Sunday, January 6, 2013

Doctor, doctor............

Today I went in to the doctor's office for a blood draw. I have to do this periodically to get my thyroid and blood sugar checked. No big deal - it's pretty routine for me. I made my appointment for 10:45 a.m. and arrived five minutes late. Whoops. I checked in and waited about 15 minutes before I was called back. Not bad - but it was just for the lab. When I have an appointment with the doctor, I often wait 30 minutes in the waiting room and another 30 minutes to one hour in the exam room before seeing the doctor. The wait times have increased every year I've been going there - which is almost twenty years now. My husband complains about it all the time and has suggested we change doctors for that reason alone but I've been loyal - so far.

I noticed there were no familiar faces in the lab today. It's Saturday so I just figured that must be the reason. A lab tech named Laura took me back. The first thing I noticed was that she did not smile or greet me at all. I sat down and mentioned that I had "difficult" veins and that we always used a butterfly needle. I know this about myself and I feel it's my right to inform a new person - especially since I have had some pretty awful experiences with having my blood drawn by a new person who has no idea how hard it is to find a vein, and who has spent several minutes digging around for my vein with a full-size needle, resulting in bruising that lasted two weeks. Laura did not seem to care what I had just said to her - she just put the tourniquet on my arm so tightly I had instant pain. Now, I'm no baby when it comes to getting my blood drawn. It doesn't bother me and I can watch and am naturally curious. I certainly have never cared about the tourniquet. But this one was TIGHT! I didn't say anything, figuring it's only on for a short time, but of course, she could not find a vein and proceeded to search the other arm - putting the tourniquet just as tight on that arm! After she switched back to the first arm and tried again, I said "the tourniquet is really tight" to which she replied (in a "duh" voice), "It's supposed to be!"

I let her keep trying to find my vein but the pain from the tourniquet was really bothering me. I said "you know, the tourniquet is really, really tight, I've never had it this tight before" and she snapped it off and said "You want someone else?" I was taken aback and said "No, it's ok, I just don't think the tourniquet should be this tight, it's really painful" and then I remembered a lab tech who always drew my blood well named Anh and I asked if she was there. I got a curt "no". Laura prodded my arm again looking for a vein. She then started looking at my hands and I said "I don't do my hands anymore - they bruise too badly" and she rolled her eyes. I said "That's why I wondered if Anh was here - she always did a really good job, I know my veins are tough" and Laura said "Yeah, well Anh doesn't work here anymore!"  I said "I think we need to get someone else." No way was I going to let her continue with her attitude and rude demeanor. The person who replaced her was very nice and, although she had the same difficulties finding the vein, she patiently found one, and apologized for needing to leave the tourniquet on during the draw. I didn't care because although it was tight, it was not cutting off my circulation like the one Laura did.

However, the new person (I couldn't see her name tag) at first put on a pair of gloves, deemed them "too small" and pulled them off, neglecting to glove up a second time. She just drew my blood with bare hands (more her risk than mine, I guess, but still - ew!) and at one point, she dropped one of my vials on the floor (thank God they are not made of glass anymore!) and just scooped it up. I know the blood inside was sealed off, but again, ew.

On my way out, I asked to speak to the office manager. They told me she would be "right out" so I waited, standing, in the hallway, thinking it would be a minute. I waited and waited and finally was in the way of someone who asked if they could help me. I told them I was waiting for the office manager and the first person who helped me said "she's coming right out" so I sat down to wait. And waited. And waited. Mind you, I had to fast before this blood draw and it was nearing noon at this time and I was starving. I stood up again and said "You know what? I need to go." I was asked if I wanted to leave my name and number but I said no, I would just write a letter.

Which is exactly what I intend to do. I'm so disappointed in my doctor's office and, as a twenty-year patient, I think they should hear why. I haven't wanted to switch doctors, figuring it takes a while to establish a rapport with a new doctor, our doctor knows and treats our whole family, we know several of the other doctors at the clinic, etc. But the truth is, most of the staff we used to know is gone. Every time I go in I see new faces, which means there is a high turnover. Our primary care doctor is almost never available on short notice so we almost always see someone else. And when we do go in for a visit, we are often there for more than two hours when all is said and done. I block out my whole afternoon knowing I might not get out of there in time to do anything else. I've often been waiting anxiously knowing I need to pick up another kid or drive someone somewhere else, and I've scrambled to make other arrangements because the doctor's office has been running so late. And now they have signs around the office saying your appointment is for one reason only and if you have two issues, you need to make another appointment. But who has time for that?

I don't know if writing a letter will change anything but it sure seems like everything has been going downhill. I hate the thought of starting over with a whole new doctor - with six people in my family seeing the same doctor that's a lot of new health issues for a new doctor to learn and understand. But I'm not sure my family is really that important to the clinic any more and I don't like that, either.

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