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Old 12-15-2017, 01:20 PM
 
6,909 posts, read 10,782,078 times
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Ok.

I have unfortunately spent a lot of time around hospitals and doctors lately and I have a very major gripe (that I never realized before because I've never spent a lot of time around hospitals and doctors).

If you're a freakin doctor, you're making 150 - 600K a year, you should be accessible at least by email to answer questions from patients. Or at least have your administrative take down the message and guarantee the patient will get some kind of an answer from another doctor or highly qualified nurse there or something.

I understand if you're a famous heart surgeon at NY Presbyterian that you might not have time to answer questions from patients. And maybe you have a qualified nurse answer pressing questions.

But if you're a freakin internal med or specialty doctor operating out of a 1-story clinic outpatient in the suburbs that closes its doors at 4:30 PM sharp, then you should be accessible to return calls or emails to patients.

Instead, I call the office and the doctor obviously won't pick up the phone to talk to me that moment (I understand), won't call me back if I leave a message (fair), won't give out his email address (bad), and administrative is more or less completely in the dark about how I can get question to my doctor answered.

At the very least, have a nurse practitioner or PA available to answer questions and emergencies such as "Hey, I'm bleeding from the procedure. Should I go to the hospital? Am I going to die?" The last time I called, the receptionist (who I'm not even sure has an LPN) was giving me advice on something that might have been life threatening (long shot, but still).

Moderator cut: removed highly inflammatory remark and inappropriate language

Last edited by in_newengland; 12-15-2017 at 02:32 PM..
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Old 12-15-2017, 03:08 PM
 
Location: Texas
3,684 posts, read 2,816,494 times
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I'm sorry you feel your doctors aren't accessible to you, but that hasn't been my experience, and on the few occasions it has, that's my signal to take my business elsewhere.

And perhaps I come at this from the other side because my husband is a surgeon and I've worked in health care as well. I've seen my husband bust his rear for almost 20 years to provide high quality care to patients who run the spectrum from very appreciative, to downright rude and non-compliant (and yes, there are a lot of people in the latter group).

So, while I understand your frustrations, please remember it's a two way street. Things like taking patient calls in the middle of the night, going into the office on a weekend to write a patient a new prescription for pain meds, adding on Post Op patients to the clinic schedule asap if patients have concerns, those are all common things for my husband to do, and most of the other doctors we know as well.

Last edited by Texas Ag 93; 12-15-2017 at 04:27 PM..
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Old 12-15-2017, 03:54 PM
 
Location: Mostly in my head
19,617 posts, read 53,354,626 times
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I get answers from my doctors or their nurses regularly. You must have some incompetent ones.
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Old 12-15-2017, 04:04 PM
 
Location: on the wind
3,955 posts, read 1,483,216 times
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Hmm, I don't think I've ever had a practice fail to return a call, or answer a specific question. If the doctor I saw wasn't available (because they were giving their undivided attention to ANOTHER patient who also wants the care you want) the question/call was handled by someone else in the practice. OP, it is possible that something dropped through the cracks. It happens. People, even MDs and practitioners, are human.

Just when do you think most MDs would have time to answer emails? First we demand their undivided attention for as much time as possible during appointments, they are squeezing in as many appointments as possible in order to operate in the green, now you expect them to sit down for hours after all the appointments are finished just to answer emails? Don't think that's going to happen.

Does your insurance carrier have any sort of phone/email support option? Many offer programs that connect you to a nurse or on-call practitioner to help you with general or after hour questions. They can at least filter out something that can be dealt with at home versus something you should seek immediate help for.
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Old 12-15-2017, 04:42 PM
 
18,555 posts, read 6,037,470 times
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When I had hip replacement in 2010, I had my 3 follow up post op appointments and after that I had so many questions along the way...like why is it so numb etc etc...long long story on my issue but I must have sent 10 emails to the doctor's PA and he did his best to give me answers. This was over a 6 month period or so.

Honestly, I got more answers from others on replacement boards and then a podiatrist saw how short my one leg was left. One person said about the numbness, it sounds like Femoral Nerve Damage and then I did my research and sure enough. This nerve damage happens often with the type replacement I had.

True, doctors are so busy and most have assistants to get back to patient's calls.
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Old 12-15-2017, 07:42 PM
 
6,909 posts, read 10,782,078 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllisonHB View Post

Just when do you think most MDs would have time to answer emails? First we demand their undivided attention for as much time as possible during appointments, they are squeezing in as many appointments as possible in order to operate in the green, now you expect them to sit down for hours after all the appointments are finished just to answer emails? Don't think that's going to happen.
It takes me 2.5-4 weeks to make an appointment to see my specialist and when I do see him, the whole appointment lasts from 5 to 7 minutes.

Between then. I can't email him, I can't get him on the phone. Would you like me to break down what happened?

The last time I called the office with a question about internal bleeding, the receptionist told me it had nothing to do with the procedure.

It was in fact 100% related to the procedure.

I ended up in the hospital, who told me to follow up with that doctor. When I called that doctor back, they said "OK, so you were in the hospital from bleeding, the first appointment we have is three weeks from now."

Me: "You don't have anything sooner. Can I speak to the doctor?"

Them: "No we don't have anything sooner? What is it you want to ask him?"

Granted, this office might be particularly bad, but somehow I doubt it. It seems pretty par for the course.

Anyway, I'm switching, but yes, I do feel like doctors should answer emails or provide an NP/PA to do so. Maybe cut the amount of patients they see in half so they can focus more on individual patients.

Last edited by jobaba; 12-15-2017 at 07:58 PM..
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Old 12-15-2017, 07:50 PM
 
6,909 posts, read 10,782,078 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Ag 93 View Post

So, while I understand your frustrations, please remember it's a two way street. Things like taking patient calls in the middle of the night, going into the office on a weekend to write a patient a new prescription for pain meds, adding on Post Op patients to the clinic schedule asap if patients have concerns, those are all common things for my husband to do, and most of the other doctors we know as well.
My sister is a doctor. And if I had this conversation with her, she would no doubt blow her lid.

I understand. Some people are hypochondriacs. But I am not. I've been to hospital twice in my 40+ years of life. Once when I was six years old, and the last ... a couple of weeks ago.

But pre-emptively saying to every patient "You can never email me or get me on the phone, you can only make an appointment to see me 3 weeks from now, or leave a message with the receptionist and 'someone else' who vaguely knows your case will/may supply an answer and have the receptionist call you back."

I mean, that's a bit bad to me. I mean some of these people are dealing with heart conditions, and serious stuff.

Am I really all alone in my opinion here?
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Old 12-15-2017, 08:01 PM
 
6,909 posts, read 10,782,078 times
Reputation: 7366
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaminhealth View Post
When I had hip replacement in 2010, I had my 3 follow up post op appointments and after that I had so many questions along the way...like why is it so numb etc etc...long long story on my issue but I must have sent 10 emails to the doctor's PA and he did his best to give me answers. This was over a 6 month period or so.

Honestly, I got more answers from others on replacement boards and then a podiatrist saw how short my one leg was left. One person said about the numbness, it sounds like Femoral Nerve Damage and then I did my research and sure enough. This nerve damage happens often with the type replacement I had.

True, doctors are so busy and most have assistants to get back to patient's calls.
The problem I have with assistants getting back to you is they don't really know your case.

But that's a lot better than what I've been dealing with. A PA/NP to answer patients questions sounds alright and is a pretty fair compromise. Maybe I can find a better office.
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Old 12-15-2017, 08:08 PM
 
18,555 posts, read 6,037,470 times
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Jobaba: Sorry you are going thru this, I don't really have issues outside of the hip thing and now a knee mess but that's another long story of hospital and rehabs.

For general health I see only an integrative MD and she has gotten back to me about a question on a last year's labs...and otherwise I'll email her assistant and keep on her to get the answer I'm looking for.

Right now, a neighbor is out of a hip replacement on 12/1 and still no PT and doctor didn't order rehab for her. She was NOT walking before hip replacement so was weak going into surgery...as I see it she needed to go to rehab for a week or so at least.

She's still not walking and it's 15 days post op and no PT ordered and no appt with doc until Jan 4...she calls the office and gets no return calls.

Maybe these surgeons are trying to get as many replacements in before the new year. Hard to say..but the surgeon as I see it has left her hanging. This is her first hospital experience and didn't know what to expect.

Best advice is stay away from doctors and hospitals....
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Old 12-15-2017, 08:26 PM
 
Location: Cary, NC
674 posts, read 1,469,612 times
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Does your doctor not use Mychart or a similar portal? All of my doctors do, and I communicate with them (or their nurses) frequently, always with quick responses to my messages.
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