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My p-doc just screwed me over.


lunar47

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I am so royally pissed right now. Last monday I was put on a 5150 (the infamous 72 hr hold) and sent to a psychiatric facility for the week. This was because I cut pretty badly on monday morning and expressed some suicidal thoughts to a mobile crisis worker. I couldn't promise that I wouldn't hurt myself before friday when I was supposed to meet with my psychiatrist. So they took me in. All of this is really not my point. The hospitalization was probably the best thing for me last week. Anyways, the crisis worker called my doctor, my inpatient p-doc called her and my case worker all called my doc and she returned none of their phone calls. Even they were really annoyed by that. I called her on thursday (the day I was leaving the hospital) and left her a message to call me back. What I received was a 30 second conversation telling me that I'll see her on friday at 2 pm. Whatever. Friday morning comes and I'm shopping at Costco with my mom when I get a call from her office. A woman I had never spoken to before told me that the doctor had to cancel my appointment. What the fuck! I never even got an explanation. She just kept asking if I wanted to reschedule. I didn't even know what to say. I cried for a good 10 minutes between aisles.

Didn't she think that a person coming out of inpatient was pretty damn emotionally vulnerable. Especially if a visit to her was part of my aftercare plan. I would of understood if she had an emergency or if she was sick. But give me a an explanation and at least refer me to someone else. What if I had needed prescriptions? That is just not right. It borders on negligent. I'm glad my mom was with me. At least it kept me from cutting again in anger. I'm sending her a letter and never seeing her again. Hopefully I can go back to my old p-doc who I loved.

Anyone else have a similar experience?

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It would have been nice to have been told an explanation, that's for sure. That's ridiculous. Even if it had been a personal emergency, they should have told you, not just nothing at all. I'm really sorry about that. Make sure you don't burn any bridges with her though...I say that though cause I live in a small area and you never know who you'll have to refer back to. Plus you don't want "noncompliant" on your record. But you do have every right to be upset. I did have a pdoc that never called my therapist back...I guess she wasn't "important enough." But I did keep her cause I've changed doctors enough.

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OMG! That's really BAD! I would totally do the same thing, DROP her like a freakin' stone! Honestly that is just wrong to do that to you when you're fresh from an inpatient stay...Especially after that ridiculously short 30 second phone call. Though I wouldn't bother with the letter, I would just NOT schedule anything with this callous irresponsible pdoc who seems to not want to bothered with truly helping you. I mean if they had said to you on that second call from the worker you've never spoken to, "Doc ___'s Mother is in the hospital, or Died, or (insert VALID excuse here) MAYBE it would have made a difference, but since they can't GIVE You any reason for this sudden cancellation it's really just like saying, there IS not a valid reason and she wants to just go golfing or something. I mean that's what it feels like right? ;) I'm sorry this happend to you lunar47. :)

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I definitely think she should have had some form of an explaination, but I can agree to disagree cairn. Like, "She had an emergency come up and I need to reschedule your appt. do you need any scripts?" Seriously, it's called common professional courtesy in my book. I've pretty much always had explainations from other dr's offices when told my appt had to be rescheduled. But again, maybe that's just Southern Manners or something and how people are down here in FL. When you are having a crisis you kinda need to know that the dr is concerned enough to give you more then a 30 second convo comfirming your appt, then the DAY of your flippin' appt, to just get brushed off is really bad...Just my two cents...

Edited to fix typo

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I guess this incident was more the straw that broke the camel's back. This is not the first time she has done something like this before. A few times she has called within 2 days before my appt. to cancel (with an explanation) and then I would land up having to reschedule 2-3 weeks later. I see her on a monthly basis so that's 6 weeks between meetings when I'm going through med changes. It's not good to say the least. And she's double booked me before. I had to wait over an hour to see her when I had the appt. time first. I saw her write it in her book and since she had no appointments scheduled on that day yet she told me I could pick any time. The way she runs her office is so disorganized. I've only seen her since september. It's not like these incidents were spread over years.

In response to Cairn: I'm sure she does have other patients. But it's not like she works in a larger practice, she's private. She doesn't work at any of our hospitals. At the very least she should have called my inpatient psychiatrist back. Not caring that you're even in the hospital is pretty poor when she comes off as warm and caring during her appointments.

notfred: I didn't need any prescriptions which was the good thing. The inpatient p-doc gives you one when you leave. But I would have needed one anyways if I wasn't in hospital. And I was kind of out of it at the time so I didn't really know what to say on the phone. I didn't get the chance to call back when I was more put together. Maybe I'll call on monday.

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This is my advice, for whatever it's worth:

1) FIND ANOTHER PDOC--if you can. You don't say where you're from, so I don't know if you have a lot of options. But I'm going to assume that there's at least one other pdoc out there you can see. Do any of the pdocs at the hospital where you stayed take patients into private practice? That might be an option. And it's got to be better than the idiot you're dealing with. It may take time. I've had to switch pdocs a few times and sometimes it can take months. But this is your life you're dealing with, and you deserve better.

2) Write the letter to your idiot pdoc like you were planning to do. Don't get overly nasty or overemotional (I know, hard to do when you're crazy and she's literally fucking with your life), just tell her that you are going to another pdoc and tell her WHY. You want to say this very plainly without getting dramatic. Example: On (DATE) I was admitted to the hospital on a mandatory 72-hour hold. I was ordered to follow up with my regular pdoc (you) as part of my aftercare. With less than 24 hours' notice your receptionist called to cancel the appointment and gave no explanation. (You want to say this because it's entirely possible that the receptionist didn't know there was some urgency to your appointment, and it's entirely possible that the pdoc doesn't know how the receptionist handled it. Not that this is excusable. But if the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, that could be part of the problem.)

You might also add that this is not the first time you've had difficulties with her, then list the other incidents you mentioned in your post--cancelling at the last minute when you were changing meds & needed to be monitored, being over an hour late, etc. Of course this is understandable if there's an emergency, but if it's every fricking time, something is seriously wrong. Again, be very specific, and list dates if you can remember them.

3) Send the letter certified mail if you can afford it. (It's about $5.50.) The post office has these green cards and receipts that go with them. You'll put your pdoc's address on one side of the card, and your address on the other, then attach it to the envelope. This will require someone at your pdoc's office to sign the green card attached to the envelope, and then the green card will be mailed back to you. This is your proof that your pdoc's office received your letter.

4) Keep a copy of your letter and keep the green card. If anyone questions you about why you didn't promptly follow through with aftercare, this is your proof that you made a good faith effort to see your pdoc like you were supposed to and the fact that you didn't was entirely not your fault.

Finally--this is not acceptable behavior. For too long our society has been brainwashed into thinking that doctors are gods and that the fact that they went to med school for 7+ years means we should never question what they do. Doctors are human beings, which means that they are just as capable as making mistakes as the rest of us. They're also just as capable of being royal jackasses as the rest of the general population. If any business (medical practices are businesses, too) doesn't give you adequate service, then you find a business that does. A doctor's office is no exception. In fact, it's even more important. This is your LIFE they're fucking with, for crying out loud! If you don't take responsibility to see that you get the treatment you need and deserve, who else is going to do it for you?

If this pdoc has screwed you over this badly, she's probably done it to other patients as well. She needs a wake-up call. And if calling this incident to her attention isn't enough of a wake-up call for her, then I'm sure she'll get an even bigger one somewhere down the road in the form of a malpractice suit.

Good luck to you. I'll be crossing everything I have two of for you. ;)

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Great adivce peppermintpatty! I like the part about sending the letter certified mail, that's really smart-cover your bases, good policy to live by. Thanks for posting to lunar47, I am sure it will be very useful to her. ;)

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That's pretty bad; she is a PROFESSIONAL, not a patient. AS a professional it is her responsibility to make sure her patients are covered. If she has an emergency and needs to cancel her appointments, there should be a colleague she can refer them to. At the very *least* she should make sure her patients are covered in the event she has an emergency.

I work in health care. This is unheard of, I can assure you. Physicians work in practices for a reason. They get docs to cover them when they aren't available (e.g. vacations and time off or emergencies).

Oh, and, if your doctor is having SO MANY EMERGENCIES that she frequently needs to cancel all of her patients for a day or two, it's possible she isn't very stable herself, and her judgment may be questionable.

Definitely get a new doctor.

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How on earth do you feel you're owed an explanation?

You seem to expect special treatment. She certainly has more patients to care for than just you. Get over it. Sheesh.

Excuse me, but I think that lunar deserves a bit more respect than what you just gave.

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Thank you so much everyone for the support. I did manage to get an appointment with my previous psychiatrist for this week. That has definitely made me feel a lot better. And I'm definitely going to write her a letter.

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I work in health care. This is unheard of, I can assure you.

Sorry Oscillate, but I've got to disagree with you on this one. While this behavior is unconscionable, it is certainly NOT "unheard of". Sadly, it goes on all the time. I could fill an entire blog with incidents of how overworked and/or uncaring physicians have screwed me over. I don't necessarily hate doctors, but I don't take everything they say as gospel truth.

This is why it is CRITICAL for patients to self-advocate. If a doctor puts you on a med and it makes you feel worse, you have to stand up and say so. If I hadn't done that when my pdocs tried to put me on SSRIs, I'd probably be dead by now. (SSRIs turn me into a weepy miserable zombie. On both of the occasions when I was put on them, I decided on my own to discontinue them after about 3-4 days.) If a med is working for you and your doc wants to take you off it, ask--no, DEMAND an explanation. My first pdoc didn't want to put me on remeron because he was afraid I'd gain weight. A few years later I was put on doxepin (by another pdoc), and that made me gain weight. But you know what? Unless you've got some medical condition that would make it dangerous for you to gain weight, weight gain isn't the most horrible thing in the world. If being fat is the price I have to pay for being able to hold down a job and occasionally be able to see the glass half full, then I'll gladly be fat. And anyone who has a problem with the size of my ass can kiss it. ;) And oh yeah, I'm occasionally taking remeron now too.

But I'm digressing. Like I said in an earlier post, a medical practice is just like any other business. As a consumer you have a right to expect good service, and if you're not getting it, you have the right to go elsewhere. If your dry cleaner constantly ruined your clothes or was habitually late in getting them cleaned, you'd go to another dry cleaner, right? Isn't your health and well-being more important than your damn dry cleaning??

One more thought for lunar--when you write that letter, you might want to cc someone at the hospital where you were treated. I'm not necessarily saying you should, I'm just saying you might consider it. It wouldn't be a bad idea to alert the hospital folk that your pdoc isn't exactly kosher, and sometimes public humiliation is the only way to get back at an incompetent doc. It's up to you--just a thought.

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Peppermint reading your reply made me feel really good. I've heard and experienced a LOT of bad doctor stories and you are exactly right that people need to advocate for themselves. That doesn't mean we can treat doctors with disrespect or ignore their advice but assertiveness can make the difference between life and death.

Lunar I hope your old pdoc can help you out. It seems like you've had a really rough few weeks.

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Dr's offices expect a 24 hour cancellation notice from us, or else they charge for the broken appt. Patients should be given the same courtesy!!! (Unless there's some life and death emergency, in which case I'd expect the receptionist to begin the conversation with "There's been an emergency and Dr __ needs to reschedule all of his/her patients. Could you come in on Monday at 10:30?") My doc wants 48 hrs notice and even requires a $50 deposit for new patients to schedule w/him, but fortunately, the reason behind it isn't $$$$ but because he's in very high demand, spends 30-60 min per patient, and manages to stay on schedule! He'd rather schedule in someone on the waiting list than have an hour of down time due to a "no show." He won't settle for leaving someone on meds that don't work, won't abruptly stop meds before they've had enough time to work, personally returns phone calls asap, listens and asks questions... now that's a pdoc!!!!! I've had many, some who give a sh** and some who don't. Wish there were more like him to go around, and lunar, I sincerely hope you end up with a good one too. -Lav

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I think it's important to include in the letter that she did not return phone calls to those 3 professionals who contacted her while you were in hospital. That clearly shows that she is unprofessional and incompetent in my book.

I had something similar recently. My old pdoc retired, so I had to get a new one. She had little experience, 4 yrs I think, but I thought, OK, she'll be up on the latest. Well, she was a scatterbrain. Her office was always a mess, and she always seemed overwhelmed. She was OUT of the office a LOT for a week or 2 at a time. I thought it was probably because she coudln't handle the stress of the job, but I don't really know. Also, I think she's probably ADD, because in office visits, she would just fly all over the place with her ideas. An unnerving thing she did was that she would stare into my eyes while she was thinking for an uncomfortably long time. I mean, it was so weird, it was like Saturday Night Live or something.

She also had a habit of scheduling my appts for the day before she went on a 2 wk hiatus. So, she would change my meds, and I would be unable to reach her... she would also change 2 meds at once, which is weird, because you can't tell which med is doing what.

So! I found a new pdoc who is fantastic, and I left a phone msg for the old one. I said that her being out of the office so much made me anxious and so did her going random flitting around mentally during appts. She actualy wrote me a letter thanking me for the feedback, so maybe it helped some of her other patients.

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One more suggestion for you, lunar. When you finally have that appointment with your old p-doc, you may want to bring the letter you're writing to your idiot p-doc with you. When your pdoc sits down with you and asks you what happened, being able to hand him/her your letter and say "Read it and weep" might be easier on you emotionally than you having to verbally re-hash everything that went on.

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