Alice’s Restaurant

February 13, 2007

When Should You Complain About Your Doctor?

Filed under: Day to Day Life — aliceaudrey @ 1:33 am

Mr. Al thinks it should complain now.  I’m not so sure.  And really, my problem is with the receptionist more than with the doctor.

See, the doctor said I had to see a specialist, and that the specialist in question would have his office contact me to set up an appointment.  It never happened.  So I called today to let my doctor know the specialist’s office didn’t call, which is what my doctor told me to do, and to see when the results of my poop samples would be back.

What I got from my doctor’s receptionist was the phone number for the specialist, which I already had, and a vague comment about the results being mailed to me when they were ready.  Pardon me?  I was in the hospital for 10 hours over this.  I think a brush off is a little cavalier.  But I dutifully called the specialist to make the appointment and let the rest slide.

I got an answering machine saying the office of the specialist would be closed until February 26th.  So I called my doctors office back and asked whether or not my condition was stable enough to wait that long or if I should seek a different specialist.  Without consulting anyone or even hesitating long enough to flip open my file the receptionist said I should leave a message on the specialist’s answering machine and wait for them to call me to make the appointment.  In other words, she gave me the brush off.

I’ll have you know that I am no wimp.  My doctor knows this, and has had words with her receptionist in the past for giving me appointments weeks after a medical emergency.  I don’t go running off to the hospital for no particular reason, especially at 5 am.  And I really dislike the brush off.  But I consider it par of the course and generally let it slide.

Mr. Al doesn’t see it that way.  He thinks the receptionist is negligent for giving out medical advice to patients without consulting a doctor.  He thinks I should write a letter to the doctor with a carbon copy to be sent to hospital, for which she is a member of the board of directors.

What do you think?  Is it worth rocking to boat, or not?  Or maybe what I should really do is find a doctor with a good receptionist.




  1. Rock the boat.

    If you don’t, they will just walk all over you.

    Comment by miladyinsanity — February 13, 2007 @ 2:54 am

  2. I’d definately rock the boat — the sad thing is that she’s probably giving the brush-off to lots of other patients, some who might be medically fragile! Argh!

    Comment by Pam Skochinski — February 13, 2007 @ 12:48 pm

  3. I’m going with Mr. Al on this one. This is YOUR life. Let that woman take a hike. She wouldn’t be so cavalier if it was her.

    Comment by Bev — February 13, 2007 @ 1:53 pm

  4. Since I have a real problem with going to doctors. i.e. I won’t go. Period. I say rock the boat. There are people out there who will not persist when they should (like me), and it doesn’t help to have medical personnel on any level who are not actively involved in trying to give their patients (who are real people with real lives and real medical complaints) the best care possible.


    Comment by Donna — February 13, 2007 @ 4:06 pm

  5. But if *I* complain, then I will probably only get labeled as a trouble maker, which will mean I’ll have even more problems with her.

    I guess I at least owe it to the doctor to tell her why I’m probably going to switch to someone else. Should I really send a letter? Or maybe just tell the doctor what the receptionist said next time I have an appointment, which looks to be fairly soon anyway.

    So it’s not just business as usual in the medical world? I generally only go to the doctor when something scares me or has gone beyond endurance, or someone makes me.


    Comment by aliceaudrey — February 13, 2007 @ 4:35 pm

  6. I’m also the type who rarely goes to the doctor, but just because you don’t show up at the doctor’s office for every little ailment doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t receive quality service each and every time you deal with that office.

    This receptionist seems to be not only unprofessional in her behavior, but also stepping outside the bounds of her job. It’s not the receptionist’s job to tell you whether or not your condition is stable enough to be kept waiting without treatment for weeks on end. That’s unacceptable when your health and well-being are at risk.

    I say make the complaint. If no one ever complained, few problems would ever get fixed. This individual is going to keep behaving this way unless it’s made clear to her that giving patients the brush off is unacceptable behavior.

    Comment by Kelly — February 13, 2007 @ 7:50 pm

  7. Gotta agree with the people telling you to rock the boat, Alice. The odds are good that she’s giving other people the brushoff just like you. You keep calling back. Other people won’t.

    Also, if this receptionist can’t put personal feelings aside (meaning, if she’s brushing you off because she doesn’t like you/thinks you’re a troublemaker), then the doctor needs to know so something can be done about it.

    Comment by Sara — February 14, 2007 @ 5:35 pm

  8. I was so sure Mr. Al and I were over-reacting. I guess not.


    Comment by aliceaudrey — February 15, 2007 @ 11:51 am

  9. There is a third option. Call the office and ask to speak with the doctor. Be firm and if the receptionist says that the doctor is busy, ask for a call back. You don’t even need to give a reason. It is your right to speak with the doctor. You can also ask to speak with a nurse if the doc is busy. She is much more apt to either relay the message to the doctor and get you the results of the conversation or give you advice. It doesn’t pay to be too easy going. The only time that I deal with the receptionist is to make an appointment or get a referral.


    Comment by Laurie — February 15, 2007 @ 6:40 pm

  10. Alice, I’m with Laurie. Call the doctor’s office and ask to have the doctor call you back. The receptionist doesn’t know anything about your case and can’t know whether it’s okay for you to wait until after February 26th to see the specialist. Your doctor might have referred you without knowing the specialist was out. And you need to talk to HER to determine what the next step is.

    When I had my breast lump biopsy a few months back, it drove me crazy that TWO receptionists could pull up the results but NEITHER one of them could tell me what those results were. I came close to tearing my hair out with frustration because I couldn’t get in touch with either doctor for a result. But in the end, my wonderful internist called me back and let me know everything was benign at his earliest opportunity-7pm, dinner time.

    A good physician will call you back you ask.

    Good luck!

    Comment by Jacqueline Barbour — February 15, 2007 @ 7:22 pm

  11. Alice,

    I so would call your doctors office again. I agree with Laurie, if you can’t speak to the doctor then talk to the nurse. If the doctor has had words with the receptionist before, then maybe you doctor needs to know that the receptionist is over stepping her bounds.

    You need to remember that this is your body, and from what it sounds like your doctor was wanting to move quickly on this problem. And you are still waiting. You at least need some reassurance that this can wait until the specialist comes back. Lord knows how long it takes to get into specialists too.

    If you still don’t get anywhere then I would look at atleast writing a letter to the doctor. And letting the receptionist know she doesn’t know it all. She needs to quit being so rude.

    I am telling you all of this and I don’t like to rock the boat. But I say you need to watch out for you, and Mr. Al is watching out for you. Men tend to want answers and NOW, especially when it comes to someone they love very much.

    Good luck!! My prayers are with you.

    Comment by Christina — February 16, 2007 @ 8:49 am

  12. All right, all right. I’m thinking I will need an appointment anyway. I’ll make one and mention the problem to the doctor while I’m there.

    It’s just an ovarian cyst. I don’t think it’ll kill me in a matter of days.


    Comment by aliceaudrey — February 16, 2007 @ 9:04 pm

  13. when you are feeling vulnerable from an injury, surley a bit of empathy costs nothing. the receptionist i spoke to this morning was very curt in her manner towards me. i was polite, calm. only to leave the phone call feeling even lower. and with no apointment. help!!

    Comment by jason — August 5, 2008 @ 1:53 am

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