My semi-regular rant against the medical profession. (Really long)

I’ve got a thing for which I had to go see an endocronologist. Since I sat in his waiting room for over 3 hours before I got to see him, it was hard not to notice that 99% of the 20 or so people waiting to see him were the vast majority were probably 1st generation immigrants. About 80% of them were elderly.

He told me lab tests needed to be done. He also told me I had an enlarged thyroid and I needed to come back to his office in three days to get a sonogram of it. My appointment was for 11:15. At 2:30, I asked the receptionist how much longer would my wait be. She told me that there were still 3 people ahead of me and that the person in with the technician was in the middle of a two hour proceedure. I left. Still haven’t gotten my thyroid looked at. For reasons I’ll state below, I’m beginning to doubt if I really need to.

Had the tests done at a lab and called his office after a week to get the results. “I can’t tell you your results over the phone, the doctor has to tell you,” his receptionist told me.

“OK, when can he get back to me with the results?” I asked.

“I can make an appointment for you to see him. . .” she starts.

“I already have an appointment to see him next week. I just want to know the results of my test.”

“But I already told you I can’t tell you over the phone.”

“Yes, we have established that you, the receptionist, cannot give me my results over the phone. When would be a good time for me to call to speak to the doctor or when can he call me back with the results?”

“I can make an appointment for you to see him. . .”


No, I didn’t really say the last part but, Lordy, I sure wanted to. And no, no one called to tell me my results and I sure as hell wasn’t going to spend the better part of a day sitting his waiting room just to find out.
2:15 is my appointment time and I, like an idiot who cannot learn from the past, get to his office at 2 o’clock. It is again filled to the brim with old people from another land. At 5 o’clock, I ask the receptionist how much longer would my wait be.

“There are SIX people ahead of you.” I am told.

IMO, I had been more than patient with this office. Up until this point.

“Oh no. FUCK this shit! Give me my results. Just HAND THEM TO ME!!! I have never been in such a poorly run office in my fucking life. And I never plan to be in one again!”

“OK.” the receptionist runs to the back-- I presume to get my results.

I can feel eyes burning into my back. The rest of the overstuffed waiting room is staring at me as if I were some stranger who started screaming and cursing in the doctor’s office for no reason at all. Some of these people had been waiting longer than I had but they all just sat there and. . . waited. 3, 4 maybe even 5 hours. And they all looked at me as if I was crazy.

The receptionist came back. “The doctor will see you in 2 minutes.” she tells me.

And everyone in the waiting room, even those who had been there longer than I had, said nothing. But I did.

“I don’t know why he’s going to bother. I’m never coming back here again. It would be better if you just gave me my damned results so I can go home.” She didn’t though and so I waited some more.

Now here is the part that is REALLY bad.

The results are abnormal. “But,” says the doctor, “It has nothing to do with the thing you originally came in for and I don’t see that any of the perscription drugs could have effected it. Take the tests again and come back in 4 weeks.”
I’m thinking of suing this fucker. The abnormal results have EVERYTHING to do with the thing I came in for and, not only that, one of my perscriptions DOES skewer the results. What that asshole SHOULD have told me was to retake the test without taking the fucking medication. No, I am not a medical professional. And yet, I know more than this peice of shit doctor.

Know what I think? I think that piece of shit is running a medicare/medicaid mill, that’s what I think. I’d like to report his incompetent ass. I’m already reporting him to my insurance company (who will kick a doctor off for excessive waits-- but only if a buttload of people complain). I’d like to report him to a real authority, only I don’t know who or how.

After previewing I realized that no one will believe that my diagnosis is more informed than this doctor’s unless I give more information. So-- I have an small tumor on my adrenal gland and I take duretics for my edema and high blood pressure. Both the renin activity and the aldosterone came back high.

State medical board would probably be the place to start. They’re the ones who handle licensing. If he’s part of a hospital or clinic network, rather than being a private practicioner, that’s another place to go. People sometimes suggest the AMA but they have no power over physicians - they’re more like a combination lobbying board and journal publisher.

My recommendation would be that if you don’t have a copy of your records, get one now. You’re legally entitled, though they may choose to charge you if you’re not sending it directly to another physician. You may also have to sign a release of information form. Then find another endocrinologist and give him/her a copy of those results. See what conclusion is drawn, and get a copy of his report. If that bears out what you thought was the real situation, then send copies of those when you make your complaint.

You’re entitled to your lab results. Any medical office should comply with a request for them to be mailed to you (I think the unwillingness to tell you over the phone has a medicolegal justification in that mistakes could arise either on the part of the person reading off the results or in the patient mishearing what’s said).

Aren’t you in the NYC area? There should be a bunch of endocrinologists who run a better operation than what you describe.

Oh, I have my results. You better believe he gave them to me. And he also understood that I was not coming back and how poorly I thought his office was run.

And there are plenty of endos I can go to and will. Only now I’ll really have to wait because you can’t get a first appointment with any of them in less than 6 weeks.

Thanks for the advice ferret herder. I’ll have to ask for my records later when I’m not still so boiling mad. It takes patience to deal with his staff and right now I’m not sure I wouldn’t slam the phone and go over there to strangle somebody. and it’s been two days already.

you need a new doc, and/or a buddy in the business.

Or a worry that the person on the phone is not the right patient. I had a doctor’s office call my dorm back when I was in college. 4 of us girls shared a phone. Two of us had the same first name. Guess who’s results were told to the wrong girl, who promptly broadcast them to everyone on the hall?

Or simply a desire to be controlling. I’ve had offices refuse to give me x-rays to take to my doctor without having a signed release from my doctor.

Well, they refused at first. They finally agreed just so they could get rid of me.

Which is why they can send them in the mail to the address they already have on file for the patient.

So let me get this straigth, Biggirl. Mentioning that most of this doctor’s patients are elderly, in fact mentioning it twice, is supposed to convince of how poorly run his office is? Or are you just relating how horrible your experience was, having to spend that much time in the company of those awful immigrants?

Yes, that was exactly my intent. You have figured me out.
Or, maybe I was trying to show why I think the doctor is a mill. And why no one but me complained.

Fair enough. I still don’t think, even in retrospect, that this interpretation was obvious from the OP. But if your argument is that this doctor is exploiting people who have difficulties standing up for themselves, either because of their age or because of language problems, then you might have a point. Please continue your pitting.

i thought it was obvious

I agree, I totally missed it. Thank you for clarifying. Biggirl. I was wondering what first generation immigrants - like my parents - were supposed to do!

Oh yeah, slight hijack - what does “first generation” actually mean? Because I too was born in India, even though my parents were already citizens of the US (long story hort - I was adopted). Does this mean I am also a first generation immigrant?

If you weren’t born here and immigrated, I think that may be the definition of ‘1st generation’.

Perhaps my experience is not the same as most. Where I grew up (The Bronx), 1st gen immigrants rely heavily on their children. It is very easy for them to be taken advantage of because of cultural and language barriers. Especially when dealing with authority figures, such as doctors.

I’ve seen this played out in many situations. Like sitting in a doctor’s office for 5 hours and not uttering a peep.

I just wanted to point out that 99% of 20 people cannot be first generation immigrants. 95% can be, and 100% can be.

Also, that endocrinologist is not the one you should be seeing. It’s a perfectly reasonable request to have your doctor call with results from a test. You can even sign a form giving them permission to leave a message on your voicemail (that’s what I did). You need a doctor who has learned how to operate his telephone device.

Wow, what an unprofessionally run office. I can’t imagine why the receptionist didn’t, at the very least, notify you that the doctor was dreadfully behind so that you didn’t sit there stewing for 3 hours.

My general practitioner is a wonderful doctor. She will actually sit with you, unrushed, and have long discussions about your health. However, this means that she tends to run behind schedule. For that reason, I either make appointments first thing in the morning or first thing after their lunch break. If I’m on my deathbed and have to take the first available appointment, I call first and ask if the doctor is running on schedule. There’s nothing that makes my blood pressure rise quicker than not respecting my time.

You definitely have cause to switch doctors, biggirl. What you experienced is unacceptable. Good luck finding a new one.

I always make my medical appointments for early in the morning if possible.

Does he spend much time with you when he sees you or is he just completely overbooked?

There is a sign in my doctor’s office that states if you are more than 15 minutes late for an appointment, you will have to reschedule AND you will be charged for the visit. On my last appointment, after I’d paid (you have to pay before you see the doctor) and was seated in the waiting room, an announcement was made that my doctor was running 45 minutes late.

I had other errands to run that day, so I went back to the receptionist, demanded my money back, and pointed to the sign and said that if I were 45 minutes late, I would be charged for the appointment and forced to reschedule. They looked at me, horrified, as if they’d never seen a patient dare to buck the system.

I got my money back and haven’t been back yet. I do need to find a new doctor…the appointment was for my annual Pap smear, of which I’m a few years behind on anyway. :o

If more patients stand up to the overbooking that some doctors do, then maybe they will schedule their appointments more reasonably. Three hours is too long to wait, Biggirl. Good luck on finding another doctor.

I used to do that, too. Then I made an appointment with an ob/gyn I found in the yellow pages after I had just moved into a new town. My appointment was at 8:00 am. I thought I’d get in and out and not miss too much work. At 9:15 the nurse took me into an exam room, but told me to stay in warm clothes until the Dr. got to the office so that I wouldn’t become cold in their paper dress. I left right there and then.

The answer is a professionally run office and a Dr. who respects his/her patients enough to inform them when they are running excessively late.

Ooops - no, Sternvogel hasn’t undergone any sexual re-assignments lately. He logged into my computer and failed to log out. I have a feeling that after I tell him that he just posted an anecdote about his ob/gyn he’ll remember to log out from now on.