Sunday 18 October 2015

Score Zero for the Non-Helping Office Help

No one is a generalist in the doctors' front offices anymore. Everyone has a specialty. There are receptionists who answer the phones after the patient is routed through several menus of choices, insurance mediators, plant maintenance engineers, environmental statisticians, medical records compliance officers, and those-who-ought-to-be-eaten-by-Baba-Yaga.

     I fell the other day. This is not unusual for me these days. The balance problems that I have due to some brain damage acquired in a motor vehicle accident means that every so often despite my best efforts otherwise, I will fall.

     This time, I hurt my arm. Doc sends me for x-rays on Wednesday. I find out on Thursday that I have a broken ulna up at the head where it slides into the elbow. Not the worse fracture certainly, especially considering that there is no displacement. I am managing the pain with over the counter pills taken according to directions.

     Doc wants me to see an orthopedist, a receptionist that I do not know from his office tells me. Okay. I will not see the local butcher, I tell her. Anyone else anywhere else but that one. She says she will pass it on to the referral specialist.

     She doesn't. Actually, she doesn't advise the referral specialist that I need a referral at all. Thursday passes in a haze of little blue pills and a little blue pillow that I keep stuffed under my arm.

     Friday mid-morning arrives. I stop in at the appointment desk to pick up a hard copy of the radiology report. I ask about my referral. I am directed to the referral specialist's window.

     I don't know this referral specialist. She doesn't know that I need a referral, hasn't heard anything about my "broken elbow"-- the office help has all referred to my broken ulna this way and I don't correct them-- and in fact has not received any message from the receptionist that I need a referral to a bone doc. I give her my details and leave.

     I do not hear from her. It is now Friday at five minutes after four. I call the doctor's office. The new receptionist answers. "All of our referral specialists have left. They are not the usual ones," she tells me as some sort of excuse. She cannot tell me if any work has been done on my referral, if an appointment has been made. Nothing. "Call back on Monday," she suggests. "You won't get to see a bone doctor this weekend anyway. You can see one anytime." She hangs up.

     This is not satisfactory. I call back and firmly insist upon speaking with a nurse. The nurse talks with me, answers my medical questions-- I have never broken or even sprained an arm before-- and then she calls my doctor.

     My doctor calls me back. He will be handling the referral himself on Monday.

sapphoq reviews says:
To all office workers in physicians' offices everywhere, I have some tips for you:

1.  Please do not make light of any patient's concern or pain by telling them that they can see a specialist "anytime" or that they will not be getting to see a specialist this weekend anyway.
My referral should have been taken care of on Thursday. I should have been provided with an appointment with a specialist-- or at the very least, a phone number of the office of a specialist-- on Thursday or at the very latest on Friday morning. The appointment itself would not have had to occur on Friday morning. I was not asking for a miracle here. I was expecting the same consideration that you would give your own older relative with a broken body part.

2.  Please do not make excuses for why something was not done in a timely fashion.
Telling me that the referral specialists "are not the usual ones" leaves me to wonder if they are imports from a distant planet. Not helpful.
I may be brain damaged but I am not brain dead. I know that the initial problem may have started when you did not hand my referral to the referral specialist.
I was not proficient at carrying out my own job responsibilities for a number of years myself. I know what slacking off at the job looks like. It looks like you.

3.  Please do not tell me that you do not know if anything was done about referring me to a specialist.
I find it unbelievable that you could not be bothered to pick up my chart-- or the electronic equivalent of my chart-- and physically look at the last page to check if there were any notes about a referral in progress.

Yes, I am on first name basis with my doctor, your employer. Yes I did tell him what transpired in his office in his absence.

It is your job to know how to do your job and to do your job. Do your job or get a different one. Do not irritate this particular irritating patient because I will not just sit back and "take it." I have a blog and I know how to use it.