Sunday, September 25, 2011

Is It Just Me?

by Leann

During the last week, I have had to deal with front desk folks at doctor's offices. If you are someone who works in a position like this, a kind, caring person who is understanding, this is not directed at you. Unfortunately I must deal with the doctor far more than I ever wanted to. Sometimes, my frustration just fills me up and spills over.

I've left doctors before because of staff who work the phones and are rude and uncaring. But I have stayed with my current doctor because she specializes in all the issues I am dealing with--fatigue causing illnesses. Those illnesses in and of themselves are frustrating. Add in people who couldn't care less about the patients and it almost feels like being fed poison. I began calling to change an appointment time on Thursday. I left messages, I sent e-mails, I called many many times where I didn't leave messages hoping to talk to a real person.

I finally reached someone at 4:20 on Friday. My issue took all of one minute of their time. Their issue--deciding to let the phone roll over to voice mail--cost me hours of time and way more frustration than I should be dealing with. I asked if they had a phone problem and was told they were answering the phone as soon as it rang. Sure. Right. Um, I don't think so. If I hadn't had problems in the past with the office staff not taking messages, arguing with me over prescriptions written incorrectly or failing to return my calls--not to mention their abrupt and unfriendly manner--maybe this latest incident wouldn't have bothered me so much. Perhaps I'm whining. Okay I am whining. But if you don't think the patients are important enough to answer the phone, then why are you working in the medical field? Just wondering. Anyone have an explanation? Similar experiences? Oh, and I am a nurse. It's not like I don't know the job can be stressful. But the patient should never pay because staff members think they're just too busy.

There. I feel better. :-)

19 comments:

grammie said...

I personally left a doctor that I loved because I couldn't deal with his office staff, even though my family stayed with him.

An'gel said...

I'm a nurse in a pediatric office. Contact the office manager and your doctor with your concerns. I have dealt with the same issues myself with rude front desk staff, as a patient and at my job. I agree with you on all your valid points!

FirstOfMay said...

I used to go to a clinic that was specifically for my disability. I couldn't call the clinic directly to get prescriptions filled. I had to call a special number at the hospital. Most of the time, they wouldn't answer my phone, so I had to go without medication until I got ahold of them. I finally started calling my family doctor and finally left the clinic after they stopped sending me appointments. Now I go to my family doctor, who I can't stand because he doesn't examine me...except for listening to my heart & taking my BP if he has to. All he does is chit chat, but he's on my dad's insurance as the primary care dr., so I'm stuck.

BusyMom said...

I have had very similar experiences. They don't have time for anyone and are super rude to boot. I have called to make an emergency appointment,,, their earliest opening, 5 days later. I landed up going to the ER. When I got home I wrote a letter to management of the office. Never once heard back to this day. I think it is a shame that people who took an oath to help people, do no such thing. When speaking to an office staff member when I went to get my files... I asked why they are like this.. her answer was the head doctor only wants each doctor to spend a total of 10-15 mins per patient and that is it. Well needless to say I am no longer there. That in itself tells me they are in it for the money only!

Debra said...

I have had your experience too. Once a secretary for a pediatrician called after my son had some tests and said it was urgent that I bring him in right away. Then she would only schedule the appointment in three days. I morphed into a very loud, very rude lawyer and saw the doc immediately. There was nothing wrong with my boy.
I used to think the docs didn't know how the staff treats the patients, but now I think the opposite is true. The MD's higher a gargoyle to screen out all but the most desperate patients/parents.
I have started doing those on-line ratings and checking them before going to a new doctor.

Leann Sweeney said...

The office manager was even more rude than the staff when the doctor directed me her way. Stuff rolls down hill and if the higher-ups have an uncaring attitude, it filters right down. It is SO frustrating.

Barbara said...

I worked in medical offices for longer than I care to remember. There is no excuse for rude behavior to patients. My husband and I walked out on a doctor because his staff over-booked him and we had always waited at least an hour. The last time it was over 2 hours. I had run-ins with his staff, including the office manager, prior to that. We never went back. Sometimes phones are ringing off the hook and there aren't enough people to answer, but all the time? No way! The MD we've been with for years actually apologizes if you have to wait AT ALL!

Harbingerdc said...

My husband has left his doctor, whom he liked a lot, due to staff issues. Pretty much most of the above plus they never bothered to properly send the charges through his insurance and then started sending him past due bills.

dollycas aka Lori said...

I had the opposite problem, the staff was wonderful, the doctor was a jerk. She told me a person with my right side and part of my left paralyzed that I should do yoga and go swimming everyday to relieve my pain instead of sending me to get on MRI that diagnosed a cyst on my spinal cord causing the pain. She also told me I had a small fracture in my arm that wasn't there.

We switched doctors and after having to wait to get an appointment for a week and a half which upset me but they didn't know my case, but I was in his office less than 5 minutes and told him the problem and he sent me for an MRI and within days had medication to handle the pain because the cyst is inoperable. Sadly the doctor closed his practice last year and moved to Canada, so we started all over with a new doctor who I like, the verdict is still out on the staff, there are so many of them I never have talked to them same one twice.

Leann Sweeney said...

Lori, that's inexcusable. I hope the new place you are going works out. The doctor I left before the doc I have now was due to staff issues, too. We'd already parted ways but then I got a call one day from a stranger who had found my 18 yr. old daughter's medical records in a public recycling bin at a school. She also called the local news station and they came out and interviewed me for the 5PM news and I expressed my great displeasure. Seems the doctor's husband and come and dumped an entire truck bed full of outdated medical records. I filed a complaint and her office was "censured." Nothing else happened to this doctor, but boy was I upset.

Lynda said...

Sorry for all the hassles you're dealing with. It's frustrating to deal with people who just plain don't care about the work they do (in any field).

With regard to your comment about your daughter's records...about 10 years ago I started getting people's personal medical records on my fax machine. It was from a home-care agency associated with a hospital in my area and the info was very sensitive. I contacted the home-care agency after the first fax, but they kept coming. I contacted them (and mailed the records back) after every instance. I eventually contacted the hospital and the faxes stopped. I probably should have contacted a news organization when it continued after the first fax. When they are dealing with something so personal as your medical records, there is no excuse for that kind of negligence.

Anonymous said...

It is a problem everywhere. I find it rare to work with any medical office staff that has manners or empathy for patients. I believe its indicitive of the last 2 generations where rudeness is their calling card and patients be damned for their needs. I had to work with many doctors offices while my elderly Mom was alive. Every single person was rude and insulting and incompetent. I recently walked as a new patient into a expensive dental office where the receptionist actually yelled at me!! I quit going to medical offices 6 years ago myself and never looked back. I go to a chrioprator and a massage therapist, accupuncture, where the staff is involved in the bottom line which is good care of patients. You will not find decent care in a western medical office, you only find decent care in other self care offices. Western medicine is only in it for the bottom line, money. Chinese medicine is all about the patient. They provide better care as well

Kate Collins said...

The same applies to secretaries in a law office. Why don't these people understand that their jobs rely on happy patients/clients? My sister left her lawyer because of the horrible secretary who wouldn't pass on messages. Why wasn't she fired? Because she was another lawyer's wife.

Sara said...

I have had issues with medical office staff in the past, but I count myself as very lucky with my doctors, as well as with their staff. My internist and gastroenterologist (I was diagnosed w/non-alcoholic cirrhosis in 2009) are in the same building. The office staff is always pleasant when I go in, and the girl I deal with in the office for the gastro is sweet as can be (his nurse can be off-putting at times, but it's just her personality and it's not horrible). The best part is that my internist is a computer geek and if I have a question or need a prescription refill I can email him (love that!)...I've even sent a message late at night telling him I feel a UTI coming on and if he's in town there's a reply in my inbox by 7:30 am that he's called in a scrip. Believe me, I know how lucky I am and count my lucky stars!!!

FirstOfMay said...

I forgot to mention that I also had a problem with one of the nurses at my family doctor's office. All my life, I have had issues with shots. I HATE needles and have ALWAYS gotten them in my leg since I can't feel them there. This includes flu shots. There was a nice woman in their lab who always gave me my flu shot in the leg. NO problem at all as long as it's in a muscle. She moved away. The nurse who gave me my flu shot after that REFUSED to give it to me in my leg. I argued with her since I was always taught "the customer is always right". After all, if there were major issues with giving it to me in my leg, I'm sure I would've been told YEARS before. She got short (rude) with me about it and I got it in my arm. I was ticked, to say the least, and my mom defended her, which made me even more angry. The next Dr. visit, the nurse totally ignored me because she knew better than to speak to me at that point. A year later, and I'm still ignoring her. I have someone else give me my shots now.

I also had trouble at the dentist once. Until recently, I had the same dentist since 4th grade. Loved him, but his one assistant was another story. During cleanings, I always had my mouth numbed with those swab things. Well, she refused--rudely. She even said they didn't use them anymore, which was a lie. She also knew I am a gagger. When she was doing the cleaning, at one point, I told her to stop, which they're supposed to do when you ask--especially when you're about to vomit. She wouldn't. I complained to my dentist--LOUDLY, and so did my mom. He actually put it in my chart that I was never to have that assistant take care of me again.

LORNA BARRETT (aka Lorraine Bartlett) said...

First of May: I'm a gagger, too. Two dentists have refused to believe me when it came to impression time for new crowns.

I puked on them.

That taught them to listen to a patient who tells them she has a problem.

My current dentist is a woman. Guess what. She listened to me. She has not yet been barfed on.

Aurian said...

Hi Leann, what if you made a report of every time you tried to call, etcetera, in one week. And give that to your doctor the next time you meet, so there is something concrete to be done. Evidence that it really did happen at those times.

Madison Johns said...

Leanne, medical files being thrown in a dumpster not shredded is a HIPPA violation. You can report those violations.

Sobaka said...

I have similar trouble with my doctor's office. I love the doctor. The staff are polite and friendly - if you can manage to speak to them. The phones are answered only between 8:30 and 4:30, and they don't have an answering machine or a messaging service, which means I have to make time while I'm at work to call them. It took me three days and multiple calls recently to get a prescription renewed. The first day the receptionist took the information and said it would not be called in to the pharmacy until the next day because the nurse was out that day. The next evening the pharmacy didn't have it; they had never received notification. I called three times during the third day to leave messages and argue (through the receptionist) with the nurse who said it was too early for a new prescription (it wasn't; she had misread the date of the last prescription, and not bothered to let me know that she wasn't going to call it in to the pharmacy). I was finally able to pick up the prescription at the pharmacy the evening of the third day. When I use mail order pharmacy services for another prescription, I always have to put the request in at least twice before they get around to filling it. This office prescribed these medications for me; why are they making it so hard for me to get them? I am sure they are just understaffed; whenever I'm in the office the phones are constantly ringing and the receptionists are always doing several things at once. But it's very frustrating.