A little rant on doctors offices

I'm going to venture into possible hot-topic territory here. The reason it's a possible hot-topic is because it's about doctors offices. Note: not necessarily the doctors themselves. Why is this a hot topic? Well my dearest friend happens to be a doctor. He also gets really pissy when people say anything possibly negative about doctors. (Don't worry though, he'll stubbornly declare that he's not pissed. When everyone knows that he's being an asshole -- he thinks he's just being rational. Uhuh. EAT ME.)

Ehem. ...Bit of a tangent there.

My problem is when they have to cancel your appointment. I've had many appointments canceled. Twice with my psychiatrist, twice with my psychologist, once with my dentist, and at least twice with primary care physicians. I've never received more than 24 hours notice. I usually get the call in the morning... just when I'm getting ready to go. Once they didn't even call me. I didn't find out until I had been waiting in the waiting room and they asked me if I wanted to reschedule. (Are you serious?)

I have 2 problems with this. No, I'm not saying a doctor isn't allowed to get sick or have an emergency and have to cancel my appointment. The fact that they canceled isn't the problem at all. Here's my main problems:

1. If I cancel without giving at least 24 hours notice, I get slapped with a 25 dollar fee. They can give me an hours notice and it's no big deal. They're usually rather rude about it too -- like they're expecting me to curse them out and call me when they're already on the defensive. So how about I get something for this? Maybe a 'get out of cancelation free' card or something. It's only fair. Or how about this -- how about an apology? Is it so hard for the person calling me to apologize for the hassle? Or maybe even apologize to me when I come in for my reschedule. I mean I'm a human with a schedule too and I deserve to be treated as such. I'm paying to see the doctor -- its not like they're doing me some huge favor.

2. The reschedule. It's never tomorrow. It's always their "next available" which can range from the next day to 2 months from now -- and who knows how long you had this appointment scheduled for. How about you squeeze me in somewhere? I had a major problem with this just under a month ago. My psychiatrist canceled an appointment I had to schedule a month in advance... then they call me the day of and cancel it. Ok, the next one is another month away -- put me down. Another month later and it's canceled. Well, I had a major problem. I really needed a change in my medications. Believe me, I let them know. They said the only way they could see me before then was if I was having homicidal thoughts. Well, I'd like to grab a gun and come shoot everyone in your office -- does that justify squeezing me in sometime before October? Long story short, I'm never going to that office again.

I really do think it's the office staff that is responsible for these issues. I don't think the doctors themselves know how poorly their patients are treated by their staff. That or they are just indifferent and have so many patients they can stand losing a few.

The office staff is just as important as the doctor as far as I'm concerned. They are the people you have to communicate with the most. You can really tell a difference when there's a good staff. My GYN's office staff is the cream of the crop if you ask me. The receptionist is so wonderfully nice -- you'd think she knew exactly who you were and you'd known her for years. The nurses and residents are equally as personable. Compare that the the psychs office. They're all bitches. No, they really are.

So what on earth do you do? Do you tell the doctor? I don't want to finally get to see a doctor who is perfectly nice himself and start griping. I want to focus on the reason I'm there -- his/her help. Do you send a letter? To who? Do you change offices and never let them know why? Who hires these people anyway? Who is really the head of the doctors office? I'm just so dumbfounded that you can be treated so poorly by people you pay large sums of money. Can someone justify this to me?


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