My Customer Service Nightmare
Why is it many people in healthcare still think it is the one service industry in which "customers"
can be treated like trash?
Recently I went to the doctor for some persistent and generalized itching. I don't have allergies and mentally eliminated everything from contact dermatitis to a food allergy. I was especially concerned because I seemed to have acquired some of the same symptoms my houseguest was having when he arrived a few days before. I decided we both needed to see a doctor who could possibly correlate the symptoms.
My first mistake was choosing a random doctor from my insurance PPO list--because he was the only one who could see us both the same day I called.
The front office staff was capable enough but not stellar, and offered the barest information. I noticed the nurse did not wash her hands and did her initial history by looking at me over her shoulder as she pecked at a computer keyboard. By this time I was mentally shaking my head (if that's possible).
The doctor was casual enough but diagnosed me in 4 minutes flat, wrote a prescription and ordered some labs. He did scold "at your age, you need to do (several very specific tests and procedures)." I thought, at least the cortisone he prescribed couldn't hurt, and might even stop the itching.
The medical assistant did not identify herself and after reading my lab orders basically wrestled my arm into position. She was unsuccessful twice and got indignant when I answered in the affirmative that I had drunk fluids earlier. "I don't think you had enough," she said. "You need to drink lots of fluids when you are coming in for lab work." I asked her to use a butterfly if that would be easier. Then she got really indignant when I told her she still had to wear gloves. Of course, she missed my veins again.
When I asked her to have someone else try, I was banished to the waiting room and after what seemed like years in exile, I grabbed the doctor between patients and told him about my experience. Without apologizing, he ordered a nurse to take my blood and I left covered with Band-Aids.
My nightmare was not over. When I joined my houseguest in the waiting room, he proceeded to share some concerns the doctor had about my health!!! I could not believe that on top of everything, this doctor had violated ethical, confidentiality and HIPAA rules. In several states, what he did is even considered illegal.
What makes this whole scenario more alarming is professionals would consider this kind of service acceptable.