Shall I begin at the beginning?
Sometime near the end of last year, in late November or early December, I made a doctor's appointment for today. I usually go in every three months or so for blood tests, and it has to be a fasting test, so I can't eat any breakfast. That being the case, I make the appointment for the earliest available time slot. That means I have to get myself and Bird up and out much earlier than we're used to, and also bringing breakfast along for Bird because there's no reason he can't eat, and I'd rather slather myself in bacon grease and crawl nekkid through an Anaconda pit than sit for one minute in a doctor's office with a tired, hungry five-year-old, kid.
Today, I scored some baby sitting from Mum, who spent last night. She offered to watch him so I could chat with my doc without distraction, since I have some service and medication issues I want to go over. Sweet! I loathe having to get Bird up early, especially when the night before he was up late getting a breathing treatment for his asthma.
So last year I made this appointment and wrote it ever so carefully on two calendars. That's right, two. Each time I wrote it down, I looked carefully at the card to be sure I had the correct date and time, even though I had made the appointment only a short time earlier that day. Because I have OCD and can be a little anal that way. So I checked carefully several times. Can you see where this is going?
I pried my sorry ass out of bed six hours after I got to sleep last night, made a
At the doc's office, there was plenty of parking - a fringe benefit of early appointments, along with knowing there's no one sick in the waiting room. They all come in a little later. The people in early are like me, regulars who are in for maintenance stuff.
I know the drill by heart, by now - walk in, sign in, hand over the insurance card, sit down and wait. Get called up to retrieve the insurance card, pay the co-pay, sign the paper to show that the address and other info is correct, promise my firstborn if the bill doesn't get paid, go sit down and wait some more. Crochet or entertain Bird if he's with me.
This morning, though, there was a snag. Of course there was. It seems that, even though I was handed an appointment card all those months ago, even though I checked that card ever so carefully for date and time and wrote them both clearly on the calendar, there was no record of the appointment in their computer. Umm. OK. The lady at the desk asked if I was there for Dr. G, and I said yes.
Oh, well, hmm. Pity. She's on vacation this week. And there's no record of my appointment in the computer - not a cancellation or a re-scheduling, I wasn't in there at all. As in, the appointment never existed. The woman looked at me like I'd made a mistake. Uh, I don't think so. I know I had the right day and time.
I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and asked very politely for copies of my medical records because I needed to be finished with their office. This was really enough. Really, really enough.
I went for two weeks without insulin in December because that office wouldn't return my calls or my pharmacist's calls. Two weeks. Insulin. Important.
Sometimes they don't return calls for days. I stopped leaving messages with them because I often wouldn't get a return phone call for a week or longer, and sometimes not at all. They are supposed to call me when labs are in, but I often go a month or longer without knowing unless I call them.
Mum has been telling me to find a new doctor for a while, now. I don't want to. I like Dr. G, and equally important, I know her. If you've read any of the Variety Plate, you know how important that is. Going to a new doctor, going through all the crap, the medical history, the questions...ugh.
I was then informed that I would have to sign a release for my own records, since they don't keep them there and would have to get copies from record-keeping. I asked her to make sure Dr. G knew what had happened - yeah, right, I'll hold my breath. She took my phone number and assured me that she'd let the doc know. Again, holding my breath.
It's not her fault her staff are inept, careless, apathetic, or whatever the hell is wrong with them that they can't manage the simplest tasks. I do understand that they're busy, and they're getting busier, but I don't think it's too much to ask that they do what they say they'll do in a timely fashion. Hello? Customer service? Foreign concept, these days.
If they are too bloody busy, too overwhelmed, to follow through with patient care, they need to simply say so. They need to learn to say "no" when someone new asks for an appointment and they know they're full, booked through the next six months. Learn to say "we have a standard of care that we need to adhere to, and adding to our patient load will be detrimental to our service, so we suggest..."
Sigh. If I hold my breath any more, I'll be the nicest shade of blue...