Friday, June 28, 2013

The “Best Health System in the World” Part 1: Appointments

Okay, I agree that once you see a doctor here in the United States, you probably WILL get the best service available. My little rant here is aimed at the system and the long, grueling process you must go through to see the doctor.

This morning I had a very chilling (and I don’t mean that in a good sense) experience when I called up the hospital to make an appointment for my roommate. That’s fine, I suppose, but I really shouldn’t have had to do it in the first place; Russ had an appointment scheduled for June 6, but they called him up the day before the appointment to tell him the appointment was postponed and that they would call him for a new appointment – they never called back. What made the experience so horrifying is the date for when the visit was set: October 29. Now, had HE been the one to cancel the appointment, I might not have fidgeted so much, but honestly! they were the perpetrators.

Last year, in July, Russ set up an appointment for an ophthalmologist because he has some serious visual problems; the soonest he could get an appointment was for August 13, 2013 – more than a year away. He has yet to get an orthopedic appointment for his back problems. sigh…

Regarding ophthalmology appointments: I had an appointment for 10:00 am with the ophthalmologist last June; I finally left at 7:30, without ever having seen the doctor. I made a new appointment for 3 days later, which had a much better result—I left after about 3-1/2 hours later with an appointment for a year later; all was well. Open-mouthed smile

However, I might say that my recent personal experiences might top even the abovementioned experiences. I had a 7:00 pm appointment with my primary doctor on April 9. The hospital even called to remind me of the appointment. I arrived 5 minutes early and waited until someone came to the desk (I have no idea where they were…). When someone came in 15 minutes later, I was informed that Dr. P had left early. WHAT?! I was more than just a little ticked because I needed to have new prescriptions for my various meds and a paper filled out so I could start having my insulin again, but at least they gave me a Metrocard and a new appointment for the following morning at 9:00.

I got up somewhat earlier on a very rainy morning and caught a 7:45 bus (I take two buses to get to the hospital); when I was 10 minutes away from the hospital, I received a phone call from the hospital saying Dr. P would not be in that day. WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!???????????? I wasn’t furious; I was extremely very much more than furious—I was deadly. People that hadn’t planned on getting off the bus at the next stop got off anyway. And I went to the hospital anyway, and was in line at 8:55. There was no way I could NOT get at least my prescriptions, so I informed them that I was less than pleased; bad move, I guess, because I finally got out of there at 4:00 (a 7 hour wait) with, however, my prescriptions and an appointment for June 21. No insulin request, though.

The really offensive thing was the letter I received about a week later informing me that I had missed my appointment and that I needed to make a new one. I was also perplexed, to say the least.

The appointment on the 21st went very well indeed, even though Dr. P kept asking why I hadn’t done requested exams that I had actually done on the set dates; this definitely tied for being the shortest visit I’d ever had—it only lasted 3-1/2 hours, and was more the exception than the norm. They also set up an appointment with the dermatologist for a rather worrisome skin problem; the date: March 4, 2014. geez!  My question is this: why do doctors feel that our time is less important than theirs? Were patients to be paid for the time they spend in doctors’ waiting rooms, according to the money they lose waiting, do you think waiting times might be somewhat shorter? I’d love to hear your opinion on the subject.