Monday, March 07, 2005

Rant of the Day - Doctor Visits

Ethan had a doctor appointment this morning. He has so many specialists that we usually have at least one appointment a week, sometimes more. A few times we had 3 appointments in one day. That was a nightmare that we won't be repeating.

My experience with bringing Ethan to the doctor has made me despise the medical field. Today's visit was one of the highlights of that hatred. It brought up a lot of questions I'd like answered....

Why is it acceptable for the doctor to make us wait for an hour and a half past our appointment time?

Our appointment was at 8:50. We were not called into the office until 10:00. And that was only to see the nurse to have Ethan's height and weight taken. We were then put into a visit room to wait for the doctor. For another fifteen minutes.

We were once made to wait 2 hours to see a doctor. When we were finally seen, the doctor prefaced the visit with, "We have to make this quick, I have somewhere to be." Well, pardon me and my handicapped child for holding you up from your golf game!! He may have been going somewhere legitimate or medical-related, but still. THINK before you speak to a tired mother and her hungry son who has now missed lunch waiting for you.

I understand doctors run behind. But an apology, a simple explanation... hell, even acknowledgement of the fact that I have been sitting in your waiting room with a 3 year old for over an hour would be nice. But they just pretend they don't know what time it is. They don't even have clocks in the waiting room for just that reason.

By the way, the ACTUAL appointment? Seven minutes long. We waited an hour and a half to spend seven minutes with the doctor. It was your typical follow up where nothing happened except we got a prescription refill. Couldn't I do that over the phone? Oh, no wait. Then they couldn't bill me three hundred dollars for those seven minutes.

But at the same time...

Why am I treated as a horrible person if I am running late?

Yes, I was 10 minutes late for the appointment. So sue me. Of course the nurse at the desk sighed and gave me attitude. Then our patient sheet was branded with a giant capitalized "LATE!" on the top. After I saw how long we waited, I wondered why they cared that I was late at all? I would not have been seen at our scheduled time anyway!

And where is my red pen to mark on the sheet that the DOCTOR was late??

And really...

Why was the waiting room temperature set close to 90 degrees?

I swear. It was so hot the kids were sweating in there. I had to take Ethan's coat off, and he is always cold. I think they want you to be so doped up you are too tired to complain.

But I will complain about this...

Why don't medical staff ever read your chart before seeing you?

I mean, we were there for an hour and a half. Do me a favor. Tack on three minutes to read his chart. Learn who my son is and what his issues are before you see us and start saying stupid things.

This goes to both the nurses and the doctors. The nurse who took his weight asked me if he was sleeping. AGAIN. I've seen her three times and she asks me this every time. And every time I have to explain, no, he is not sleeping. He is BLIND. If she read the chart, she would note this. Maybe she could even put a star next to it or something to remind herself next time. When the woman at the mall asks me if he is sleeping, it is innocent ignorance. When someone in the medical field asks me that? It really pisses me off.

And the doctor isn't exempt. Why did he think my son had a g-tube for feeding? Because he didn't read the chart. If he had, he would have seen the giant note where the last doctor decided he did not need one. Clearly, he hadn't even cracked the chart before walking in. And then he only spent 7 minutes with us. Interesting.


Why are nurses among the meanest people on earth?

I have run across very few nice ones. Never mind compassionate. The mean nurse at the desk is just one example. Most nurses haven't got a kind bone in their body. They see that I'm dealing with a handicapped child. Do they honestly think that our visit to their office is the most important thing I've got going in my day? Getting him dressed, fed, medicated, and transported to his appointments is a bit stressful. Being only 10 minutes late for their little follow-up is a success if you ask me.

Isn't the whole point of their job to care for people? I think most of them have forgotten that.

As for why I was late...

Why would a medical office building have a parking garage with no elevator access?

The first time we went to this doctor I was alone. It was one of those few appointments Jete couldn't go to. After that, we always made sure he could be there.

There is a sign when you enter the parking garage that says "Handicap Access on ground floor and top floor only". Now, stupid me, but when I think handicap access, I think parking spaces closer to the door that are wide enough to get a wheelchair in and out of. I don't think "stroller access". I guess I should have.

I drove forever and finally got to a floor where every spot wasn't reserved for someone who worked there. I parked, got the stroller out, loaded Ethan up, got the bags, locked the car, and walked to the big "Elevators -> " sign. I opened the door and saw... a set of stairs. One going up, one going down. HUH? Couple of things...

  • Shouldn't the sign at the door say "Stairs" instead of "Elevator"? Honestly.

  • At the entrance, the "Handicapped Access" sign is really code for elevators. Why can't they just say that? And why is the sign so damn small?

  • And furthermore...Why is there no elevator access? The ground floor has 5 spots that are all handicapped only and always taken. The roof is the only other option. Isn't this a medical office building? The majority of visitors are elderly people (i.e. walkers and wheelchairs) and children (i.e. STROLLERS). Don't you think they could have built some ramps or something??
At our first visit, I had to load Ethan back into his car seat and drive to the top floor and start all over again. I knew better at my visit yesterday, but I still had to navigate in the garage for over 5 minutes. Once I parked, I had to get his stroller into the building. There is a steel door there that is pretty difficult to maneuver while pushing a stroller. (And come on, is it really considered "handicapped accessible" if you have to open a steel door to get into the building anyway?)

I guess my point is...

Why does it have to be a miserable experience?

I know we are not unique. The same things would happen to any mother, whether their child had special needs or not, or any other patient. I just think it is horrible that medical visits are like this. You usually go to the doctor because you are sick, and often, scared and worried. Why should you have to deal with all this other crap? It doesn't have to be like that.

You would think people in the business of healing would try to make the experience less stressful.

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