Doctors’ Businesses Could Use Some Practice

I’ve had two very interesting experiences with doctors and their practices in the past few weeks.

One is the general practitioner who admitted me to the hospital a few weeks  ago, after I wound up in the emergency room with chest pains.   The other is the cardiologist that treated me there, as I was in overnight as they ran some tests.   Their stories intertwine, so please bear with me.

After being discharged from the hospital I called the Dr. NoHeart’s office to set up a stress test, as per my discharge instructions.  After several days of no returned calls I finally managed to get an appointment for the stress test – nearly 2 weeks after being discharged.  I went for the test 7 days ago and have been waiting for the results.

And waiting.

And waiting.

Every single person I’ve spoken to that’s had a stress test has gotten the results immediately or within 24 hours.

I figured that no news was good news, but I finally called the office yesterday.  I was told that results are not given over the phone, and that I should have made an appointment for 3 weeks from testing.

Really? No one told me that.  Come to think of it, no one called me to tell me that I should not eat nor drink the morning of the stress test, nor even to confirm the appointment.  I had called them, the morning of the test.  When I asked why no one told me that I was told that I “should have known” because “Dr. NoHeart always puts that in his discharge instructions.”

No, he does not.  All mine says is to call his office to schedule the stress test.  Period.  Said girl was completely disinterested in my complaint.

No worries, you see, because I was given an appointment.  Now I get to wait until September 9th to get my results. September 9th!

What if the test showed an abnormality?  I told the girl, who really seemed put out by the gall I was showing in asking for the results, “Well, I suppose if the test showed that something  is wrong and something happens before the appointment,  at least my husband and son will get a really nice malpractice settlement…”

See how well I make friends?

Exasperated to the nth degree, I did what all 30-and 40-something people are starting to do – I vented on Facebook.  And turned my attention to the appointment I had scheduled for today with Dr. GoodGuyIckyOffice.

I’d made the appointment with him because I was hoping he would become my next General Practitioner ( The one I’ve been going to for the last several years is not the best diagnostician, evidenced by the fact that my last several illnesses have been diagnosed by  Son’s pediatrician as offhand comments while treating my son.  Add that to an openly hostile medical assistant and a forty-minute drive, and you can stick a fork in me – I’m done…).  In the hospital I was impressed with this doctor’s manner, impeccable appearance, confidence, and the fact that his office is less than a mile from my house.

I showed up at Dr. GoodGuyIckyOffice’s office on time, having not eaten (expecting blood to be drawn) nor peed (self-explanatory) in hopes of a complete workup.  I had a bit of trouble locating the office, as you cannot see  the sign bearing his name as it’s on the wrong side of the door, invisible through the dark glass.

The waiting room was small and dingy.  I don’t need a doctor with a huge, expensive, perfect office.  But it didn’t  even look particularly clean.  And though the receptionist was courteous,  I was immediately irritated when she said, “Just let me call the hospital for your records.”  THAT should have been done the day I made the appointment – the week before.

Irritated as I was, a brilliant thought managed to creep through.  “Do me a favor,” I said to the receptionist.  “After you call the hospital, will you please call Dr. NoHeart’s office and ask them to fax over the results of my stress test?  I’m sure Dr. GoodGuyIckyOffice will want to see that.”


A few minutes later the receptionist told me that Dr. NoHeart’s office  said they just received the report yesterday, and that Dr. NoHeart had not signed off on it yet.

Foiled again!

So, I follow the medical assistant to the exam room, which is also dingy and though swept it does not appear clean.  We go through all of the regular motions.  She begins to take a medical history, and eventually asks me my height.

“Five feet, six inches,” I answer.  She takes out a calculator to figure out how many inches that is.

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking I’m going to poke fun at her because she needed a calculator to figure out how many inches 5’6″ is.

Nooooooooooo.  Not at all.

I admit to being surprised by what came out of her mouth next.  “67.2 inches,” she affirmed.  Huh?

“No, it’s actually sixty-six inches,” I say.

After she contradicted me again, and showed me the calculator’s answer, I explained, “A foot has twelve inches.  Five times twelve is sixty.  And I’m 5′ plus 6 inches. Sixty plus six is sixty-six.”  She still was not convinced, so I had one more thing to offer.  “How can the answer have a fraction of an inch?”

G-d only knows how tall I am in that medical record.  Though being 67.2 inches – a smidge over 5’7″ – would have been nice.

At this point I’d completely given up on the idea of Dr. GoodGuyIckyOffice becoming my GP.   I have to have confidence not only in the doctor him/herself, but the office.  So very many things can go wrong in a disorganized,  poorly staffed office.  And don’t you think a doctor’s office should be nearly spotless?  I do.

Eventually Dr. GoodGuyIckyOffice came into the exam room, looking bright and shiny and impeccable.  The contrast to his office was marked.  We discussed how I’d been feeling, what I’d been doing.  He asked about the stress test, and I told him what had been happening with Dr. NoHeart, and how frustrated I was that I couldn’t get the results.

Dr. GoodGuyIckyOffice pulled out his cell phone and called Dr. NoHeart on his private line, and explained the situation.  He also was incredulous that I was told I’d have to wait until next month for the results.  Lo and behold, Dr. NoHeart was looking at my test results that very minute (thanks, I’m sure, to the impetus of the call asking for a copy of the report!)!

Turns out there was a worrisome reading on the test, though half of the time it’s a false positive.  Nevertheless I’m going to need a cardiac catheterization to find out, and Dr. NoHeart now wants to see me on Monday.

And on the way out of Dr. GoodGuyIckyOffice’s I got a call from Dr. NoHeart’s office telling me that I’ve been given a 10:30 appointment, and,  “I’m telling you now you’re going to have to wait.”  Sooooo gracious, that one.

I really don’t understand why the staff at some doctors offices treat people like crap, and why doctors don’t do something about it.  I will put up with a great deal of crap if I like the doctor, but there will eventually come a straw that breaks this camel’s back.

I once fired a dermatologist after waiting well over an hour for my appointment, then hearing one staff member say to another who’d commented that people were complaining about the wait, “That’s too damn bad.  Let them wait!”   I fired that doctor only after she denied that it happened.   Her staff, “would never say that.”  I heard it clearly.  Apparently I lied.  Because really, I have nothing better to do than make up lies about doctors’ office staff.  And, by the way, she never apologized for the wait.  I understand that emergencies arise, but at least be gracious!

We also fired one of Husband’s endocrinologists after showing up for an appointment and waiting for an hour and a half, only to discover that not only was Husband meeting with a Physician’s Assistant and not the doctor, but that the other six other patients in the waiting room had appointments for the exact same time we did!  When we left four others were still waiting…

I am blessed to have an obstetrician and a dermatologist with super offices, where calls are returned, offices are clean and wait times are nominal.  Mutual respect goes a loooong way in my book.  I continue to search for a GP (and a new cardiologist after I get through this next procedure) and am hopeful to find a good one.

Perhaps I could start a business, consulting with doctors about how to improve the office experience for their patience.  Hmmmm….


Good Enough

Kate at One More Thing is doing a weekly carnival of sorts, choosing a topic for other bloggers to write about.  This week’s topic is “High School”.

High school.

Not my favorite  four years.   Sure, I had some fun.  And I had some good friends, many of whom went to other schools.

But what I had more of was a great lack of confidence, a mentally ill mother,  a decided lack of money, and some really bad perms.  And, worst of all, I was not who I wanted to be.

Still, it was what it was.  And what I can say now, twenty-five years later, is that I wish I had gotten out of my own way enough to really participate with some of the other people there, to be that person I wanted to be.  No horrible longing for what could have been, but just darn!  Opportunities missed.

College, on the other hand, was a complete and total blast!  I met some of my best, lifelong friends there.  I even married one.  And another is Son’s godfather.  That is where I became the person I’d always wanted to be.

Good enough.

Deal of the Day August 26, 2009 – Free Hallmark Card!

Walmart often offers great free samples.  I bookmark the page and  check back periodically.

The latest is a free card from Hallmark.  Just click  here to sign up!

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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Deal of the Day August 25, 2009 – Free Prevention Magazine and Pedometer

This one showed in my email today.

Get a free issue of Prevention magazine plus a free pedometer.  They are also offering a year’s subscription for just $12 plus delivery.  Click here to sign up, but if you don’t want the full subscription you’ll have to cancel after you receive the trial issue.  You  still get to keep the pedometer, though!

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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Deal of the Day August 24, 2009 – Free Chik-fil-A again!

I already posted about Chik-fil-A’s upcoming giveaway on September 7th.  Now they are offering a coupon for a free Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich to first 250,000 people who register. Next 750,000 people to register will receive a coupon for a free Coke Zero (redeemable at Chick-Fil-A restaurants).

I love Chik-fil-A.  Their food is awesome, their restaurants are always clean, the service is excellent (what other fast food restaurant’s workers come around the tables and ask if  you’d like a drink refill???!!!).

And they have great giveaways!

Who Pays for Dinner? The Long Answer…

Kate, at One More Thing, wrote a post asking about who pays when you go out with friends.  I started to leave a comment, but my response got so long I moved it here.  It rambles, but whatever.

Kate asked, “Is it always separate checks, each man for himself, or is the bill carefully split in equal amounts regardless of whether you got a salad or lobster? Or does one person pay, with the understanding that, next time, it’ll be someone else’s turn?”

Generally, I want to split the bill based on what’s been ordered – kind of a hybrid of  Kate’s first two choices (I don’t like nor think it’s necessary to ask for separate checks).   It’s just not fair for me to pay $30 for an early bird special and a Diet Coke, when others have had 3 chocolate martinis and the lobster thermidor, nor vice versa.   And don’t even get me started on people who don’t factor in tax and tip!

And  speaking of tips… I remember one time I went to a very fancy restaurant with several people.  The meal and the service were both so terrific my friend asked to see the chef to give his personal thanks.  When the check came we each paid what we owed, and this friend was the keeper of the money.  I noticed that on a $200 check he left only $20!!  This for the “best meal of my life”!  So I slipped another $20 onto the table when he wasn’t  looking.

I can’t help feeling a bit resentful when I come out on the short end of the split-equally stick, as I’ve always ordered with my wallet and waistline in mind, never ordering appetizers or desserts.  Being stuck happened more often when I was single, as Husband rarely holds back ordering what he wants no matter the cost.   But it still happens occasionally.

Of course we don’t split based on what’s ordered all the time – it really depends on who we’re with. And in cases where the bill is split equally (like when we get a very large group going to Buca di Beppo) I have no problem with requesting that the bar bill be separated out.  I don’t drink (not for any reason other than I just don’t like alcohol – except for perhaps a rum runner while sitting on the beach in some exotic locale), and I don’t want to pay for yours.

Other times, for example with certain good friends, we have the same casual alternating scenario Kate described, where we alternate who picks up the check without keeping score.  It’s stress-free and easy and lovely.

And still other times there is no way on G-d’s green earth I’m allowing them to pay – like when I take Husband’s 96 year-old grandmother to lunch.   Or after my father just spent more for 2 pairs of shoes for Son than I’d spend on 6 pair of my own.

My father’s who-pays rules are interesting, too.  In his circle whomever invites, pays.  There is a required reach for the wallet for all of the gentlemen in attendance,  quickly brushed aside.  He also considers it his duty to pay for most of our family meals.  He does let me pay every once in awhile even when shoes are not  involved.

The only one that really causes stress for me is the out-of-town guest scenario.  Some people believe that guests should pay for nothing, others that out-of-towners are no different than in-towners and should follow regular social rules.  I never know what to do in these situations.  I’d gladly play by the rules if only I knew them!

Several years ago Husband and I went to stay a weekend with friends of ours on the other coast of Florida.  Not only did they insist on paying for most of our meals, they bought and would not accept reimbursement for tickets to Cirque de Soleil.  It was very generous, and it made me a little uncomfortable.  In this case (and others since) I sent a commensurate (not dollar for dollar, necessarily, but not a $10 trinket, either) gift upon my return home.  Otherwise I feared I might get a permanent tic.  It’s not that I can’t accept the generosity of others.  I think I need to acknowledge that generosity.  And, I don’t think inviting someone to spend time with you should put anyone in the poorhouse.

When I go to visit for an extended period with family, I always buy groceries, try to keep our area clean, and generally try to make myself useful.  Basically be the best guest I can be.  And certainly be the antithesis of extended family that once came to stay with my Dad, whose habits  (eating everything in sight, being slovenly, expecting all meals  and entertainment to be provided at no cost to them) earned them the nickname “the Griswalds”, and no return invitation.

So, that’s it.  Some may think me petty for begrudging paying an extra $2o for someone else’s booze.  But the way I look at it those evenly split checks don’t ever even out in the end for me.  It makes me a bit resentful – something I don’t want to feel after a night out with people I like.

So, please, let’s get together.  Let’s have a wonderful meal, and laugh and get a little too loud occasionally.  And when the check comes, be safe knowing that I will pay my share, you pay for your Fuzzy Navel, and I won’t stiff you on the tax and tip.

Deal of the Day August 23, 2009 – Free Marie Claire Magazine Subscription

Rewards Gold is offering a free three year subscription to Marie Claire Magazine. This offer is available to the US and Puerto Rico.

I don’t read the magazines I already get (Except for Real Simple!), but I’ve never seen a free 3 year subscription before!

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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Linklet Lackadasically Late

I entered a couple of carnivals this week…

The Carnival of Personal Finance was hosted at Budgets Are Sexy.  My post Using What You Have – Landscaping the Yard was included.

There are tons of great posts. Check out:

I also entered The Festival of Frugality, hosted at Frugal Upstate and included my post  Wise Spending on Landscaping ? What to Hire, What to Do Ourselves.

Be sure to check out:

Special thanks to all of the carnival editors for putting on two top-rate events!

Deal of the Day August 22, 2009 – Ann Taylor $20 off $20 coupon

A friend of mine used to work for Ann Taylor, and she forwarded me a copy of an email she received about a great deal going on at Ann Taylor this weekend.

You can  save $20 on a $20 purchase today  (Saturday) only.  This counts only for full-priced merchandise – no clearance. That said, there is no minimum purchase, so perhaps you can find a T-shirt, some accessories, or get a few dollars off a killer skirt you’ve had your eye on.

Someday I hope to be a grownup and shop at Ann Taylor.

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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Deal of the Day August 21, 2009 – More Free Chocolate

This comes at an auspicious time.  Ahem.

It’s Friday, so it’s time for more  free chocolate, courtesy of Mars candy. Go here to sign up for yours.  And put it on your calendar to go back and order another one every Friday between now and September 25, 2009!!!

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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