Monday, February 17, 2014

Enough Is Enough! Kate Fights Back

by Kate Collins

Writing about a strong-willed, courageous female sleuth has had a major impact on me. Abby Knight stands up against injustice in many forms, so the other day, I was so put out that I channeled her courage to stand up against an injustice. It happened at my eye doctor's office.

Correction. My former eye doctor's office.

Backtrack to October, 2013, when I had my first ever appointment at what I shall refer to as The Big Eye Clinic. You know the kind --branches in other cities, doctors who travel between them, lots of staff, expensive equipment, and oodles of designer eyewear. I showed up ten minutes before the appointed time of 1 p.m. to fill out forms. Then I took a seat in the waiting area and read -- for half an hour. When I tired of reading, I played games on my phone for another half hour. Finally, I was called into a room where a technician did a preliminary eye exam.

From there I went into an inner waiting room and read -- for a half hour. I was called into one of their many exam rooms to wait another fifteen minutes. I was about to complain when the doctor finally materialized, did a routine exam, then told me he wanted pics of the insides of my eyes. Fine. Except that I was returned to the inner room to wait another half hour.

This happened to me twice more before I was through, and when I left there, I'd put in almost three-and-a-half hours, spent who knows how much money on all the tests they did, and with a total doctor-patient time of maybe fifteen minutes. Oh, and my prescription hadn't changed.

Fast forward to last week, when I went to Target to order more contacts. Oops! Sorry, the optician said. You need a contact lens prescription. All you have is an eye glass prescription. She called The Big Eye Clinic and was told that I had to come back for that. Yes! Three-and-a-half hours apparently wasn't enough time to squeeze that part into the exam.

So I had to make another appointment. Half an hour before that time, I called to ask if the doctor was running on time, as I did not want a repeat of the first time. Oh, yes, I was told. On time.

Not. I waited thirty-five minutes, went through the prelim again, the inner waiting room, and finally got to see the same doctor. When he asked how I was -- I called forth my inner Abby.

"Peeved," I said. "When you go to your dentist, tax accountant, lawyer or any sort of business for an appointment, do you expect to spend four out of your eight hour day there -- waiting?"

"We're transferring over computer files to a new system," he said with a bored shrug.

Oh, no. Not getting off that easily. I reminded him that my wait had nothing to do with computers. It was about inefficiency. His 10:30 appointment took one hour. So why was my appointment at 10:45? If it takes him an hour to see a patient, why do his people schedule them so close?

He had no answers, just a guilty look. He did admit that I had made a fair case. But will that change the way they do business? I hope so. That was why I spoke up --not for me, because I'm not going back -- but for the people who will keep putting up with those long waits because they don't want to go through the hassle of starting over somewhere else.

But shouldn't they? Shouldn't we all take a stand against injustice? Shouldn't those Big Eye Clinics lose patients for that kind of rudeness? Because it is unjust to make people wait an inordinate amount of time, as if their time was completely unimportant.

I feel good about speaking up. If I had said nothing, it would have bugged me for days.

What will you do in that kind of situation if it ever happens to you?


Mark Baker said...

I'm more of a rant in my care for an hour while I'm stuck in traffic trying to drive home kind of person. I should really take a cue form Abby and you.

lavendersbluegreen said...

I become peeved, I tell them, then I write a strongly worded letter and they often lose my business.

Susan L. @ Full Happy Muffin and Mama said...

I hate to say it, but the entire medical profession may be headed that way, a la Canada. Once when we were up in Ontario for my then-fiance's sister's graduation, my then-fiance (now husband) became ill with a respiratory ailment. It took days DAYS to see someone who would do something about it...going to walk-in clinics only to be told that there was no one on staff that day that could write a prescription. Going to his regular doctor's office and seeing it dark during regular office hours, but seeing the receptionist in there and banging on the door until she let us in (and her saying the doctor wasn't seeing patients today and told her to turn off the lights and lock the door). This went on for four days to the point that my now-husband almost had to go to the hospital (with even the possibility of worse care) until I played the rude American card and said we weren't leaving without a prescription. I hope that's not what we will end up with, but I can't even say I'm cautiously optimistic.

Kate Collins said...

That used to be me, Mark. It felt like a weight lifted after I had a chat with that doctor. Try it next time and see how empowering it is.

Kate Collins said...

That's a great idea, to follow up with a letter. Thanks.

Kate Collins said...

That's a true horror story, Susan. The only way that will not happen here is if people leave those kinds of establishments and find the little sole practitioners who need business. Money talks.

Karen in Ohio said...

Kate, bully for you, for sticking up for yourself.

This is not the "medical profession", per se. This is an individual office that is very poorly managed. I've had doctors like this, and I've fired them and found doctors whose offices are better run. I absolutely refuse to spend half my day waiting for someone, anyone. My first ob-gyn, a man I adored, was incapable of being on time. In the 70's I spent as long as six hours sitting in his office while he did God knows what.

If you can't change the professional who is inefficient, you can at least ask for the first appointment of the day, or the first one after lunch. That helps, most times.

Or, you can always fire them.

Leann Sweeney said...

Kate as you know, I have had to deal with plenty of doctors. I have waited for long periods, I have had prescriptions written incorrectly, I have been denied medication that I need because of insurance issues and more. I fight. A lot. But one event still sticks in my mind. I had many GI appointments after my gall bladder surgery that went oh-so-wrong. I paid the bill by putting my credit card number on the bill and mailed it in. (It was substantial). Two months later I get a collection notice for that bill and written across the bill (in someone's handwriting) was "credit card declined." I had been using that credit card for everything for those two months so something was wrong. I called the office, was treated very brusquely and gave the same number. It went through. But I followed up with a very angry letter to the doctor. THE DOCTOR, not the staff. The doctor called apologized, told me I should have been called when the card was declined, it should have never been never turned over to collection and that someone (she never named that "someone") had obviously keyed in the wrong number. A simple polite phone call could have stopped all this. Did it affect my credit rating? You bet. Had to fight that fight, too. So now you have my own rant AND please write a letter. We are writers. It's what we do best! :-)

Kate Collins said...

I actually tried asking for an early appointment and got the second one of the day -- and waited an hour! It's inexcusable. They are so fired. LOL

Kate Collins said...

You're right, Leann. I need to write a letter. When it's in print, it means more. I'm so sorry you had to go through all that. You'd think it would be common sense to make a simple phone call, wouldn't you? Shame on them.

Diane said...

Find yourself a good Ophthalmologist not a big place. I just had cataract surgery almost 3 weeks ago and my Dr can't apologize enough for making me wait in the chair for her to come in. She has another Dr in with her. He is an optometrist, the one I will see the end of the month to get the prescription for new glasses. So far I have seen her, ophthalmologist, 5 times...By the way. I don't need glasses for distance in that eye anymore.. Reading yes but I am seeing with the other eye to read so no glasses for now. After wearing them for over 60 years. I do have a cataract in the other eye but will get it done this Summer or Fall. These Big places are all about money and getting as many people in as they can in, so they are told to allow only a set amount of time for each appointment and if they go long, so what, the people are just waiting..

My son sat on the table at the place they go to waiting for the Dr. He could hear them talking outside and the Dr was talking about dust and he decided to dust before he went in to see my son who had been waiting for half an hour. Needless to say, my son had a few choice words for him, before he walked out..My son can be very loud and I'm sure the whole building heard him. Son and family don't see that dr anymore.

Sue said...

I had a detached retina and was forced to go to a specialist and had many surgeries---with not good results. But every time I went to see him the waiting room was full and it was an all day process to see him for just a few minutes. I would have switched to another doctor but he was the only specialist of that type in this area. I think his office just made all the appointments for one or two times during the day. Plus he obviously was seeing too many patients to give any of us the proper attention. Later I had to travel much further and stay overnight to see another specialist to try to fix his mess---they actually had me seeing the doctor BEFORE my scheduled appointment by a few minutes. I honestly believe that the first specialist was just a greedy doctor seeing to many patients for the many billings he could generate.

Aurian said...

That is horrible. I am glad you gave him a piece of your mind. When I make an appointment, you get 5 minutes. You are supposed to only talk about one problem a time. So when I tell the assistant, I need 15 minutes at least, she can't do it. My doctor always takes all the time we need, but that has the result that the waiting period grows enormously.

Velvet625 said...

Sadly all I can think of is our recent visit to H & R Block where our new tax preparer wanted to have a friendly visit with us. I just wanted our taxes done and out of there. I'm thinking we did not come here to get to know you and she was miserable fighting a cold I'm sure she just wanted her day to end. But I went with it and finally after an hour we were done and out the door. Of course I totally understood when H & R Block called with their survey. Did your tax preparer make an effort to get to know you? OMG what else are they forcing these people to do? Well thats the last time I sit still for it and she will still get a 5 from me. Now to H & R to tell them how I feel :D

Kate Collins said...

Do it! All of us need to be that squeaky wheel sometimes.

Kate Collins said...

Another flawed system. You have to wonder what they're thinking. 5 minutes? Ridiculous.

Kate Collins said...

So what? They're just waiting -- is the worst attitude a doctor's office could have. Good for your son, Diane.

Kate Collins said...

That's usually the case, Sue, when they book appointments too close together. Greed wins out over patient comfort. That's when it's time to find another doctor.

Rachelle21 said...

We do tax returns and do not require anyone to wait unless everyone comes at once to pick up or someone shows up without an appointment. You will be asked if a bank name changed or something looks missing from the year before.

I must say that the VA has a sign that says let them know if you have been waiting more than X minutes. We were actually early for an appointment in Buffalo (155 miles from home - we had stayed in a motel). They actually took us in early!

My friend was scheduled for 9am to come in for same day surgery. She was not operated on until two hours later. I wound up not reading but just sitting with her.
It would have been nice if they had tvs by the beds to watch. They are building a new hospital and hope the rooms will not be so cold!

Anonymous said...

Kate, I’m assuming you’re clinic is in Valpo. I live in Fort Wayne and last November I took an 85 yr. old friend to a laser clinic to have cataract surgery in one eye. The actual procedure for this took only 10 minutes. This clinic was recommended by her eye doctor. What we thought would be a ½ hour appt. turned into over a three+ hour disaster. There were about 50 elderly people in the waiting room. When we arrived we were told to take a seat and would be called when it was time to fill out the form. She was told she’d be next. One half hour later she was called to get the form to fill out. Every single doctor’s office I’ve ever been in gave you the form to fill out immediately when you signed in. I should have known at that time this was a strange place.

After another long wait, my friend was called for the eye exam. She was the 6th person in line, seated in a back hallway on a hard chair. That wait was about an hour. Then she had the eye exam. Then back to the waiting room. After another hour she was called to wait in another hallway where there were 5 people ahead of her (again only hard chairs were available to sit on). Her blood pressure was taken. She had the laser procedure done after waiting about another hour in that hallway.

Many, many, many people were complaining about the wait. Several people had a total time of over 4 hours. One lady in her nineties was so distressed she kept loudly complaining about the ringing in her ears. This was very unusual according to her daughter.

I first talked with the receptionist and asked why people weren’t advised of the long wait. She told me everyone was told when they got the confirmation call regarding their appt. I asked most everyone in the waiting room if their confirmation call mentioned this, and it hadn’t. I then told that to the receptionist and asked to speak with the manager. He told me it was the referring doctors’ responsibility to advise their patient that the procedures would take over three hours. He said it should be compared to an ‘out patient hospital’ stay. He said it was so long because of the multiple procedures. Huh? The only procedures were the eye exam (10 minutes), blood pressure (1 minute), and the actual laser surgery (10 minutes).

Why do the patients have to wait so long in the hallways on hard chairs instead of in the waiting room where they can visit and be more comfortable? It’s because they don’t want the waiting room to look any more crowded than it already does. You wouldn’t believe how it looked to have these seniors shuffled around like they were in a nursing home. Just awful!

Later, I called some doctors I know who performed such surgeries and asked how they handled the appointments. They break it down into two appts. The first for the eye exam is scheduled for ½ hour. The second appt. for the laser surgery is scheduled another ½ hr. In no way, shape, or form, is there any lengthy wait like there is at the clinic.

My friend had an appt. with her optometrist a couple days later and said the clinic manager stated it was the eye doctor’s responsibility to let the patient know it took 3+ hours. Her optometrist was very upset and said no one in their office had any idea that it took so long!! In fact the optometrist said no one in their office would recommend this clinic ever again.

When I talked with my ophthalmologist about it, he said that eye doctors (optometrists who cannot perform this surgery) are given a 20% kick back if the refer their patients to this clinic!! AND, there’s the crux of it all, it’s all about money!!!

It behooves the patient to call several doctor’s offices who do this procedure (in our community there are several) to find out the timing of the appointments and pick the one the best suits their needs. In fact, I’d stay away from any place called a ‘clinic’, especially those with out of town headquarters.