Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Medical Industry...

Yesterday, Allie had a dermatology appointment. She has been seeing this doctor for years and yet there is still a 6 month wait to schedule an appointment. This particular doctor is a "good one" in that he is current on his training and issues in the field and he listens to our requests concerning medicines. In short, he offers us all the choices available that he believes in and allows us to deny or accept the ones that we feel are too dangerous.

Well, after booking the appointment months ago, we showed up at 3:00 for our 3:15 appointment. There is a check-in desk downstairs and there is no telling if the wait will be brief of long. Well, today it was brief and we were upstairs at Dermatology after only a couple of minutes. So, we were still early for our 3:15 appt.

Well, we arrive upstairs and go through ANOTHER check in process. This receptionist was no friendlier than the first. In this case, I think that the medical receptionists take on a "God Complex" where they think that they are superior than the patients and relate more to the "physicians" than the patients. (They seem to be unaware that even smart people can be patients.)

Well, after a long wait in the waiting room, full of other waiting patients (some sick, obviously), a nurse comes out of the office and takes a seat in front of us. At first, I thought she was drunk because she had a sing-song voice and seemed to be slurring her words and giggling for no reason. She said a whole bunch of words that I couldn't make out, but then added, "sorry for the wait, I hope you can keep waiting" and then left us.
Allie & I looked at each other in confusion. I told Allie that apparently, the office staff thought we needed to be told that we were waiting. It wasn't as if we had a choice, I mean we already made the 40 minute trip to Concord and were sitting in the waiting room. What were we going to do, leave and come back in 6 months?

Eventually, the same nurse came and called Allie's name. She brought us to the examination room where she told us there would be more of a wait. (At least, I think that is what she said).
As she was leaving the room, she told us, "thanks for waiting. The 3:30 appointment arrived early, so we switched your appointment with her appointment. That is the reason for the delay. The doctor is running late, but thanks for waiting." At that statement, she left.

So, the doctor finally arrived, we got her prescriptions renewed and left the office. After the appointment, Allie & I talked about what happened.

Why was it OK to alter the schedule for this patient's convenience?
What is the point of scheduled appointments if they just take people first come first serve?
Why is my time not valued?

So, when we got home, I made dinner and gave some more thought to what happened. I found the manager of the department and e-mailed them explaining the situation. While waiting 30 minutes is hardly life threatening, it was a completely avoidable situation. If this other patient was early and the doctor had no opening - well, then she waits. Pushing my appointment later and keeping me waiting, so that she can get in early is nonsense.

I doubt my letter will do anything, except allow me an outlet for my frustration. But, this is just ridiculous.

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