Time to Find a New Doctor

I like my doctor. She listens well, doesn’t talk down to me, and is no nonsense. If something isn’t worth doing anything about, she’ll say so. If something needs doing, she does it. But I’m dumping her and looking for a new primary care physician, because nobody answers the phone at her office.

A couple of years ago her office shifted to a system where you call and leave a message, then they call you back to schedule a visit. Sometimes you call at 8:30 in the morning and they don’t call you back until midafternoon. I can’t imagine how this actually saves them time and money, since it means they often end up playing phone tag. All I know is that it’s extremely patient unfriendly, so I’ve been thinking for a while about leaving.

Then came this past Monday, when they didn’t even call me back. Still haven’t. And this is no minor issue. I needed to come in for treatment for asthma. Asthma usually gets you treated quickly, because lack of oxygen can lead to some pretty serious outcomes. As the emergency room physician at San Francisco General told me back in 1990, “Of course you almost died; you couldn’t breathe!” So, no return call Monday, no treatment, and so I ended up in the emergency room that evening, struggling to breathe.

Dr. Jody Rhames, of Adrian, Michigan, is a fine physician. But she runs a very patient unfriendly business, and she’s no damn use to me if I’m struggling to breathe and her staff doesn’t call me back.

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About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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6 Responses to Time to Find a New Doctor

  1. Dr X says:

    Not your point, but no EpiPen? I haven’t had an asthma attack in about ten years, but when I was younger I had an array of allergies that triggered them and many trips to the hospital before the advent of the epipen.

  2. Dr X says:

    To the substance of your post, not returning phone calls is not okay. I wonder if your doc is aware that calls aren’t being returned. You might do her the favor of telling her.

  3. J@m3z Aitch says:

    No, I’ve never had an EpiPen. Now that I’m seeing a pulmonologist, maybe that will be a next step.

    Oh, I’ll be letting my ex-doctor know.

    You know, it’s entirely possible that amidst my weazing they couldn’t understand me well enough to take down my information. I don’t think so, because I am able to speak clearly, with care, but I’ll admit it’s possible. But that demonstrates the huge flaw in their system of not answering the phone. And the message explicitly says not to call multiple times so you don’t clog down the system. So if I fail to make myself understood, there’s no way for them to say, “I’m sorry, could you repeat that.” It’s a system that’s set up for exactly this kind of failure–failing those who are in most desperate need, and dealing well with those whose needs are far less urgent.

  4. lancifer666 says:

    Hey James,

    Remember the mishap that be-“fell” you the day I arrived to help fix your sill plate and siding?

    Well guess what happened to me about two hours ago?

    Yes, I was on a ladder painting the fish scale shingles on the second story gable of my home when a thoughtful neighbor walking by said “Wow, that looks dangerous, please be careful.”

    I of course responded, “I have used this ladder in this same way for the last twenty years so I think I’ll be OK, but thanks for your concern.”

    Ten minutes later I jerked the ladder sideways to pull out the masking tape and paper it was up against and…

    Swip! Slip! Blam!

    I was headed down towards the porch roof, the same area where you and I had been on replacing siding. The ladder scraped and careened downward while my life (and lack of health insurance) flashed before my eyes.

    Luckily, I think I suffered roughly the same injuries that you incurred from your similar mishap; bashed shins, jammed wrist and shoulder, and general bruises and scrapes.

    I thank the Victorian house gods that I wasn’t injured more severely.

  5. lancifer666 says:

    Also, a short but interesting article by Robert Shiller, in the Guardian of all places, about whether Economics is a science.

    http://www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2013/nov/06/is-economics-a-science-robert-shiller

  6. lancifer666 says:

    Oh, and a belated condolences on Oregon’s loss to Stanford.

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