Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Rude Receptionist - Not Appreciated ( Test Update - Unofficial) ... post revised

So I went to my pcp's office to get the ball rolling in response to my dream. (See previous post) I didn't have my usual doctor but, instead one of his partners that I have had a few other times. I do like him and feel good about establishing a bond with him over time too.

He is ordering the required ultrasound the specialist's office requested. That being said, he is not particularly concerned and said if it's good that there is no need to go to the specialist ...a vascular surgeon. So that is a good thing.

I spent the afternoon on line trying to find one. And I did and I have to say ...pleased with what I read on his website and on his blog. Of course the *blog* got this SeaSpray's attention. :)

I was having sharp left calf pain intermittently over the weekend. But then woke up with it yesterday and it continued throughout the day, especially when I walked. I just wanted to rule out a blood clot because I do have some vascular issues in my lower extremities. I don't take medicine or anything, but do have some discoloration that exacerbated when I began sitting -blogging for so long... since 2006.

So, I will be getting an ultrasound at 9 a.m., bright eyed and bushy tailed - glad to get it over with. Would've done it today if I could have.

Some of my favorite medical staff is in that building. And after today ...I found myself thinking of the receptionists in that office and let me tell you ...I appreciate those women even more!

And that brings me to this. What a rude receptionist I encountered when I was checking out at the doctor's office this morning.

It wasn't horrible ...but it wasn't right either.

There are certainly worse situations. But, it was a matter of principal. And I admit, that even though I am basically easy going and I guess because I worked in the business, I admittedly have a low tolerance for rude receptionists. I do. Of course there could be extenuating circumstances, bad day and all that ...but not so with repetitive bad behavior.

She never smiles, rarely makes eye contact and so I just assumed she was timid and maybe feeling pressured to get work done. Without knowing her ...she seemed the shy type. Looks kind of sweet.


You really can't judge a book by it's cover.

She was typing up the orders and next appointment to be printed out, when I quietly, but politely stated that I forgot to ask him about a prescription and would it be alright to have someone ask him before I leave? (I really like these 2 docs that I have seen, but they are very slow getting prescriptions sent to the pharmacy or MEDCO. I am not saying it is the doctor. It could be the m/a or whoever handles that. But, the first time it happened ...the pharmacist said my doctor was slow with prescriptions. he has never said that about any other medical office and I have never experienced it with any other medical office. It could be their process in handling requests - I don't know. The pharmacist sometimes faxes twice or I will call their line after they don't respond to him. The most recent time was for blood pressure med and I called the pharmacy TWO weeks early! And I still ended up having to leave a message when I had just a couple left!) So ...that is why I thought it might be a good idea to ask now. I can appreciate that it would be annoying to clinic staff since they are already on to the next patient. If they couldn't then they couldn't and I would've understand and just call back.

Anyway ...without even looking up she continued typing ..she CURTLY said, 'You SHOULD have asked him that when you were in there!" I was taken aback and apologetically said, "I know, but it wasn't on my mind at all because I had other things I was concerned about when we were talking. I was worried about having a blood clot in my leg and some other things."

She didn't say a word.

And then I felt anger rise up within me because it was a sincere mistake. I was the PATIENT. NOT her child. And I would not talk to my kids in that tone! I would not talk to a friend like that. And I CERTAINLY would NOT talk to a PATIENT like that! I deserved respect! And hey's a novel idea about a little compassion?! And it's not like this was just a bad day. I could excuse that. I have been there enough now to conclude that most of the receptionists in that office are not friendly.

But, this just rubbed me the wrong way and the next thing I knew the words flew out of my mouth. "I worked as an emergency room receptionist for TWENTY YEARS and I NEVER would've spoken to a PATIENT the way you just spoke to me."

Never raising her eyes to look at me, she said, "What?" And as quietly as I could, but with the same emphasis repeated it and some of the other women heard it ...which was not my intent. I was quiet about it. She didn't say anything ...not even an apology or any kind of excuse. She did look concerned though. I was about to say more, but then the doctor happened to come down to the area anyway and so I turned away to ask him. He was pleasant and just asked what pharmacy as he kept walking.

She handed my papers to me ...I took them, turned and on my way out ... and dopey me in my cheery Miss Sunshine way, said, "Have a nice day!" :) Because that is me. FRIENDLY!


Not one person in that area said anything back. And they never do!

I was annoyed at myself for saying anything. Why can't I ever STAY mad? Why can't I just be cold and ignore rude people other people do - they really don't care? Why do I always soften and go into nice mode? I'm Jello I tell you! And of course we are to forgive and be positive examples in life. My aunt used to say, "Patricia, two wrongs never make a right.", and she was right.

Most medical offices I have been in ...or medical facilities are friendly. Or you might have a grumpy one, but most are friendly. It is just common courtesy to be polite and say good bye to someone.

And I have left without saying a word sometimes, but it feels so yucky and like I am being rude. Of course it also feels yucky to be nice and then they just ignore me. It's the same feeling I get when I get a dead fish handshake - UGH! Thankfully that is rare too. I don't think much of a person who does that ...with a few exceptions though. I guess in the end ...I am who I am and I am not going to be tit for tat and prefer to do the right thing.

To me's a foreign concept to choose not to be warm and friendly to another person ...especially a PATIENT. Or are they ignorant with a low emotional IQs?

Even Mr SeaSpray who doesn't care about that stuff (because he just wants to get in and get out), noticed it and that is saying something. The m/a's and doctors I've met thus far - very nice. NOT the receptionists.

If the doctors weren't nice I would be out of there so fast and never recommend them. I have recommended my pcp though and would this other doctor as well. An older woman turned around and quietly smiled at me the last time from across the room in the office area. And today I saw that they have a new, younger receptionist and she was so sweet and friendly when I signed in. She far outshines them in personality. It was actually a pleasure to check in today. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable when I first walk in because I know I have to deal the receptionists. Usually I feel like I am bothering them or just discounted ...just an unimportant, lowly patient. The deli number machine has more personality! They never say "Hi, how are you?" or "Have a nice day.", or any kind of well wishing. Very cold and uncaring. And I think that is sad for the elderly people that go there. You just know that some of them are so lonely that just a friendly smile means a lot to them. A friendly smile can turn anyone's bad day around sometimes.

THANK GOD they are NOT at all like that at the urology office or that would've been one heck of a M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-E experience with all I had to go through with procedures, etc., when I was in frequent flier mode. My former pcp office was so friendly and I can think of a lot of other nice offices. And the surgery center I've been to ...well with them's like they can't do enough for you. That is the total positive patient experience in that place. :)

A receptionist is on the front lines of any corporation they work for. They are usually the first and last impression the customer has of the office, hospital or any company. They set the tone. The last thing you want is to lose customers because of uncaring employees. Also, why should they go to your office only to be subjected to rude behavior when they are coming to you for help or some other service? Especially if they are a patient. Patients may be coming in to the office feeling afraid, ill or in pain. Maybe they are grieving or in some other kind of emotional pain or are stressed. We often don't know the burdens and struggles people have. Even if they are healthy ...they may still be feeling vulnerable, shy and nervous about the exam. A patient should be treated with dignity and respect. They chose to come to your office and in so doing are trusting you with their bodies along with their most intimate information. They should be able to feel comfortable as much as possible throughout the medical office process. And certainly should not be reprimanded by a receptionist. But, if a receptionist for some reason does need to say something ...said receptionist sure as heck should be respectful. She didn't know what was weighing on my mind. She wasn't in that exam room. She didn't hear our discussion. She was clueless! So ...I made a mistake. Do I have to be afraid like I am in the Soup Nazi line now, when checking out? I think not.

People remember how they are treated. Some may not have a choice and may have to stay. But others can just as easily walk back out the door for good.

And then there is word of mouth. A positive word of mouth can be one of the most influential ways to bring in new patients/customers. What do people say about your office? I've sometimes wondered how some people have been allowed to work in a front office around other people. I suppose there could be an underlying tone in this office ...something unseen behind the scenes ...maybe with a stern office manager and this is the result. I don't know that. It's possible they are super strict ..or just biatches. ? It's a very busy office. I can see that they can't talk. But ...there is simply NO excuse for being rude and/or unfriendly.

Even on my most hellacious nights working solo on a 3-11 shift (Registration - but you are running in and out of the ED and all over the place and have multiple people and situations to deal with and phone, etc.) at the ED, I would always be polite, kind, compassionate, helpful warm and friendly. Sure...some nights it might be in fast mode ...but it could be done. A positive and caring attitude can go along way. I also loved to give the patients ice packs or get them a warm blanket if staff was tied up. It felt good to just do a little more for them. It wasn't in my job description, but I would always be happy to pitch in anywhere on any job if I could. If there was something really serious, I wished I could be more helpful like the nurses and doctors because they really help the patients vs being a paper pusher. My point is if medical and support staff can be be respectful, positive and friendly in a fast paced emergent care area is certainly possible in a busy medical office.

This post was about interactions with respectful patients. Difficult patients present another challenge, but even then, I think diplomacy can go a long way in clearing up miscommunication and/or diffusing a potentially volatile situation.
Update Thursday: It seems that based on the ultrasound tech's conversation with me, my legs are clear of clots or whatever they would look for. She of course did not officially say that, but I read between the lines. YAY!

So ..then the dream was probably just in response to the pain that was arousing me in my sleep just before waking. I am trusting that any other good medical reports I've gotten are also accurate and all is well. The only thing is the pathology lab may've lost the H-Pylori result because it was coming up on the weekend and then July 4th and receptionist said that they had a problem getting other tests from that day and to call back today. I just hope they find it and it's not mixed up for some reason. (Would I have to redo the procedure? I would not be happy about that) But - he tested for that last time in 2009 and I didn't have it... odds are I don't.

It is such a RELIEF to be getting cleared with these things! I was upset about my leg Tuesday. I felt like I could've danced out of the building this morning because I was so happy about this. The sun seemed brighter, the Queen Anne's Lace and cornflowers bordering the roadways were even prettier.

I decided to take the scenic route home, but then the Bagel place is on the way. I was drawn in like a moth to flame. I bought bagels and a freshly brewed hazelnut coffee. It's hot and so I thought we could have bagel sandwiches and a big salad tonight.

Going in the pool for a bit and then off to the dentist.


Chrysalis Angel said...

She needs to work on her impulse control. Hopefully, it was just a bad day and not her normal patient interaction. Patients can frustrate, but everyone needs to zip it and just deal.

I had one give me a hard time once. I told my doctor how she treated me and what she said. I never had a problem again. First off, she didn't know that this was something he had asked me to do, and she wasn't privy to our exchanges related to my care. I was doing as he wanted me to.

In their is difficult at times when you're busy and just would love a smooth check out and no last minute, Oh btws. You were right to ask though, just sayin'.

SeaSpray said...

Hi Angel!!! I agree. Not telling Dr tho. If it happened again - yes, I'd mention it.

I kept my appt the morning Iris died. I's husband called me with the news just as I was leaving for my 9:15 appt. I was sobbing - even tho I knew it was just a matter of hrs when I left her the night before. I couldn't compose myself and needed time, but I wanted to keep the appt because it was a follow-up on cellulitis. It appeared healed, but being diabetic I thought he should still check. I know they would not have charged me to not come in on short notice, but I was also concerned how I'd feel once it really set in and so just wanted to get it over with. I called and explained that my close friend just died could I come in a little late. She came back and said yes. But ..I ended up coming in an hr late. At that time I just could not stop crying. I cried all the way there, walking in office, at reception, down the hall and with doctor. Turned out my bp was really high too.

Anyway, when I presented to the front desk the receptionist saw me crying, knew my friend died ..didn't say hi or sorry ..just "You're LATE!"

She had no idea about the other issue that had me feeling like I's dying was my fault and I think the guilt was exacerbating my already profound grief and why I couldn't ever compose myself. And my bp had shot up - no doubt due to the stress.

These women never say hello, how are you, smile's rude and weird.

So I think I also reacted to this most recent thing because of their ongoing cold,insensitive rude reception non skills.

I have felt guilty as a Christian writing the post because we should forgive and I guess be extra kind instead. I just had to speak up which is so uncharacteristic of me.

And I guess because I've done the work - regardless of how busy ..patients deserve respect. It could be that they aren't treated well ..who knows. I will be polite to them and maybe it will get better.

For most of my life, I have just swallowed bad behavior down ..stuff worse than this for sure. Thinking I was a nice person for doing it. now I think it was unhealthy to be a doormat or kicking post. i will never be the aggressive type and don't want to be. And I don't know why now ..I am reacting.

HA! Must be my post menopausal hormones kicking in! :)

I miss you and hope all is well with you and fireguy. {{{Angel}}}

Chrysalis Angel said...

I understand how you feel, Seaspray. Being a Christian doesn't keep us from being human. We get angry, too.

Cher said, "Don't mistake kindness for weakness - I'll mop up the floor with you." Ha! I rather like it.

I am like you, you know this. I don't like to hurt anyone's feelings and I'm always trying to be a "good girl". People are surprised when I draw the line in the sand with them. I will not put up with disrespect. I am not a doormat.

I only told my doctor, because she was trying to block me from communicating to him and she was nasty about it. (He had asked me to call him, but she was not aware of what was going on with my treatment and his needing me to get back to him.)

You can't go back and it probably would have been better had you rescheduled and taken that day to grieve. Difficult to function and think under those circumstances. She's probably burning out and will move on before too long, one way or another.

Don't feel bad about venting. We need to vent, too. (All is well here, just got back from a great vacation at the lake.)

SeaSpray said...

Good Girl! ha! Exactly ME in my past and for a long time and it's still there. Angel - if we lived closer I know we'd be close friends and share a LOT of laughs. We have our faith in common and so much. I will always remember you called me the day after or maybe same day if it was after midnight. I remember numbers but blocked that. Anyway helped so much to speak with you. :)

I love the quote! LOL! And when you think about it even Jesus got angry at the temple ...albeit over something more important. But there is a righteous anger. And maybe she will think twice before doing it to someone else.

And I know because of being in the business there are things that go on behind the scenes that patients are clueless about or even the protocols receptionists have to follow or maybe they work for a doctor who will bite their head off when they bother him for any reason ..although if they don't ask - get in trouble too.

Still ...BE professional and don't take it out on the patient and certainly never assume and be rude.

In your case she was way over the line and thankfully you got through.

VACATION!!! Sounds fun! What lake? My cousins live in the Adirondacks near the Great Sacandaga. We rented a lake house for a week up there one year and had so much fun. Except for the resident bat that was dwelling up in our bedroom. That was scary when he came swooping by and we spent the night sleeping on the porch. :)

Lisa researching rude receptionist said...

I don't blame you one bit for saying what you did. I would have done the exact same thing... but I have a big mouth. HAHA!
I worked for an oral surgeon for 3 months. At the end of the 90 day probationary period, they wanted to offer me a raise and a permanent position. They were not prepared for my resignation, during which I told them just how rude, unkind, and downright mean the doctor and office managers were, I sincerely hope they considered my constructive criticism, but I doubt it.