Monday, April 19, 2010


How do you all feel about doctors with whom you schedule an appointment at, say, 10:00am - and you don't get in to see him until 11:00am.  You are forced to sit in a waiting room for an hour with a TV blaring at you usually stuck on some obnoxious morning show program - or worse, a soap opera.  You are a captive audience.  I once turned the TV off - a verboten action, which caused all the other waiting patients to look panicky but relieved.  I actually broke the group mold, got up, asked everyone if they minded if I turned the thing off (none of them did).

I think maybe the receptionist should give you one of those beeping things that restaurants use - and let you wander around, provided, of course, there is a place you actually might want to wander around, like a store or library or something.

How about when you have lab work done and you get a call on a Friday afternoon that the Dr. would like to schedule an appointment with you to discuss your results.  What is your first reaction?  There MUST be something wrong!  Oh my gosh!!  What could it be?  And NOW you have to wait until at least Monday to find out what it is.  In my case, this happened the first time I had lab work done at this office until I realized that this Dr. ALWAYS makes you come back in to discuss your results - it means another copay for him.  I told my gynecologist about this practice of my general physician and she immediately said - "He just wants another copay.  He should respect his patient's time - it's valuable, too."  Amen, sister (she is a woman)!!  So the Dr. just wants to collect - not just another copay - but the full office visit amount which will be billed to your insurance - for nothing, really.  AND they scare you into the bargain.  How rude, how inconsiderate, how arrogant.  

This is what happened to me today for the last time.  About 6 months ago after I had lab work done - to test my thyroid because I take Synthroid for an underactive thyroid - I gave them such a hard time that they gave me the results over the phone and called in a new prescription for me.  But this only occurred after I got, let us say, forceful and then the office person got positively nasty - and then I got nasty back and demanded that I get my results without further ado.  For some reason, that worked.  Seriously, I didn't think demanding would change a thing, but it did in this case.  

Well, a week ago I had more lab tests done - primarily to test my thyroid again, but other blood tests were included also.  All was back to normal as far as policy was concerned.  I got a message on my answering machine at home on Friday afternoon saying that I needed to call the Dr.'s office to schedule an appointment to discuss my lab results.  Despite my knowledge that this is their policy no matter how normal the results are, a little voice in the back of my head said, "what if something is wrong??"  Luckily, there was still time to call the office back before they closed for the weekend.

The young man I spoke to put me on hold when I told him I was calling about my results - and then he got back on the phone and said I would have to schedule an appointment, that the Dr. wanted to go over the results with me.  I asked him point blank, "is there anything serious?"  He said no - and so I scheduled for this morning at 10:30am.

Today came, I got busy at work, I looked up at the clock and saw that it was 10:25 and remembered.  Aaarrrgh!!  I drove as quickly as I could to the Dr.'s office and arrived 20 minutes late.  I went to the receptionist and apologized for being late (the first time I ever have been) and expected to just be told to wait a bit.  I know the Dr. is only going to take about 5 minutes MAX to go over the results and issue a new prescription strength for Synthroid, if necessary - so he could probably cut away to see me quickly.

But no.  The receptionist looked at me and said, "you're 30 minutes late," and proceeded to write this condemnation on my test results in my chart.  I told her it could not be helped and she, looking annoyed, turned to the Queen Receptionist (the office manager I think) and said, "she's 30 minutes late - what do you want to do?"  Queen said with disdain, "Reschedule."  The attitude was palpable.  How DARE I be late.  And how DARE I even imagine that I'll be seen at this late time.  

Let me tell you something about the Queen Receptionist.  She calls older people, including myself, "sweetie," or "dear."  That may not seem bad to you, but it's the tone in which this is said.  It is patronizing and condescending.  The older the patient, the more saccharine sweet the "Dear, please sit down and we'll be RIGHT with you" is.  The "dear" has been sitting in the same chair in the waiting room for about an hour before she finally and slowly gets up and shuffles over to the receptionist and asks in a quiet, private voice, "how long do you think it will be?"  The answer comes in a voice calculated to carry to the parking lot and beyond from the Queen Receptionist, "The Doctor is VERY BUSY today, sweetie.  Why don't you just have a seat and we'll be RIGHT WITH YOU."  What Queenie really wants to say is "Sit down, shut up and wait until you're called," - and it shows.

So, to make a long story short - I told Queenie that I would not be rescheduling and that I wanted a copy of my test results so I could look them over myself.  Queenie, in a tone designed to intimidate, said, "Well, I'll give you the copy, but if you have ANYTHING you want to discuss, you MUST reschedule to see the doctor."  The fact that I certainly had better not try to call in and TALK to the Doctor about any test results was understood.  

I got my copy, went to my car and read my results.  My LDL cholesterol is a tiny bit higher than it should be, although the overall cholesterol is fine.  My thyroid is still underactive, since the high edge of normal is 4.5 and mine was 4.89.  I'm taking 100mg a day of Synthroid now, so I guess it will have to be "upped" a bit.  I feel fine, though, so it can wait until I see my new Dr. in May.  

Of course, the new Dr. will want - most likely - to do their own lab work, but that's ok.  Maybe they will surprise me and accept the lab results I have right now.  

The whole reason I have been seeing the Dr. with the Queen Receptionist is because my insurance changed and my old Dr, (actually, his Nurse Practitioner - loved her!) whom I had seen for years and years, did not accept the new insurance.  I called my old Dr's office and asked if my old Nurse Practitioner could recommend someone.  The office staff there were always nice and today was no exception.  The lady who answered the phone put me on hold for several minutes while she spoke to Laurie (the Nurse Practitioner) and got the information for me.  I have called this new office and already made an appointment.
Wish me "luck".

1 comment:

Island Rider said...

And we think the governemnt can do better. Hope you feel better soon.