The lack of professionalism and discretion in this industry astounds me.
Long version: I've been experiencing back problems for the past month or more, so I finally agreed to go see my primary care physician. Most people I've spoken with on the subject, including some medical professionals, seem convinced that a muscle relaxant would do the trick. So, when I walked into my doctor's office, a quick consultation for a written prescription was all I was looking for. I didn't expect them to be able to fit me in that day, but I could at least set up an appointment.
Sadly, things didn't start off so well, as the person behind the counter was lacking in communication skills:
At one point, she asked, "What's your doctor's name?"
With some embarrassment, I responded, "Y'know, it's been so long I don't remember, but it's the guy who's name is on the building."
"He hasn't been here since 2004," she said.
I was a bit surprised by this, but I figured they must have other physicians on-staff for her to have asked me which one was my doctor. I was cool with seeing one of them, instead.
Later, I referred to her earlier statement about Dr. W having left the facility in 2004. She said, "I never said that he left this facility. I said that you haven't been here since 2004."
I think what happened earlier was that she was telling her co-worker that I hadn't been there since 2004. However, she never turned toward that person so I naturally assumed that "he" referred to the last person either of us had mentioned - namely, Dr. W.
Anyway, we got past that and she told me to sign in and someone would call my name. I did. About 20-30 minutes later, they called my name and told me that Dr. W's not accepting new patients and since I hadn't been there in so long, he's not going to treat me. Period.
Basically, he was dumping me.
Now, there are a lot of things I don't know or understand about the medical field or medical insurance, but this sure seemed strange, to me. Still, I decided to cut my losses and move along.
The young lady behind the counter went on to say that he could provide me with a referral to see another physician, but I turned that down. As far as I'm concerned, a referral is just him telling me about his buddy down the street that he wants to hook up with some business. Since I've also noticed that physicians (and their staff) don't bother to check whether they're referring you to someone who accepts your insurance, often resulting in wasted time and confusion, I saw no reason to accept the referral.
After politely declining her offer, I asked, "What I would have to do to get my medical records?"
She yelled to her co-worker, "He wants his records!"
I corrected her, saying, "No. I just want to know what's involved in the process so I can decide what to do, right now."
She responded, "Yeah. She does that, though, that's why I told her."
She completely missed the fact that I was asking for information, not action.
So, I waited on the co-worker to respond to me. Instead, she walked to the rear of the office, out-of-sight, and stayed away for close to five minutes. When she returned and still hadn't come over to me, I got her attention saying, "Hi. I'm not asking for my records, right now. I just want to know what's involved in getting them."
She said, "Oh. You don't want them?"
"Well, I might choose to get them, but first I want to know what's involved." If I had to fill out a ton of paperwork and wait on them to do a bunch of stuff, I'd just wait to do it another day. I'd already been away from work longer than I planned, without having been treated.
She told me that I don't have that much information in my file, so she'd just copy a few pages and hand them to me. And that's just what she did.
Within five minutes or so, she handed me an envelope with all my medical records. While that is what I wanted, here's the thing:
I could've been Shifty McShady up in there and they just handed my original records over to some guy who claimed to be west3man. You get me?
If I walked over there, this evening, while different people were on-staff, and asked for my original medical records, they couldn't produce them and they couldn't prove who they'd given them to.
Maybe I'm better-off being free of such an establishment, but I doubt their lack of professionalism and discretion was so unique. I'm disheartened by the fact that I didn't receive the prescription I needed and by the fact that I was unceremoniously disposed of like so much medical waste.
I drove around, some more, trying to find physicians that had love for my sorry-ass medical coverage (the fees are fine, but there are too few participating providers). Ultimately, I had no success and temporarily settled for a quick consultation with a pharmacist at the Publix grocery store near my job. I grabbed some over-the-counter stuff and hoped for the best.
Meanwhile, my back is so messed-up that, when we went to check on my girlfriend's hospitalized father, the family and staff spent an appreciated, but inordinate amount of time looking after me!
I look forward to leaving this job and hooking up with better insurance coverage, but I'm not too optimistic about the quality of service that I (or any of us) are likely to get.