Posted 3/23/2009 1:51 PM (GMT -6)
Background: Was in a car accident 1/8. This impacted my sciatica nerve. Has caused lots of foot pain since then. The only treatment is time. Hopefully the nerves grow back, but they grow slowly.
I was supposed to meet with a pain management specialist yesterday. This appointment had been made 2/5 or so. More than a month to get in. MY PCP knew of this appointment and told me that the prescription I got from him would be the last. He was turning any prescriptions for pain over to the pain management Dr and any prescriptions for nerve stuff to the neurosurgeon I have. I arrive there 15 minutes early. I know that there are usually massive amounts of paperwork, it's better to check in and show that you are ready and excited about treatment.
The receptionist says to me, "Do you have your paperwork?"
"What paperwork?" I reply?
"The paperwork we sent to you."
I am now confused. "I have not seen any paperwork from your office. I have not had any communication with you, since the referral was created and the nurse called your office."
The office manager walks over. "Well, the computer system says that we sent it to you on February 26."
I sigh. "OK, I never saw it. But, that's why I came early, can I have the paperwork and fill it out before I meet the doctor?"
"Oh no," she says. "We won't see anyone without the paperwork completed. Can we reschedule you?"
"Umm, I've been waiting for these appointment for more than a month. Is there any way that I can maybe fill out the paper work now?"
"No," she says. "We can't see you if the paperwork isn't done when you come into the office."
"Did you send it return receipt?" I question. "Is there any record that I received this paperwork? Any record that it made it into the mail?"
"It says it in the computer and we rely on the computer," she states. "If it says we sent it, you should have it now."
"Look, my Dr has said that he won't write me any more prescriptions. That's why I am here. You aren't going to see me without paperwork that I never saw? Seriously?"
With a pained look on her face, she bitterly speaks, "I can reschedule you. We cannot see you without this paperwork. Those are your options. It is our policy not to see a patient who arrives without their paperwork. This is stated in the packet we sent you." (She didn't make the connection that because I never received the paperwork, I never knew about this policy.)
Stunned, I look at her. I wonder, how could someone who works at a pain management office be so uncaring? I wouldn't want to be treated here if it was the last pain management clinic around. "I do not want to reschedule," I tell her. I turn to leave.
My father had made the drive down to see me. He is concerned about how much pain I am in and wants to make sure that I am OK. He was looking forward to this appointment to decide on what a path of treatment could look like. When he came down I was loopy from a heavy dose of Lyrica. I could see that the way I talked was frightening him. It was going to be nice to have a meeting with a doctor who could treat me more effectively than a PCP and it was going to be nice for him to see that I could get better.
I met him at the door of the doctor's office; I was heading out, he was coming in. "What's going on?" he asked.
"They won't see me," I said. "They say I don't have paperwork filled out. I never received the paperwork they sent. But I can't go in."
He is stunned and follows me back to his car. Right as I go to get in all of my troubles fill my mind. I am going to have to go through Opiate withdrawals tonight AND be in a tremendous amount of pain. The only other option is to go to an emergency room where I can sit for several hours, get treated like an addict trying to scam pills and maybe get a script, but feel like less than a human. I won't let that happen without a fight.
I stop halfway into the car and reverse direction (not easy on crutches). I tell my pop, "I am going to go back in there," as I crutch my way back into the entrance.
I pass through the doors and head to the admit window. "Is there an essay?" I question.
"On the paperwork. I can't complete it in the fifteen minutes that I budgeted for exactly this type of problem. Is there an essay on this paperwork that makes it so difficult to complete? That forces a person to complete it at home?" I am speaking forcefully. I am not yelling. I am speaking in the tone of voice that people use when they want answers, when they want the status quo to change.
"Hey, she is just a receptionist. I am the office manager. You can't talk to her that way. She doesn't know what is going on? We won't see you!"
"Ma'am, I cannot get another script from my PCP. If I can't get in to see the doctor I cannot get a prescription for pain. If I don't get a prescription here I am either lying in agony at night or in the Emergency Room. I need help and you won't give it to me," as my voice raises. "You are refusing to see me and you are refusing me care." I have said all that I can. My best efforts to persuade these people are done and I have said all that I can think of to say.
"We will call your doctor and we will get you the paperwork and we will reschedule you," the office manager says icily. "That is all we will do."
"Fine," I say.
"Now please have a seat. You are blocking other patients (no one is behind me)."
"I will stand over here," I inform her. It hurts when I sit.
She shuts the glass of the receptionist window
After 5 minutes or so, someone who was sitting in the waiting room comes to the window. "Sorry man," I say to him.
"No prob bro," he replies. "Feel bad for you."
After another 10 minutes of waiting she comes back with a manila envelope. "I called your doctor, he said to come over (she does not give a time). Here is the paperwork," and she indicates what is in the envelope.
Standing at the window I open the folder to look at the paperwork for the first time. "What are you doing?" she exclaims. "You can't do that here!" Again, no one is behind me.
As I glance through the 17 pages, it quickly becomes clear that 6 or so are information, another 6 are waivers that need to be signed, 3 of the pages require a signature and initials and 2 pages actually require the person to fill something out. "This is what I couldn't fill out in the 15 minutes I specifically arrived early? This should take me 5 minutes tops!"
"Sir, you did not have it done, you cannot do it here, the policy was mailed to you!"
"Sure thing," I say as I walk through the doors for the second time that day.
The rescheduled appointment; April 21.
The most recent rating of the Doctor I was supposed to see on RateMDs.com:
This is the most unprofessional doctor I have ever encountered. He dresses slovenly, has screamed at me in his office during visits, using obscenities, and will take sales reps over client visits, leaving you to wait in the waiting room during your appointment. He over-prescribes narcotics, and then accuses his patients of being addicts, then threatens to cut them off, bringing on withdrawal symptoms. He definitely blames the patient if they fail to respond to medications that he has given. He tends to try to push the drugs from the sales reps that give incentives, regardless of their effect on his patients. Requires an office visit for all prescription refills (as do all doctors) but will then force the patient to go without medication for several days because he refuses to see them. He has mocked patients behind their back, to me, which makes me think he would do the same to me. If you can possibly avoid him, DO SO!!!!
My dad drives me to my PCP's office. There is no parking anywhere near the building, so he waits in the car while I run up to find out exactly when my doctor can see me. it is now 2:45. The entire fiasco, including the 15 minute drive back only lasted 30 minutes past when my appointment should have started. I go to the desk where they inform me that my appointment is at 4pm. Thanks for letting me know.
I go back down and tell my dad that he should probably head home. It's a 1.5 hour drive home for him.
So, I wait for a while and am finally called back to one of the rooms. The nurse comes in to take my blood pressure, pulse and temperature. Not surprising, all were elevated. The Dr comes into the room perhaps five minutes after she leaves.
"What happened at the office today?" he asks me.
"Well," I say. "The office required me to bring in some paperwork that they claimed they sent me. I had not received the paperwork. I had no notice there would be paperwork that I would need to bring in. When the appointment was scheduled by a nurse here, no one told me to watch for communication from their office. Even though I arrived early I couldn't fill out the paperwork and see the doctor. Because of this..."
"Dr O**** called me," he interrupts. "He won't see you again. You threatened and frightened his office staff. This makes me rethink our relationship."
"Wait," I exclaim. "He said what? At no time was a threatening or frightening to anyone. I spoke forcefully, but I was upset. He wouldn't see me. At no time did I act threatening and at no time did I verbally state threats."
"Well," the doctor said as he folded his hands on his belly, "I just know he said that the the staff felt threatened."
"What exactly did he say I did," I questioned.
"He said that you were impolite."
"Huh? I realize I am a law student, not yet a lawyer, but no reasonable person would interpret impolite as threatening. Many people are rude, it would be ridiculous to say they were threatening me," amazed at what he just said.
"They also said that you were unprofessional," the doctor claimed.
"Unprofessional? I was not there in any professional capacity. I was there as a patient. A patient they wouldn't see."
"Yes," said the general practitioner. "He also said that you announced to the waiting room that they refused to treat you."
"I didn't say anything to the waiting room directly," I quickly said, denying his claim. "I said they were refusing me care and refusing to treat me because they were refusing to treat me. I may have said that loudly enough for the waiting room to hear, but I didn't speak directly to the waiting room. The only non-staff person I spoke to was one gentleman who came up to the window. I apologized for being in his way."
Continuing, I questioned, "Did they claim any verbal threats? Did they claim any threatening actions? I am on crutches. I stayed on crutches the entire time I was speaking to someone. Dr. O**** came into the office area twice while this exchange occurred. He also left. If I had been acting in such a threatening manner, why would he leave? Wouldn't he have told me to shut up?"
"I don't know," the doctor responded. "I wish I could have been a fly on the wall. What I do know is that this incident has changed our relationship. Coupled with your lack of sleep, I cannot help you anymore, unless you meet with a Mental Health Professional. I feel that you may be Bi-Polar and/or suffering from Delusions of Grandeur. Insisting on treatment in the way you did is not proper. I will write you a script for a week, which will give you a chance to talk to someone. If you do, I can see you again."
Dumbfounded I pick out the easiest flaw in what he just said, "Doc, even if I do, we are on Spring Break next week. You won't be here."
"Oh, then I guess I will write them for two."
So, I then had to go into his office, call the mental health hotline for the school and set up an appointment for a "Triage Session." Tomorrow morning at 8:30, I can look forward to speaking with someone who will say I have problems even if I don't. Mental health people are like substance abuse people: You either admit that you have a problem or you're either in denial and have a problem.
What a day.