How do you handle rude nurses and doctors?

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Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 186
   Posted 11/14/2007 9:16 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello.  I hope that everyone is having as pain-free a day as possible.
Can I get some feedback on how I should handle a nurse from my doctor's office that was very rude and insensitive to me earlier in the week?  I'd appreciate any feedback on how you've handled rude doctors and nurses in your own life as well.
My regular doctor is out because he just had surgery.  I have severe abdominal and pelvic pain due to hydronephrosis, endometriosis, and partial bowel obstructions.  I take Lortab and Percocet for the pain, and my doctor has been following the recommendations of a respected pain management team.  He gives me a set amount of pills each month.  (This pain management team only gives advice and doesn't actually prescribe the meds.)
Last week, I called to get the Percocet prescription, and a day later, the doctor's nurse called back and said that it was ready.  I picked it up and then noticed that my doctor's associate had only written for half the amount.  I called the office back and left a message, asking if the doctor would write for the remaining quantity.  I explained that my pain is hard to control even with the full amount of Percocet, so I needed to get the entire amount.
The nurse called back the following day and was very snippy.  She told me that the doctor had underlined the lower quantity in my chart and that she was certain he would not write for more.  I asked if she would ask him, and she hung up on me.
The next day, I called back once more and repeated that I needed the remaining quantity of medicine.  I told them that I could get the pain management doctors to call and remind the office of the set amount.  Later, the same nurse called me back one last time and was absolutely nasty.  She shouted into the phone, "You have more than enough to manage your pain.  This is absurd.  He is not writing for any more because you do not need it."  Then, she raised her voice even more and shouted, "Don't you dare call back here again," and she hung the phone up with a bang.
I started crying right away.  My pain is very real, and I do not take a huge amount of medicine.  The doctor and his nurse treated me like a drug seeker, which is the farthest thing from the truth.  I have a huge amount of respect for these meds and do not abuse them.
My pain ended up becoming very severe as a result of not having enough meds to control it.  It was so bad that I thought something in me had exploded.  I almost went to an ER, but the cost kept me from actually going in.  I don't have the extra money to pay for that now.  So, for the most part, I curled up and lived through the pain.  It was horrible.
Now, I'm wondering if I should say or write something to this nurse and doctor.  I don't appreciate being talked to that way.  Do any of you have any suggestions?  When my regular doctor gets back, I'm going to let him listen to that nurse's final message so that he can realize how nasty she was. 
These health professionals need to realize how powerful words can be.  They can't judge their patients like that because they haven't been in their shoes.
Take care, everyone.  Best wishes to each of you.  Thanks in advance for your input.
"The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision."  Helen Keller

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Date Joined Feb 2003
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   Posted 11/14/2007 9:26 PM (GMT -6)   
Oh dear, that is totally unprofessional. I would write that dr a certified return receipt letter and explain how your dr prescibes this medication every month with a pain dr on board for consulting by phone. I would then repeat word for word what nurse rachet said to you. I would tell him she was not only rude but very unprofessional. He may be aware of your follow-up calls and he may not.

By any chance is your dr is coming back soon and thats why he wrote a half script? Was he only covering for the days your dr will actually be out. Susie

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
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   Posted 11/14/2007 9:38 PM (GMT -6)   

Thanks for your reply, Straydog.

No, my doctor will not be coming back soon.  I'm given this set amount once a month, and I'm always given it around the same time each month.  This particular doctor is paranoid about prescribing narcotics, and I'm sure that he played some part in what that nurse said to me. 

I understand that doctors are worried about the DEA coming after them, but it's not right that their fears are being taken out on the patients that rely  on these meds to control their severe pain.

At one point, I even talked to the office manager, and even though she wasn't as rude as the nurse, she was equally as difficult. 
"The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision."  Helen Keller

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   Posted 11/14/2007 9:53 PM (GMT -6)   
Luv, can you call & get an apt with the pain dr? Take your bottles as proof of what the dr wrote and see if he would be willing to help you until your dr is back in the office. I would get a print-out from the pharmacy also that shows the amts your doc prescribes. Susie

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 186
   Posted 11/15/2007 1:37 AM (GMT -6)   

Thanks again for the reply and the suggestion, straydog.

I'm now brainstorming and trying to figure out how to get my meds until my doctor gets back.  The pain clinic is out of state, so they can't write scripts for me in my state.  My doctor's associates really should take over the care of his patients while he is gone.  If they don't want to prescribe the meds, then I just wish that they'd suggest or refer me to another doctor that is more comfortable scripting the pain meds.

Before my doctor left, he told me that his associate was going to write for the meds.  For whatever reason though, his associate decided otherwise.  It's so frustrating.  To top things off, my doctor's associates absolutely refuse to call him and ask how he wants his patients taken care of.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do about future refills.  Maybe I can get suggestions from the pain clinic, even though they can't actually prescribe the meds to me.

Even though I have been in tremendous physical pain, I was equally hurt in a different way by the way the nurse treated me.  Her rudeness and callousness was completely uncalled for.  I've been a patient of this practice for many years, and I've always been considerate of the staff and doctors.  In the last two months though, this practice has lost several nurses and hired replacements.  The one that I encountered is one of the replacements.

I can't get her last phone message out of my head.  I know that I need to just forget about her, and with time, I'm sure that I will.  What really bugs me though is that she is very likely to treat other patients like she treated me.  I seriously doubt that I'm not the only person that has been talked to like that.

I've thought about writing this nurse a letter and keeping the tone as non-confrontational as possible.  I'd like to tell her, "Let's both learn something from this horrible situation.  I've learned to not ask for any more pain meds from you or this other doctor.  Similarly, I ask that you learn that words can be very powerful.  Instead of telling someone to never call again, it may be more effective to just tell that person that there is nothing else that can be done by this doctor.  Encourage the patient to visit an urgent care if the pain gets out of hand, and, please at least validate that you realize the patient's pain is real.  Keep the tone of your voice as pleasant and calm as possible.  Please consider these suggestions because I don't want another patient to feel as diminished as I felt earlier this week when you talked to me and left me your last phone message."

Do any of you have any thoughts about whether or not this nurse and/or doctor would benefit from receiving such a letter?  Have any of you ever written letters to any health care providers that treated you rudely?

Thanks again for your feedback.  Best wishes to each of you.


"The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision."  Helen Keller

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 92
   Posted 11/15/2007 8:27 AM (GMT -6)   
If you have insurance and this provider is in network, you should be able to call your patient advocate and let them know about this issue. They will then do a investigation which if nothing else will put up a flag for other potential issues. You can also file a complaint with the Office of the Professions here: . There is no need for how some of us get treated. Any chance your PM doc would be able to refer to someone else? Sometimes even if out of state docs know other good doctors. Good luck

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
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   Posted 11/15/2007 12:14 PM (GMT -6)   

No . 1  always always look at the script before you leave the drs office.

I would contact the office manager and ask to come in and see him or her . Tell you have a complaint and want to come in . Do not do it over the phone . Go in and file the complaint and request a written answer to the complaint and it that doesnt satisfy you ask then who is next in change of command and continue up the ladder till you get some satisfaction.  

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Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 58
   Posted 11/15/2007 3:50 PM (GMT -6)   
Is yours a workers comp injury? I also faced a similar incident at my pain clinic. I thought a certain nurse was going to have me put in jail. The doc at the pain clinic prescribed the same meds as my spine doc had prescribed. Once I ran out I just finished what was left from spine doc then went to the pain clinic for the refill which was over the thirty days. BIG NO NO! I thought I was going to get the water drip or other torture for making this innocent mistake. I apologize for mu ignorance and assured her that it would never happen again. The nurse was like a dog with a bone and wouldn't let go of the issue. Without my docs consent she called my pharmacy and had all my meds froze. I felt humiliated when I went to the pharm for my refills. I called my case manager and the owner operator of the pain clinic and expressed my disbelief. My case manager made some nasty calls of her own and pain clinic owner apologized and told me to bring any questions directly to him in the future. I also had a bad confrontation with the nurse and expressed myself to where she could understand it. Stand up for yourself because pain clinics do tend to stereotype. Since we all came to a understanding I no longer have to deal with the wicked nurse and all is well. They are a huge help to me now and for that I am very grateful for that. Stay strong and don't give in to the pain!

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 22
   Posted 11/15/2007 3:57 PM (GMT -6)   
I am sorry for your treatment! Nurses have no right to label. I have to say that it is almost like diagnosing without a license! They should be fired!
Age 3 fell on my knee.  I have Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis in all my joints, Patellar-Femoral Syndrome, GERD, noticable breakdown in hips

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2006
Total Posts : 275
   Posted 11/15/2007 5:47 PM (GMT -6)   

I am so sorry you were treated that way.  There is no excuse for that and I would definately either write a letter or try to speak with someone in person.  It always goes better when you talk in person. 

I had a similiar problem with a nurse, and it was only for a muscle relaxer.  The one I was on was too strong and I called and left a message that I needed him to call me in something different.  I got home to a snippity message that he will no longer be prescribing theses for me and I need to call my PM if I want them.  I got on the phone immediately and was trying to tell her the situation.  She yelled at me then preceded to hang up on me.  NOT acceptable! I then got in my car and drove to the office and asked to speak to her.  I told her that it was uncalled for the way she spoke to me and that I would not put up with it.  I asked to speak with the doctor immediately.  They tried to pull the since you don't have an appointment and he's very busy, go have a seat and he will get to you as soon as possible.  UN-UH I want to see him now!  They put me in a room and I saw him relatively shortly and he said he didn't even get the request.  So,I said she lied.  Well it turned out she has been with him forever and he tried to make nice and said she can get really cranky and blah blah blah.  He gave me the script no problem and I said I wanted an apology.  She did give me one and now we are fine, not best friends but she's cordial with me.

I hope you get your full script for meds.  It sounds like your doc is going to be out for awhile.  I wish you the best


Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 6927
   Posted 11/15/2007 8:03 PM (GMT -6)   
The words "Are you refusing to treat?' helped me alot.
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New Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 11/19/2007 11:46 PM (GMT -6)   
I am sorry about how that person behaved to you on the phone. I swear that some people really shouldn't be nurses. Is there another staff in his office you can speak to if this staff member is unbearable? Also, I would speak with the physician next time I go about the experience. Remember you are paying him a lot of money for services and he is unable to supply them to fulfill your needs, go to another physician who will. No one deserves to be treated poorly by staff who act like that. Remember, they are there to SERVE YOU.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2003
Total Posts : 924
   Posted 11/23/2007 4:13 PM (GMT -6)   
Maybe this would help you to understand more clearly--Have you asked to speak to the doctor directly? Leave a message with the receptionist, tell her you do not wish to speak to the nurse--you need to speak to the dr. directly. Explain to the dr. how your dr. has been treating your pain and ask him outright if he has a problem with this. If he does, I would probably look for another dr. When your regular dr. returns, I would make him aware of the situation and how rude this nurse was to you. They may be unaware of the way she speaks to people, in fact, if she was so darn sure of herself she should have exhibited some manners and had the dr. call you back with an explanation or reason for what he wrote.

Sometimes they have their own rules in the office--if I call in for a prescription for something I take routinely, they will usually write only to cover until my next appointment. But the only way you can be sure there hasn't been a mixed communication is to speak to that particular dr. I would do this calmly, and try to take notes as to what he says to you in the event you have to tell this also to your dr. I go to a dr. that is in a group practice and I think the world of her. There is one dr. in that group that I have had on two occaisions when she wasn't there and I would rather suffer then ever seeing him again. He was just plain nasty.

It's not fair for anyone in pain to have to deal with such attitudes--especially since you have a pain clinic collaborating with your dr. I hope you can get this straightened out very soon but I would concentrate on doing that before doing battle with this nurse. I'm not saying never, but she isn't worth the upset that she is causing you right now. Best of luck to you!

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   Posted 11/24/2007 11:01 AM (GMT -6)   
If the receptionist doesn't give the doctor the message, I'd go to the office, with the information that the pain management group provided and camp out there until I could see the associate. As someone said, take the printout for the entire year from your pharmacy, too. Explain the situation. Lastly, I'd let him know how rudely you were treated and, when your doctor does return, let him know too. Having chronic pain causes enough problems. Being treated nastily only will increase the pain. The nurse should be kept in their filing department...out of the reach of real people!

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New Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 11/24/2007 11:40 AM (GMT -6)   
i had this happen to me once. my doctor had to be away for a time. the Equus asinus that covered for him took it on his own to change all my medication. messed me up bad. well i complained, and my doctor said that it is writen in file that i requested this change. i convenced him this was wrong. this Equus asinus no longer works for my doctor. then i had this run in with a nurse at that office, we believe she was upset that her favorate Equus asinus was now gone. well i spoke to my doctor about what she said to me, and how i was treated, and told him there is patiants in here that could varifie what i said to him about her. to beat it all she was so proud of what she said to me, and how she treated me, that she repeated word for word, to the doctor. well needless to say, she no longer works there either. i have found that if you have a complaint, complain politely, and it will go far. my doctors feel the first half of treatment to a patient starts at the front desk. so i advise to speak with your doctor of this. if he is any good, he will fix the problem. good luck, take care of yourself, my prayers are with all.

Post Edited By Moderator (Ides) : 11/24/2007 3:04:54 PM (GMT-7)

Elite Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
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   Posted 11/24/2007 1:32 PM (GMT -6)   
Well said Sherrine .........

I have had only one instance where I was treated like crud and I did tell doc and it was straightened out are the patient and as such need not recieve this type of tx from anyone ......IMHO
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Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2007
Total Posts : 55
   Posted 11/25/2007 6:58 AM (GMT -6)   
oooh, this burns me up!

I am an office manager of a surgical practice and I live on both sides of the fence: I am a chronic pain sufferer and a medical professional.

1. The phrase "are you refusing to treat me?" is VERY EFFECTIVE. Keep using it. And ask him to detail HOW you should be managing your level 7 and up pain. Does he recommend acupuncture, suicide...give him a good idea of what options you are facing. And record the conversation. A small recorder allows you two to have a conversation and for you to keep your whits about you.
2. If you can go to the office, set up a "consultation" meeting. And don't let that doctor out of the room until he's very clear about your pain levels.
3. Find a direct pain specialist and a backup doc. Let them know why you are finding them.

There are physicians who are afraid of narcotics. I had one Gyn tell me to control my raging endometriosis by "going vegan." I walked out of her office in wracking spasms of tears, I felt so...negated. So, I mention her by name - Dr. Felecia Dawson of Atlanta Georgia - to everyone I meet. She's a quack and I call her so.

4. Write a certified letter and...
5. Here is the bootlicker, file a professional complaint with BBB, your insurer, national association your physician is affiliated with using the NURSE and the PHYSiCIAN's NPI and UPIN.

This crapola happens all the time. I was postop with a superpubic catheter that was leaking, burning the flesh off my body and my doc's associate said "well, i'm not your doc and i'm not going to read your chart so just go home and see him next week." It was July 4th weekend. Thankfully, I had a team of surgeons and I paged my lead surgeon and I filed a formal complaint against the associate. Turns out, he treats all of his senior associates' patients that way: He's LAZY.

Finally and this is drastic, but you can do it respectfully, google your docs home address. Yes, he's recovering right now and he left you in the care of another in good faith. That faith is being betrayed and your health is hanging in the balance. Write him a letter at home. Let him know you understand this is crossing the line but you haven't been able to find any other recourse. Detail for him what you have been through and ask him to refer you to someone else who is more comfortable dealing with patients with chronic pain.

Do your own research. At the end of the day, how much more of these people can you take? File your formal complaint and find a doc who gives a ats-rass about you. Do not accept suffering because of their ignorance.
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