Do you think getting healthcare is FRUSTRATING?

claire_de_lunaApril 10, 2006

OMG. So I'm still coughing after the first round of antibiotics. Yes, they helped, but I felt like two to four more days worth might have kicked me over to the healthy side. My husband calls the Dr.'s office for me, and is told by the nurse (whom I think is passive aggressive anyway) they can't do anything until they see me again. Of course by the time I get that news, it's late in the afternoon and I can't get an appointment anyway. I give up, because it's a Friday, and think if I'm still feeling bad I'll call and make an appointment on Monday. I call Monday (finally) at 4:30 p.m., and am told I can't have an appointment until Wednesday. If I wait until tommorrow morning to call, I can get a stand-in appointment for that day. Never mind that if I need antibiotics (still) to clear this thing up, it's now harder to get well because I've stopped taking them.

How and WHEN did getting a simple Dr.'s appointment get so complicated? I feel like I have to jump through Hoops because no one is flexible (or concerned) enough to just make the *amn appointment. If I'd gotten better the FIRST time I was there, I wouldn't be calling back.

To top it off, I have an appointment with my Dr. next week, that I made three months ago for a physical. I'm very tempted to cancel, because they are making it so hard on me right now when all I'm trying to do is get well. I've been coughing for 4 weeks and I'm Tired. Sucking the equivalent of an entire package of Fisherman's Friend a day is nauseating. What's UP with that?

Three office calls in five weeks is Entirely Too Much...

Forgive me. I need to vent because I'm sick of this. Am I the only one who has been marooned on the island of ''Make it Hard on the Patient?''

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There, there, Claire! I'm sending you virtual chicken soup! And virtual tea with honey and lemon.

Does your doctor have a sole practice, or does he have colleagues that he works with? If you're too sick to wait till Wednesday, could one of his partners (or a physician's assistant) see you sooner (tonight or tomorrow morning)? My doctor is only in the office two mornings a week, so I have to schedule routine appts at least a month in advance, but if it's an emergency, I'll take whoever is available (they all have access to your records). I'd call again tomorrow morning, and ask to be seen by someone else, or maybe at a different office, if your doctor has more than one location. If your condition is WORSE than before, tell them that.

Secondly, I guess it would be good to point out that most colds are viral, and antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections, with rare exceptions. Also, the overuse of antibiotics is creating bacteria that are resistant to the current antibiotics, so doctors will try to use them sparingly and only when indicated. If your doctor prescribed an antibiotic without waiting for lab confirmation, he probably did it mostly to placate you and to prevent bacterial complications. But congestion can linger even after the bacteria are destroyed. Are you taking a decongestant? (I'm not sure, but isn't Fisherman's Friend just cough drops?) Maybe the doctor can prescribe something more effective. On the other hand, if the congestion has settled into your chest, I don't want to worry you, but you may have developed bronchitis or even pneumonia, and a more specific antibiotic could now be prescribed; the first one (probably broad-spectrum) might not be as effective at this point. I hope you'll be able to see the doctor soon, so this can be sorted out, and you can get started on a more effective remedy.

Claire, I really hope you'll feel better soon!


    Bookmark   April 10, 2006 at 7:31PM
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Sue, thanks for the virtual chicken soup and tea with honey.

I'm really not complaining about the actual healthcare I've received from my doctor, whom I like very much. It's more about the mindless, can't budge outside the box help they employ. There is a general attitude from the nurse and reception desk that the patients are there to make their day miserable. It feels to me like none of them have ever been sick or know how much energy it takes to Pick Up the Phone to make the call in the first place. My objective is not to bother them, yet I feel that by showing up that's exactly what I've done. Customer Service? Not their job.

My doctor is the most cheerful person in the place, which is part of the reason I keep going to her. But the staff...Oh My. It happens every time I need to go in, which lately has become quite a lot since I was diagnosed with diabetes. The process is a real mash and grind.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2006 at 7:54PM
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Claire, I was once very ill and was misdiagnosed and told to go to a psychiatrist when I had a serious hyperthyroid condition. Once I saw the right doc I was fine in 2 weeks.

Since then I have ZERO patience (sorry for screaming) with doctors who make you wait for hours or don't see you or whose offices do not run in a welcoming manner.

I find doctors who run sane practices and there are a great many good ones. I get asthmatic bronchitis and can get as sick as you are describing with coughing that cannot be stopped. I have my internist's home phone number. I've only called once in 20 years but he knows that if I ever call it's because I am seriously ill.

Perhaps a friend has a doc who runs a more responsive office. I just think life is too short and the possibility for an illness to worsen isn't worth the risk.

Meanwhile ((((hug)))) and feel better. Sounds like they mightneed to change your medicine.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2006 at 8:04PM
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Claire, if you're seeing a definite pattern of indifference or inflexibility on the part of the staff (not just now, but all the time), maybe it's time to say something about it to the doctor (who probably has no idea of what's happening out at the reception desk). Or, if it's a large office, there might be an office manager you could complain to. They may be busy, but there's no excuse for such a negative attitude.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2006 at 8:22PM
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Jane, Thank You! I don't think the doctor even knows the general feeling that I pick up on around the office. I agree that it might be an option to change, except that it took me years to find a doctor that I really liked. At this point I'm so reluctance to make a move.

And Sue, yes my husband and I discussed that same scenario this evening. He's going with me to my appointment to discuss it with the office manager. (I'm just too pooped.) I think the ''staff'' is overzealous in their ''protection'' of their boss. This is probably a group of the age that never heard ''the customer is always right'' or ''the patient is usually sick!''

Meanwhile, DH (who is insistent that I see the doc) has picked up my cough, but doesn't thnk he's sick enough to need to go, all the while coughing *around* me... Sigh.

I feel surrounded by everyone else's agendas, while sitting alone on my little island. Tomorrow is another day.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2006 at 8:50PM
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I too would speak to the doctor about it - he probably has no idea. This is his business and livelihood and if you are feeling this way other patients probably are too and some of them may be taking their business elsewhere. I can't imagine that if he is a good guy that he would not want to make improvements.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2006 at 10:00PM
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I too think it's a good idea to say something.

And you're not alone. I feel exactly the same way about my sons' pediatrician's office. They are just way too big and too busy a practice. Once I finally see the doctors, I like them just fine. But it's the office, and their policies that make me crazy.

They actually close for lunch. I have never heard of this, especially with a big practice. You have to call with general questions during their call hour. If I heaven forbid make a call after the call hour, I get attitude from the nurse. In addition, I am made to wait a long time even though I am prompt with our appointments. It's not easy trying to keep an 18 month old boy entertained while waiting for the dr.

My choices are far and few btwn, so I haven't made the switch. I go kind of far as it is, so I would just have to go that much further to get someone else. I figured in the end, the Dr's themselves are who matters, but my patience is wearing thin.

I hope you feel better soon. My husband had what it sounds like you've got. His co workers had it too. He ended up on antibiotics and they even gave him a nebulizer.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 9:46AM
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CdL, my family had that cough last Aug/Sept. Took two rounds of antibiotics to knock it out. I hadn't been that sick in years.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 11:23AM
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Claire, have you seen the doctor yet? How are you feeling today? Feel better soon!


    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 11:30AM
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Thanks, gibby, lila, awm and sue. I just kind of gave up after having so much trouble getting in. My cough is *better*, meaning it's lessening somewhat, although I'm still coughing. The infection seems to be gone, even the cough isn't. I have a physical scheduled for next week and will address it with the doctor then.

I am taking my husband with me to talk to the office manager. He has had good luck in dealing with them in the past, when they were being frustrating on a billing matter. I'm hoping his persistance will help, even though I don't expect much to change.

I apprecicate your concern.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 12:15PM
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claire, I agree w/mtnester...but don't bother talking to anyone in admin (i.e. the office manager), go to the *doctor*. I've had much better luck working that way. Sometimes office staff remind me of Lily Tomlin's Ernestine -- "we are omnipotent"...

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 12:29PM
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This thread is dead, but I wanted to come back and update you on my ''progress''. I finally ended up using an appointment made for a physical three months hence, to get into my doctor's office so I could deal with my first issue, bacterial infection and coughing. I'm on the mend, hallelujah, six weeks later.

My follow-up appointment was today, and I broached the subject with my doctor re: her nurse and appointment staff. Basically, I told her I felt I didn't have an advocate that was working on my behalf when I called her office trying to get in to see her. She asked if I would speak to the office manager, which I did. I also took in a page of my journal, detailing the facts (with very subjective opinions on the Nazi nurse!) She liked my journal page and asked if she could copy and distribute it for her next staff meeting. I ended it with: ''I've been marooned on the island of Make It Hard on the Patient. I really like my doctor, but her staff is making it extremely difficult to get health care. They should have to become a patient (treated by themselves) to get some clarity on how poorly they treat the people who need to come in here.'' She has had trouble getting most of the staff to think outside the box and I appreciated that she listened. I also have her personal number to call now if I need to get an appointment and can't. Whew. Apparently, I'm not the only one having trouble with the nurse! Anyway, they are making changes, and I hope the next attempt will be a better one for me. I got the impression she was really glad I brought in documentation since it gave her something concrete to deal with.

One thing she told me about that I loved...she's a big fan of ''Who Moved My Cheese?'' She told me a story of giving that book to the office staff for Christmas, and tucking their Christmas bonus into the back of the book with a note that asked who found it to keep it to themselves. It's now April, and over half haven't found their Christmas bonus! Very interesting, wouldn't you say? I told her I found a cheese candle I put on a marble cheese plate and glass cover, that my husband used at his office as a monthly ''reward'' for anyone to keep on their desk who was thinking outside the box. Yes, it's kind of ''cheesy'' but a fun reminder for those who get to keep it temporarily. I think she's borrowing the idea!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 6:02PM
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No advice on the dr. situation, but ask about Pertussis/Whooping cough. I had it last year and there has been a recent breakout of it, esp. among adults whose vaccination has worn off. One of the symptoms is the cough that just doesn't go away. Mine only went away after four rounds of antibiotics. Another symptom is spasm-like coughs - you cough and cough and cough in spurts and just can't seem to stop. And the signature "whoop" as you try to breathe in air in between spasms. Real fun. I was up and around during the whole thing though (at least 6 weeks) - it's more scary than dangerous.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 7:17PM
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Wow, snookums, that sounds BAD!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 7:57PM
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I'm glad you're starting to feel better. I've found that I get MUCH better service when I deal with specialists vs. a primary care physician when I have any kind of respiratory issue. My Ear Nose Throat doctor will make time to see me quickly, prescribe long enough doses to knock out the problem, and is available for follow-up visits. My ob-gyn also will take me very quickly if I'm having any kind of problem, and never keeps me waiting. I still need to find a reliable internist.

That's great that you raised the issue and spoke to the manager. I hope it works.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 2:40PM
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Pertussis is FAR more common in the general population than most folk realize--and adults often don't "Whoop." (Babies whoop because their little airways are proportionally smaller than ours...)

I'm glad your doc's office manager is taking all of this seriously. I just switched endocrinologists because of office staff issues. I went from a practice 10 minutes from my home to one 45 minutes away--because I COULD NOT get through. The endo group I ditched din't seem to mind that I bailed...I guess they have more than enough patients.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2006 at 12:37PM
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One more thing to add about Pertussis - it's bacterial so a throat swab can be tested for it.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2006 at 1:02PM
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So claire, hamptonmeadow's thread is making me nervous--did I kill this thread before you brought it back? Did I say something that upset people with my Lily Tomlin comment?

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 11:19AM
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claire_de_luna flyleft, if anyone killed the thread I think it was me! (Since I started it, I guess it's ok for it to die.) You don't have any reason to feel insecure!

I am feeling better now. I think it's probably just boring to hear someone complain, which I did, and now I'm done!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2006 at 11:43AM
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Oh good! Phew! I posted on 4/13 and you didn't reply for a LONG time, and then when you did you started with "well this thread is dead" and I thought OH my gosh, what did I say???

I have to say that that story about putting the year's bonus in the back of a book still rubs me the wrong in "the only way you'll get your bonus for a year's work is if you read this entire book, otherwise you don't deserve it"...? You don't mess around like that with people's year-end bonuses. Maybe an extra $50 or something, but not the entire bonus. That could *really* backfire. Even if I were one of the folks who read to the end, I'd be pissed. I have serious problems with obfuscatory medical office people, but still I can't see how that could do anything but create or confirm feelings of resentment and unappreciation...but hey. It's not my practice...

I do hope things look up there for you in the future, though. and I hope your cough has disappeared or is abating fast.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2006 at 1:40AM
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Hey fly, you didn't say anything! I apologize. I didn't respond because I was just feeling worn out. Right now, I'd just like to get some of my energy back, and feel more like my old self. At least the cough is gone!

That story was something else, wasn't it? I have to believe that the bonus is going to ''come up'' at some point (a meeting perhaps?) otherwise what would the point be? They will have to balance their books before the end of the year. (And, who knows how much the bonus was.) The entire premise of "Who Moved My Cheese?" is that sometimes you have to go look for new cheese, in a difference place than you're used to finding it. Thinking outside the box is an exercise in learning. I'm certain they will all learn something from it. If these people were normal, caring individuals it might concern me, but the fact that they aren't makes me truly not give a rip. Whether it seems like a passive aggressive approach to a bonus, to a passive aggressive staff, it's their dysfunctional world...

    Bookmark   May 5, 2006 at 12:29PM
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Good for you Claire! The way you brought up your dissatisfaction, and the fact that it was addressed. You've really done your doctor a positive service, and I expect you'll get much better service from now on because of it.

FWIW, Fly, that particular book only takes about 2 hours to read cover to cover, and it's one of my personal favorites. There's a quote in there that really helps me -- I still use it sometimes when I need to make a decision on something hard:

"What would I do if I weren't scared?"

That one little quote helped me decide to open up my own business, then later, to raise my rates. It's helped me make difficult personnel decisions, and to confront certain people even though I'm very conflict-averse. Love that book --

    Bookmark   May 5, 2006 at 1:50PM
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Hey, Sweeby, Thanks! I don't know if I'll get better service, but at least I know who to call.

Interesting, isn't it, how inspiring that little cheese book is? Although I think you might be the real inspiration, considering what you've managed because of it!

I also wanted to say that when the office manager was telling me that story, her attitude was not "the only way you'll get your bonus for a year's work is if you read this entire book, otherwise you don't deserve it"...? I had more of an impression that she was a very practical, pragmatic person, using her own ''out of the cheese box'' methods. Whether or not it's illuminating will remain to be seen!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2006 at 2:26PM
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Yep, it's their thing...there are dynamics in there that we can never know nor need worry about. As long as you're getting better care. Just since you mentioned it, it seemed rather dysfunctional from the outside...

I've heard good things about the book, to be sure. I like that line, btw, sweeby. I will apply it to my soon-to-be-Kerdi shower and complete DIY bathroom tiling experience...

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 1:51PM
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Flyleft, How's your bathroom coming along? I haven't been over in Bathrooms lately so I haven't kept up...

    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 6:32AM
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mahatmacat1's coming in fits and starts, I guess is the best way to describe it. It's almost framed, the subfloor's going in, the plumbers had to quit (health problems), the electrician is on hold, I can't find a tile person, but I have an HVAC lined up.


But the upside is that I keep changing my tile design and I like it really best right now. Just because of some books I saw on Friday and a magazine picture last night waiting in line at Lowe's! So it keeps chugging along up that big mountainside, grunting "I think I can, I think I can..."

    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 11:54AM
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Ouch! Well the good thing is that you like your tile design now; that's where it always looks like the money is. I'm keeping good thoughts for you, and hoping that someday you'll be able to show us how it all turned out (including your kitchen)!

I'm considering being the GC for our small bathroom remodel, so I'm interested in your progress and how it all goes for you. Please keep me posted, because I'll be wanting to know if you'd do it again once it's done. I also have to believe you'll probably find a better plumber when the timing is right...and tile guy too!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 8:07PM
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claire, I can tell you that it's been HARD being our own GC, because at least in our area, there's a construction boom, and a lot of people have gone to N.O. for the ongoing work there, so it's almost impossible to get someone if all you have is a small one-time job, unless you're willing to pay extortionist prices that I think were really "don't want the job" bids, iykwim.

Maybe your area won't be so bad. Ours is murder. The city permits woman told me, when we finally went in to get a permit to do our own plumbing (argh), that her brother built a whole house with himself as GC, and couldn't get anyone to return his calls. He said he'd never do it again--the construction industry is set up, and somewhat understandably so, so that the contractors get all the good subs and the subs who can't get ongoing gigs are the only ones available to us poor retail folk. But even the contractors I tried to get to work with us were not interested in "merely" a Master Bedroom and bath remodel; folks are evidently using their home equity to do complete gut remodels or huge additions, and a within-the-footprint remodel where many of the fixtures have already been purchased (they can't make their profit there) is just not attractive.

A tile guy, and not an experienced long-time tile guy at that, told me that although he'd said he could do the work in late June, it now had to be moved to August because a construction company he works for has asked him to work starting in late June through July. He needs to keep them as a client, so he has to push the one-off folks off til later, if they're willing to wait. I understand this completely from his point of view, but it's still a pain to me.

Not to discourage you or anything...

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 1:05AM
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Thanks flyleft for reminding me why we hired a GC to do our kitchen! Knowing how hard that was, even with him to smooth the waters and keep things plugging along, I'm sure I don't want to stress myself out even more. My husband thinks we can do this, but then he's not the one who would be home every day answering questions and breathing whatever. I'm heeding your warning!

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 11:22AM
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The DIY part isn't hard, it's just strenuous fun; it's the hiring nonexistent subs part that's hard.

Ivette just did a Master bathroom with a GC and it was done in 4 days. I want to know how she got someone to do such a small job, within the same footprint! Well, her husband's in the business, though, isn't he...

    Bookmark   May 10, 2006 at 2:59PM
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