What Pisses Me Off: An open letter to my doctor

My last blog (What Pisses Me Off: The doctor’s waiting room) has created a bit of a stir. Comments have ranged from support to admonishment. My favorite was the disgruntled reader who reproached me for being selfish with “Mimi – pronounced ME-ME!”

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While I poked some fun at the situation, there is a serious problem here! As a nurse, I have empathy with colleagues in busy practices. With all the regulations, requirements, and ever-decreasing reimbursement it is amazing that they choose to remain in the profession at all.

I am not an overly impatient person. In younger childbearing years, I never complained about the wait at my obstetrician’s office. The stork arrives at inopportune times. As a young parent, I did not grumble about the waits for the pediatrician. Heck, most of the parents there had called in because their child was ill during the night – just like me.

But I do object to wait times that can be mitigated or avoided, so…

Dear Doctor,

I am attempting to incite a revolution due to lengthy office waits. I am encouraging others to take my lead and just say NO.

Encouraging your patients to abandon their visit as a form of protest is easy. But what does that really do to you? Nothing – short of losing an insurance payment and co-pay.

What is not easy is actually getting them to do it, because it means one of 3 things. Your patient:

  1. reschedules and rolls the dice on wait time at the rescheduled visit;
  2. finds another doctor with patient-friendly systems; or
  3. forgoes their medical issue.

The result? Patients are unhappy, deserting your practice, or ignoring health concerns. You do not wish to see any of these results.

No one would have a real issue with you attending to an emergency. But how can your patients be patient if no one tells them? Communicate!

No one would really be opposed to you taking time to have a short friendly chat, to explain tests, to hold a hand after a tough diagnosis is given. In fact, I applaud and give you a standing ovation! But, instruct your scheduler to be mindful. Add time to visits with elderly patients, with friends who are also patients, and when you know you have some hard news to dispense.

Don’t insult your patients with warning signs of impending fees if your patient is late or cancels, unless you have no issue with receiving bills from your patients when you are late, or cancel.

Apologise when late. Your patients might be fuming when you arrive, but you would be amazed how a sincere regretful acknowledgement will change the tone of the visit.

Own up to your practice patterns. Always arriving late? Don’t have patients scheduled before you have time to get in and get settled. Routinely run late? Don’t schedule patients back-to-back. Please, don’t double book. When has that ever worked?

I know you must be flexible and allow ill patients to be “worked in”, so have some available quiet moments on your schedule, especially during cold/flu season. When patients arrive coughing, sneezing, and potentially infectious, please escort them to another comfortable room to sit while you work them in – or you risk having more of your patients arriving that way!

I know you have my phone number in the record. Call or text me! Let me know that you are running late. Allow me to decide if sitting in the waiting room is where I want to be.

I respect you as my doctor. I ask for the same respect as your patient.

Sincerely,

Me

 

If you could write a letter to your doctor, what would it say?