Doctor’s Office Blues

We’ve all experienced it, that punched-in-the-gut feeling you get when you’ve been betrayed or when someone or some situation hurts you deeply.  It’s like a sickening cloud that moves back and forth between your head and your stomach and you can’t escape it.  One of those clouds is threatening to control me at this very moment.

I have a very close relationship with my doctor.  He’s seen me through many of life’s ups and downs, and he’s one of the sweetest, kindest men I know.  My access to his care and advice is only a phone call or an e-mail away any time of the day or night thanks to a paid membership in a concierge medical program, which I pay in addition to my health insurance.   Although the extra fee is a struggle sometimes, we all enjoy the benefits of this membership.

Conversely, my relationship with my doctor’s staff–nurses, medical assistants, office manager, etc.–and the service that I receive from them has been much less than could be expected.  Many times over the past several years, messages I have left for the doc have not been delivered, prescriptions have not been sent to pharmacies in a timely manner, and referrals for procedures have taken longer than they should.  With my membership, I am entitled to same day and next day appointments with the doctor, if necessary, but his staff has tried to put me off many times, even when the doctor has personally told me to tell them to get me in a certain day and time.For many years, I have chosen to ignore the shortcomings of my doctor’s staff, but this past Monday I reached my breaking point after previously scheduled appointments for both my son and myself became mysteriously non-existent.  Not only did they not apologize that no appointment was in the system last week when my son arrived for his appointment or offer to work him in, but they refused to acknowledge the possibility that they could have made a mistake and were very rude.

Monday, I called to cancel my appointment for Tuesday because my work schedule had changed.  Upon being told that I had no appointment to cancel, my usual forgiving nature disappeared.  I reminded the gal of the situation with my son’s appointment, informed her that I was at that very moment staring at the appointment card that had been given to me at my previous visit, and told her that I would have been very upset if I had taken the day off for this appointment only to be turned away when I arrived.  Her only response, in a very haughty tone, “When would you like to reschedule?”

Certain that my doctor would want to know how his patients were being treated, I wrote him a lengthy e-mail describing various situations with his staff.  That evening, I received a kind letter of apology from him stating that he would deal with the situation and that this is not the way he wanted his patients to be treated.  Because I hate to complain (and am a little OCD), I read my e-mail and his response over and over hoping that I had been kind to him and accurate in describing the situation.

The punch in the gut hit the following day when during another re-reading, I happened to look up and notice that he had forwarded my e-mail to his entire staff.  My mind began to swirl and my heart dropped into my stomach.  I’m confident that he did what he thought was best at the time, but I had so hoped that he would deal with this situation in a more discreet fashion, especially since my son and mother whom I had also mentioned in my e-mail were to be in the office the following day.

As I anticipated, my mother shared with me that she was treated very coolly by the staff that day.  The medical assistant plunked down my son’s appointment cards and walked off without saying anything, and she had a difficult time getting the office manager to come to the front desk so she could make his co-pay.

I’m sick!  Just sick!  And angry!!  I don’t know what to do.  Were it not for the close relationship I have with my doctor, the decision would be an easy one–stop paying the exorbitant concierge fee and find another doctor.  I don’t want to leave the doctor.  He’s one of the best people that has ever happened to my life.  I don’t want to allow myself and my family members to be treated cruelly by the staff.  I don’t want to take their crap.  Why should I pay a fee to be treated like crap!  If I were in charge, I’d fire the entire staff.  Of course, I know he can’t do that.  Why can’t they be mature enough to take the constructive criticism and straighten up their acts?  My mind and emotions are a mess, and I don’t know what to do to stop the madness!