Medical Experience Underwhelming

by Larry Emmott on January 3, 2007

in General

Over the Holidays I had occasion to partake of our medical system and I was underwhelmed, to say the least. I was scheduled for a minor but invasive screening examination which involved the introduction of an endoscopic probe in a rather personal place.

The physician showed up well over an hour late to start the procedure. He tossed off a casual hi there sorry to keep you waiting, but by then I was feeling abused and neglected and let him know that I was not in any way happy to be kept waiting more than an hour. He seemed completely shocked that anyone would challenge him in such a manner. In retrospect I admit it may have been foolish for me to rile him up as he was about to insert something into my body.

However, rather than apologize for being so late and acknowledge my displeasure he decided I needed to know just how busy and important he was. I actually told him I didn’t want to hear it but he told me anyway. He told me how he would enjoy getting home on time but that phone calls and other things always kept him running late. He actually seemed to be proud of this like it proved what a good doctor he was. My thought was if you are always late that isn’t a sign of being a good doctor it is a sign of being a very poor time manager. I am sure he thought there was nothing he could do about it. In fact I believe he could do a lot about it if he really wanted to. 

This next part is really precious. In the middle of telling me how busy and important he was he assured me that they would do excellent work. My immediate thought was, why should I believe that? What have you done to demonstrate excellence in any way? As I considered my experience so far the fact was they had not demonstrated excellence but mediocrity. You also told me you’d see me more than an hour ago, you failed to do that, why should I believe you now when you tell me you’ll do a good job?

The hour late and the arrogant response was just one step in what in retrospect was a series of encounters that demonstrated both mediocrity and disrespect for me as a human being. Prior to the procedure I was given several pages of instructions that were poorly copied at an angle on the page and actually speckled like an old overused mimeograph. I was never told what the fee was for the procedure. However I did sign several forms (also overcopied and speckled) in which I agreed to pay the fee (whatever it might be) however no one knew what if anything my insurance might pay.

There was more, a lot more, like having to tell the staff what I was there for, having to repeat the same questionnaire multiple times, like no one ever communicated with each other. Any other business that treated customers like this would be out of business.

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