Monday, October 06, 2008

That’s not what I was upset about

Dear Family Practice Clinic that values my business according to the sign on the wall,

I am writing to let you know I spent a little time in your waiting room today, and perhaps had a sour look on my face, which could probably have been attributed to many things --- but to clarify:

I was not upset about the fact that although your voice mail says your office opens at 8am, that no-one actually answered your phone until 8:17am. I know this to be true because I called every 30 seconds starting at 7:59am. Thank goodness for the redial button.

I was not upset about the fact that once your automated system *finally* picked up my call, it was another ten minutes before I got to talk to a real, live person.

I was not upset about the warning that the wait for a same-day-work-in appointment might be long. I worked for three years in a Family Practice clinic, and I understand what Monday mornings can be like. In fact, considering there was no blood, chest pain, or eye injury involved, I was pretty impressed that you were even willing to give us a same-day appointment at all.

No, really, I wasn’t upset about the first hour we sat in your waiting room because hey, you warned us.

I wasn’t upset about the fact that there were no restrooms attached to your waiting room. I found it odd, but I wasn’t upset about it.

I was perhaps a teensy bit upset about the second hour we sat in your waiting room, especially when I was told that our name had been called half an hour earlier, apparently when we were across the lobby in the bathroom, especially considering we TOLD the receptionist where we were going and she obviously forgot to tell the nurse so our file folder went back to the back of the line.


No, what upset me was the fact that for the entire two hours we were sitting in your waiting room, you left the television turned to a PBS documentary about the life cycle of the poisonous American mushroom, and told us it couldn’t be changed.


Do you really think my nine-year old daughter gives a rat’s ass about mushrooms? Don’t you think it might have been even remotely helpful to have put the television on Disney or Nickelodeon or for goodness’ sake, even the Today Show would have been more interesting. And for a large portion of that time we were the only people *in* the waiting room, so it's not like we would have offended any mushroom-lovers out there.


For real???

By the time we were finally put back in an exam room, I wasn’t sure if we should ask you to treat Kendrie’s cough, whatever illness she probably picked up after (no lie) ROLLING AROUND ON THE FLOOR OF YOUR WAITING ROOM IN SHEER BOREDOM, or the wound on the back of my head, from where I had been hitting it against the wall for the last half hour.



PS. For the record, I am normally pretty good about bringing along Gameboys or ipods or for goodness sake, even something as old fashioned as a !!BOOK!! for the kids to read in a waiting room. Two and a half years of pediatric chemo appointments taught me the value of being prepared. This day, however, I honestly didn't expect a same day appointment and was out running errands when the clinic asked if we could get there in 30 minutes (apparently, it was important that we rush there, in order to sit and wait for two hours) and so I dashed by the school and picked Kendrie up without having ANYTHING for her to do. I even offered to read her the "Humor in Uniform" jokes out of the waiting room copies of Readers Digest, I was that freaking desperate.


Anonymous said...

Having 4 kids and logging many hours in understaffed and overused pediatricians offices and urgent cares, the single best purchases I have ever made were Nintendo DS's for each and a portable DVD player. I could care less how many people roll their eyes about my "wired" kids. It brought peace and sanity to hours long waits. The DVD player was worth its weight in gold for the week my son spent inpaitient in the PICU for an RSV triggered asthma crisis. Can you believe a childrens PICU would carry NO kids channels at all, not even PBS???

For a Girl Scout community service project we want to donate 2 or 3 of these to the hospital. These poor kids deserve some Spongebob to brighten their day.

René S said...

This reminds me of my very first pediatricain's appt. ever. After my first child was born, we went home on a Saturday with directions to call the ped's office on Monday. My newborn son had a slight case of jaundice, so they wanted to see us that day. They asked if we could be there in 30 minutes, and I said I guess we could. My mom and I killed ourselves to get dressed, pack the bazillion things needed for a 1st born child to leave the house and headed out to the office. I got there and sat in the "healthy" side of the office with big kids coughing, sneezing, noses running with my less than a week old baby. I couldn't sit in the hard chairs from the 3rd degree tear I'd had delivering my 9lb2oz son, and there was no place to nurse, so I was starting to feel a bit heavy. We sat there for 2 hours after killing ourselves to get there. By the time we saw a doctor, I was leaking and in tears. He tried to tell me to stop nursing, made us go have a blood draw on my baby, ordered "billi lights" and had the nerve to say I seemed a bit upset. He ended up being a fabulous doctor, but he was really young and clueless about new moms. We had the blood drawn, talked to the Le Leche lady about nursing and decided to ignore him, plugged in the lights and had to go back the next day to do it again! His billirubin (sp?) count was down, so we were OK to keep nursing. But, I had to go back again on Wednesday. I saw a different doctor that day (it was Thanksgiving week and the first doctor was off W/TH), and the 2nd doc freaked out about his skull and ordered a skull x-ray and CT scan. That was also the day my mom left. It was a bit traumatic!

The only upside is I learned in my first visit to NEVER go to the pediatrician's office at 10:30 on a Monday of a holiday week. In fact, I never accepted a 10:30 Monday appt. again. I also learned to make sure you see the same doc if at all possible for any given issue. I learned that sometimes a mother's instinct is better than ONE doctor's opinion and to stay true to that. We sat in the car to wait instead of the office full of sick kids after that. AND, I took a boppy pillow with me if I had to go into the office.

I'm sorry you had such a crummy wait today. I hope you avoid any additional illnesses!

AVT Coach said...

Oh My! I would say there are no excuses for that experience. I would not be going back no matter how benevolent they appear. Although they may be about 20 minutes north of you, there is a great PM clinic in Edmond that I love. They are very nice and get to you really quickly. Might be worth it since time is money too!
Sorry for your experience but I did are a great writer!
Hope your headache is gone from beating it against the wall! :)

Lea White said...

Very well stated! I always go prepared especially since all Bianca's current hospital visits involve hours of waiting and waiting and waiting. Just recently she was meant to have theatre at 1:30pm, but we were only called at around 4:30pm, so not just boredom, but absolute hunger (not only from Bianca, but me too).

Lea White

Jodi Fischer said...

It is so obvious that a lot of the people that work on the "other side of the glass window" haven't been out with us on that "waiting side" of the window. For them to put her file on the bottom of the pile after you had TOLD them where you were going--well--that is just wrong!

Pam D said...

I HATE taking my son to the doctor, because he always comes home with something worse than what he had going in. We've used the same practice since he was 9 months old, and I love his primary care doc. But I hate the waiting, and the germs, and all of that. Maybe someday, you'll get rich and famous from your fabulous blog and the book you'll write, and you can hire your own private physician!

The Running Girl said...

Uggghhhh. Sorry you had to endure that, but hope everyone is well.

Stephanie said...

Ahhh....your story reminds me of the appointment I had with the ophthalmologist. I had a 4:00 appointment on a Friday. An appointment made 3 weeks earlier. The date that I chose but the time that they chose. Since Friday was my only day off, I was busily mowing my grass on that pleasant SC July day. Walked inside to get a drink and my phone rang.

Opthalmology office: "Could you come in a bit early today?"

Me: ::looks down at sweat soaked grass covered self:: Umm, when?

Office: Now would be good.

Me: Oh. Well I have to take a shower first but I will get there as soon as I can (this is about 12:00, I would guess)

So I rush to get a shower, don't dry my hair and show up at the office looking like a drowned rat. They thank me for coming, do all the little prelim time tests like for glaucoma and such and then I sit and I wait and I wait. So I go to the receptionist desk to find out what's going on. There are SEVEN people ahead of me and it will be more than an hour wait.

Now let me add that I am supposed to pick my dog up from the groomer at 2:30 on the other side of know the side of town I live on...and it is now 1:15. I look at the receptionist and tell her I can't wait, I have other things I need to do and I will be back for my originally scheduled appointment at 4:00.

She says "Well the Dr might be gone then".

I growled at her and told her I went out of my way because THEY CALLED ME. She told me "that was so the support staff could go home early".

So I left, got my dog and came back. Still one person ahead of me. Guess what time I saw the Dr?

You guessed it....4:00. I was very passive aggressive with the Dr and was livid when I left. I ended up calling on Monday to report my complaint. He did actually call me back....and I sort of suspect someone might have gotten fired.

But come on, if you call and ask a person to come early for an appointment, that implies that you will be seen right I wrong?

Now I'm on the other side of the desk as a pediatrics resident. When I work in my clinic, I am so frustrated when I am twiddling my thumbs and I see my patients in the waiting room going through our ridiculously slow registration process. Sadly, though nothing I can do about it.

Cate said...

I did a show on this once, and a listener called in and said she sent the doctor a bill for her hourly rate that she wasted sitting in his office. The doctor paid it and she never waited in his office again.

I always schedule my appointments for the first one in the morning. I'm the person they get behind on. I know with sick kids it doesn't always work that way, but I'd have found a way to change the stupid channel.

DivaDunn said...

You know, this kind of waiting is something that I just cant understand.

I run a dental office, and we think we've failed if someone is waiting even 10 minutes. Only under extreme circumstances would someone be in our office past their appointed time.

I don't understand what is so unpredictable with doctor visits. Every single one we've had, the doctor has been in the room between 5-10 minutes. So, simple math would tell me you could schedule 6-10 patients an hour and run reasonably on time.

My pediatrician is very good about getting us back into a room close to our appointment time, but then waiting for the doctor can take 15 minutes to over an hour. WTF! I never know if we'll be out in less than an hour or there all day.

Very frustrating...Maybe someone who does the scheduling for a GP or Pediatrician can explain?

Stephanie said...

I can explain why the wait at my clinic is ridiculous. We have about a 25-50% no show rate so we always overbook by 25% so we can cover expenses. Then the ridiculous registration process that delays things is because we were having so many people change their phone numbers, lose their medicaid, change their medicaid, move etc. that we weren't getting paid for services. So now we start from scratch for every single peron that comes into the office.

The other thing that causes delays in the pediatrician's office is when the patient has a 10 minute appointment for a rash that then turns into 30 minute appointment when they also want to talk about recent behavior problems that are so severe that it would be improper to send them away without addressing it. So if I had 3 more 10 minute visits behind them, I'm now behind 3 patients.

No perfect answer.

Anonymous said...

Being the pediatric nurse I am, I could NOT let this one go. I also worked in a family practice office for about 5 years prior to working in pediatrics. All I could think while reading this post was "OMG, are you kidding". I have worked in an office where there was ALWAYS a long wait, but our "kids" didn't wait. Adults CAN wait, but kids? That was just wrong. If I were you I would have carbon copied this note and mailed it to their office manager. Surely they know they have problems, but this is ridiculous. One of the many reasons I left family practice was b/c of the long wait. It was not uncommon for our adult patients to wait 3 hrs and I thought it was very inconsiderate of the physician I worked for to make people wait that long. Like their time isn't as important as yours. My dad used to see this same doctor I worked for and wanted to send him a bill for his hourly wage (which at the time was about $25/hr) for the 3 hours he wasted waiting. Truthfully, these were "scheduled appts". these people had and my dad had. They still waited with an appt. for sometimes 3 hrs. It isn't fair. You should speak up!!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Kristie. I forgot to write my name on the comment about being a ped. nurse and waiting 3 hrs. in a family practice office. I was a tyrant!!
Wendy in Winder, GA

Anonymous said...

I'd have had my kid sing "I am Henery the Eigth I am" or "It's A Small World After All" over and over and over again. And then maybe I'd have joine in. I am betting the TV station would have changed fast, lol.


Anonymous said...

I'd have had my kid sing "I am Henry the Eighth I am" or "It's A Small World After All" over and over and over again. And then maybe I'd have joined in. I am betting the TV station would have changed fast, lol.


Amy said...

Maybe if they'd had some samples of those 'shrooms for you to try, the wait wouldn't have been so bad.

Ditto to the pp who said send them a copy of your post!

AVT Coach said...

I have something for you at my place!!