Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Just a rant, mostly...

I don't go to doctors. I hate doctor visits. First, there's the lengthy wait because they never take you at your appointment time, of course. Then there's all that exposure to germs in the waiting room. Then you finally get called back and a nurse or assistant or someone does some things, and then you have to wait all over again before you actually get to see a doctor. You have to self-diagnose, he's in and out of there in a minute or less, and finally you're good to go.

What was the point of that? I can self-diagnose at home, and self-treat too. I don't want to take antibiotics unless it's critical that I do so because I think in most instances they do more harm than good anyway. And with no health insurance, it costs an absolute fortune to go to the doctor. So I don't.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking -- but what about preventative health care? What about it? I personally believe that the food I eat, exercise I get, and supplements I take go much farther toward preventing future health problems than doctor visits. So that's where my time and money goes -- toward actually preventing disease, not just testing periodically to see if I have any.

I know you can live a healthful life and still get sick. It can happen to anyone. But if it happens, it happens. I can't waste all my time and money on doctor visits checking to see if it's going to happen all the time. It's just not how I want to live my life.

However, there is one doctor that I can't avoid. The eye doctor. I'm blind as a bat (without correction), and unfortunately there's that little "prescription only lasts a year" issue when it comes to vision correction. Oh, I find ways to get around that too. You simply buy enough contact lenses during the year your prescription is valid to last you several years. :) But alas, I'm on my last pair of contacts and I can't put it off any longer. I must have an eye exam.

So being in a new location, I needed a new optometrist. I scouted around and found one a mile from my house. Can't beat the location, so I scheduled an appointment. It was difficult to do as my work schedule, thanks to all the driving, has become insane lately, but I scheduled for 8 am, figuring I could still work most of the day that way. After all, to avoid the lengthy wait due to backed up appointments, you make sure you're the first patient of the day, right? You get right in and then back out again.

My first work appointment today was at 10. I really thought two hours was enough time. Especially when I got the eye history and HIPAA forms in the mail to fill out ahead of time, "to expedite your visit." Well, great -- these people are all about efficiency. Perfect.

So I show up at 8, hand them my papers, and am told to have a seat and someone will be with me shortly. I was a bit surprised to see five other people already there, since the office had just opened its doors, and there's only one doctor. But maybe they have a lot of staff members doing the bulk of the exams, I thought.

About ten minutes later, a couple more people came in. And about ten minutes after that, some more. Some of the people who were there when I arrived were called back, but it was about one person per fifteen minutes.

At 9:00, having waited now for a full hour, one man went up to the desk and said, "My appointment was supposed to be at 8:30, can you tell me how much longer it's going to be?"

"Oh," says the receptionist. "About another thirty minutes."

(At this point, I'm thinking to myself, okay, my appointment was at 8 so that must mean they're going to call me any minute now, right?)

The man was displeased, and informed her that he is not able to sit for long periods of time and he can't wait that much longer. She said, "Oh, well if you're not able to sit and wait long, what you need to do is get an 8 am appointment, and be the first patient of the day, then you won't have to wait very long at all." She rescheduled him for another day at 8 am.

I kept my mouth shut. I shouldn't have, the man needed to be warned, but I did.

I waited another ten minutes. Might I add that at this point, NONE of the people who have been called back have emerged yet. I really didn't think a vision exam took that long! It worried me even more, seeing as how I was supposed to be at work at 10, and it was already ten minutes after 9 and they'd not even called me back yet.

I went up to the receptionist and asked how much longer it would be. "About thirty minutes," she smiles.

I wasn't smiling.

I don't even think it was a valid answer. Funny how the man with the 8:30 appointment had a thirty minute wait ahead of him and ten of it had already passed... I think she must just say thirty minutes to everyone.

I said, "Well, I'm going to have to cancel then." "Oh, okay," she smiles ever-so-sweetly. "Would you like to go ahead and reschedule now?"

What, so I can waste another day sitting in their office? You have to be kidding me.

I said, mostly because I wanted all the other people sitting there to know just how ridiculously long their wait was going to be, "No... if an 8:00 appointment doesn't get you in until 9:40, I don't want to reschedule. I can't take that much time off work, I'll have to find somewhere else," and I left. That's very unlike me, I'm usually pretty patient, but this was truly ridiculous.

I called another eye doctor. I made an appointment and I asked about how much time I needed to allot for the appointment, as I needed to schedule work around it. "Oh, from the time you walk in the door until the time you leave, you'll need to allow for about an hour," she said cautiously, as if she expected that to be too lengthy of a time for me to be able to manage it.

An hour? For the wait time plus the exam?? Good grief, after waiting an hour and ten minutes and being told there'd be another thirty minute wait before they even got started, and not a soul had finished their exam yet, an hour is NOTHING. (An hour is actually what I had thought it would take this morning, all total.)

It really makes me wonder just how many patients this eye doctor loses due to massive overbooking, and why they continue to do it. After all, two of us walked out in the first hour they were open today. How many must they be losing by the time they're into the afternoon hours and how far behind are they by that time?

If anyone is a receptionist for a doctor who handles the scheduling, could you please tell me just what is the thought process behind this!?

And how do those of you who visit doctors frequently stand it? I have families all the time that tell me, "Well, little Joey woke up with a runny nose, I'm going to take him to the doctor." WHY? Little Joey's runny nose will get better without a doctor; why put you and little Joey through the torture of the doctor's visit?

Help me understand...


Lauri said...

The eye doctor and dentist are the only doctors I see regularly. My insurance covers 1 physical a year and I've been working my way to seeing that 1 a decade is probably a good practice. Actually, my company has started an event where you can "know your numbers". During it we can get a blood test and receive many of the things frequently tested. I've been doing that as I don't see a benefit in not. Of course OTOH, all my relatives have died in their 90s of heart problems so I'm thinking that's likely and I'll take 90.

Rachel said...

Other doctors I always have to wait for, but my dentist is always right on time. We were 10 minutes late to Anneliese's visit this week due to a problem I ran into, and I called to warn them. When we walked in the door they were waiting for us!

1 Doctor and a room full of 8 o'clock appointments seems really odd. I say send them a bill for your time! Or at least a letter explaining exactly what the problem is and how they've lost not only you as a customer, but anyone you tell about it.

Rachel said...

Which reminds me, we'll need an eye doctor soon, since Piper Maru is 3! Don't let me go to whoever you just saw. (My eye doctor from before my lasik has since retired, so I don't have anyone local anymore.)

Laura said...

I would have been very upset too! I had a similar thing happen years ago with a doctor that had removed my daughter's tonsils. After waiting for an hour in the waiting room, I went to ask how much longer it would be (I had noticed that others who came in after we did were getting called back before us). The receptionist told me that their long-time patients usually call ahead to see how long the doctor was behind and then wait that amount of time before they come in. I was livid! We were stuck, though, he had already removed her tonsils and we were there for the follow-up. We never went back to him again. Funny thing is, he's a very popular and well-respected doctor in this area. I guess there are those who feel that he's worth the wait. I'm not one of them...

Lauri said...

My mom had a similar thing happen to her when I was an infant. I was born breech and the doctor pulled my hip out of the socket, so I had to be put in a body cast. I wasn't to have any food after midnight and they gave a 7:30am appointment. He finally saw us at 2. Then he complained that I was fussy. Maybe because most 2-3 month olds don't go 14 hours without food? Eventually he stuck a pacifier in my mouth. I can't tell you how much my Mom hates them and refused to ever use one. I spit it out at him. My Mom was thrilled. She dealt with him, but told everyone until he died that he was a bad doctor.