 4:39 pm

    Also, you’ll have to keep us posted on the type of reply/response you get….

  8. Christy permalink
    September 8, 2011 10:03 am

    Oh, I would have been livid and my child might not have been the only one hitting people! You weren’t taking time from the staff, you were the patient/customer and it is their job to spend time with their patients.

    I’m glad we have different requirements here in Alabama. My four-year old still has not had to have blood drawn, and has been in preschool/daycare since he was three months old.

    Hope your next experience is much better.

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