Friday, March 02, 2007

Doctors: how to annoy your new patient

First Visit
When she arrives in the office, make sure the reception desk staff ignores her completely for one to two minutes while they finish up whatever tasks they are doing.

When she gives her name -- and hands over her insurance card -- make sure the receptionist can't find her appointment. If the patient then corrects the spelling of her last name and points out her time slot to the receptionist, instruct the receptionist to say nothing more than, "Oh."

Accept only the office's new patient information forms from the patient. Require a blank stare in answer to all questions regarding other medical records the patient has brought with her. Make the patient ask several times what to do with the records before finally telling her to hold onto them and give them to the doctor during the appointment.

Do not call the patient in for her appointment until at least 45 minutes past her appointment time.

Kick off the appointment with the obviously-correct-nearly-all-the-time assertion that the patient is "a typical case and just needs the usual follow-up." After all, there was no need to even skim through that new patient information packet, right?

Allow the office staff to interrupt you when with a patient as much as they like. Can't find an insurance code? No problem! The patient can wait.

Insist on scheduling scan appointments and follow-up appointments separately, without consideration for the fact that the patient lives well over an hour's drive away.

Send the patient off with an incomplete lab slip for blood draws, and have office staff call her on her cell phone to tell her what other tests need to be ordered.

(Blood work was done a few days after the first appointment.)

Second Visit, about 2 weeks after the first

Once again, make sure office staff focus only on their very important phone calls, and do not acknowledge the physically-present patient with even a flicker of eye contact. The fact that they are on the phone gives them license to ignore a patient for up to a full five minutes.

Make sure that the patient waits for a minimum of 30 minutes past her appointment time, again -- consistency is key!

Make sure the financial responsibility form states that the patient will be having a test that is no longer possible because the organ to be scanned was removed a year and a half ago.

When the patient informs the tech that the release form is wholly inapplicable, make sure the technician responds, "Oh, I didn't look at your history" so that the patient knows just how thorough your practice is.

During a scan, never ever give any information to the patient regarding what you're seeing.

If the patient asks for a copy of her lab test results, ask her if you have reviewed them with her yet. If the answer is "No, but I want them for my personal records anyway," refuse to comply and state that you will give her a copy at the follow-up appointment in two weeks.

Leave the examination room while the patient is still straightening up, post-exam, so that you don't have to deal with any potentially troublesome questions.

* * *
Every single one of these things has happened to me recently with a doctor who came very, very highly recommended. I'm giving this doc one more shot -- the aforementioned follow-up meeting in two weeks. We'll see how that goes. My expectations are set very low. I just want to get my tests results and get out.

Of course, if the test results reveal anything requiring treatment, I'll be needing to deal with this doctor a lot more. But I'm going to remain optimistic and say everything's fine, in which case I won't need to go back for six months. I think I can live with that. It's a pain but less of a pain than going all the way to Houston.


Kerry Crochets said...

You know, it never ceases to amaze me how horrible bedside manner and administrative professionalism have gotten in the recent past. It's ridiculous that you, or anyone, have to deal with this.

I say even if something does show up (and it won't), see if you can get a different endo. This one doesn't inspire much confidence, and I can attest to the fact that a poor physician is dangerous.

PixelRN said...

You have to be careful these days when someone is "highly recommended."

I recently left my OB practice (who were highly recommended) for a midwife because of similar annoyances. PS. I was already 32 weeks pregnant.