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Demanding Patients Try Physicians' Patience


I appreciate the business my medical practice receives, but my staff and I also need to attend to our personal lives as well and we can't sacrifice that.

So I recently posted about a woman who wanted to be seen ASAP and tried to pull rank by saying she is a hospital board member. An Internet search has thus far been negative. I did not see anyone with that name or a similar name listed on the hospital website, although I am asking around to verify. Not that it really matters, except that if she really is on the board, I will have to decide whether it is worthwhile to bring it up to other board members. Is it a HIPAA violation if she really isn’t a patient of mine? I know her diagnosis, but that is not pertinent to the discussion.

Anyway, not soon after that conversation, my associate, Dr. F, got an even more bizarre call. Now, I was not part of any of the conversations, so some of the details may have been lost along the way. Mr. X, oh excuse me, Dr. X called and told our receptionist that he is Dr. F’s patient and that he needs an appointment on a specific day because that’s when he is available. Now, he must think we are all pretty stupid because how long do you think it took to figure out he is not, was not, and has never been a patient of the practice? With our EHR: two seconds. So he needs a new patient appointment, for which there is a significant wait, and on the specific date he had in mind, there’s nothing.

Well, “Dr.” X (and I have to put that in quotation marks, because there is no way a real doctor, at least not a doctor of medicine would pull, pardon the expression, the crap he tried to pull) therefore had to speak to Dr. F herself. He asked her to see him on said date and when she said she did not have anything available on that date, he asked why she couldn’t see him during her break. How about after hours? How about a Saturday? She stood her ground (good girl) and said no. I told her after the fact she should have used my prepared speech about him arranging child care, transportation, and such. Why not throw in someone to do the laundry, the grocery shopping, and cooking? Because, you know, that is what working moms do after hours and on Saturdays.

How can people even ask such things? It’s not like we don’t have other things to do. We have other patients to see in the office and in the hospital. We have phone calls to make, forms to fill out, stupid prior authorizations, etc. And all these forms from the insurance companies, checking to make sure our diabetics are having their HbA1cs ordered and their eyes examined. Letters saying Mr. So-and-so hasn’t been refilling his statin as often as he is supposed to. And we do have lives outside of work (*gasp*). I know, shocking but true. We have husbands, children, and parents. There are houses to clean, soccer practices to go to, homework to check, and doctors’ visits to go to.

Do people really think we sit around twiddling our thumbs as we wait for their call? Do they think that if they just show up at the door, that we will be sitting on our behinds ready to jump up and see them at them whim? Whole other story.

We have been blessed with a busy practice. I am in no way ungrateful to the doctors and patients who send new patients our way. I know that in a healthcare system where doctors are having to close their doors because they can’t afford to keep them open, that we are very fortunate. But unless we make compromises somewhere (shorter visits, double booking, less comprehensive care, motherless children, unwashed clothes), we can’t see more patients than we already are now.

Find out more about Melissa Young and our other Practice Notes bloggers.

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