Wednesday, December 02, 2009

well, that was a waste of a morning and $170

So today I went off to try a new doctor, at a boutique medical firm recommended to me by countless friends. To a person these friends all rave about how their doctors have so much time for them, are such good listeners, send them email all the time, etc... In order to step foot across the threshold one must pay an annual membership fee, on top of having acceptable insurance and paying all the regular copays (a steep $40 for every visit in my case). I was happy and optimistic as I went downtown. I also had a printout in hand from my October ultrasound, with detailed measurements and descriptions of my tumor (the one thing which went right in all of this medical hell was that I went to the medical record offices at UCSF yesterday in person and got that printout promptly from a very friendly black woman).

In contrast to my friends' experiences, with doctors who have all the time in the world for them, the first thing this new doctor said to me was, "I hope they told you I only have a few minutes for you." He did not prove to be a good listener. I had filled out a form noting that I take Xanax, and I told him "it's for insomnia, NOT anxiety; I have no anxiety problems." I'd barely said that when he riposted, "Are you seeing a psychiatrist for your anxiety disorder?"

And what I came away with was nothing but a list of other doctors for me to cold call. Like Dr. Baby Gay whom I saw before, this male doctor knows nothing of the female organs, doesn't want to contemplate the female anatomy, and doesn't even want to discuss the female organs. Why is it that a tumor, just because it happens to be attached to a uterus, is so untouchable and icky? Why do uterus-phobic doctors accept appointments with women? Note: I was not expecting him to operate on my tumor personally, but I did expect him, as my new primary care physician, to want to make the arrangements for my care. Back in the old days when I had a doctor and needed surgery, my doctor set it up. I'd never met the surgeon and gastroenterologist who both operated on me back in 2000 before I went under the anesthesia; my old doctor arranged it all (and I read a profile of my surgeon in the Wall St Journal during my convalescence).

I was distraught when I left. I've put a lot of time into coldcalling doctors, and I'm not eager to work my way down a new list of unknown doctors. I have no faith in today's doctor to give me a good recommendation, either. He just picked some names off a hospital's practice list after I was unenthusiastic about his first choice, whom he raved was "a real holistic practitioner." "What does that mean?" I asked. "She's really good with herbs," he said. I looked at him. "I'm really more of a science type," I said dryly. What I need at this moment in time is a surgeon, not some herbal remedies. "So someone more allopathic," he said with disdain, and he pulled up the list of faculty from a local hospital on his computer.

When I got home, I looked up "allopathic", which Wikipedia says is a term "coined by Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy. It meant 'other than the disease' and it was intended, among other things, to point out how traditional doctors used methods that had nothing to do with the symptoms created by the disease and which, in Hahnemann's view, meant that these methods were harmful to the patients.. . . During the 19th century it was used widely among irregular doctors as a pejorative term for regular doctors. In the United States the term 'allopathic' has been used by persons not related to homeopathy, but it has never been accepted by the medical establishment, and is not a label that such individuals apply to themselves."

I think we can safely say I will not ever see this fancy new doctor, who sneers at science-oriented doctors as "allopathic", again. Going to this expensive boutique was supposed to solve my healthcare problems, but I'm back at square one, just out $170. Leaving the office I felt the familiar pain in my abdomen, and tears sprang to my eyes. I choked them back and trudged to the subway.


Carol Ann said...

I'm sorry that you're having to through all of this. I hope you find a doctor you like soon.

Dread Pirate Davi said...

Wow...A DOCTOR with a MEDICAL DEGREE sneering at your desire to go to a REAL doctor who deals with SCIENCE??

I really really hope you find a keeper soon. No one should have to deal with this nonsense, though. :(

Anonymous said...

Dear god, woman. Sending you lots of healing energy and all that other hooha crap in the hopes you find a good science-y doctor soon.

hughman said...

so does that membership fee allow you to see other doctors there? is there a clinic manager? i would call them if there is one and relate your experience. the whole time comment was totally whacked especially for a doctor seeing you for the first time. i'd raise a stink about it. you paid them. would you go to a restaurant for a shitty meal and then pay at the end?

hughman said...

and yeah, this pisses me off. maybe i should call my doctor (who is awesome) and see if he knows someone there in SF. i wouldn't mind at all.

J9 said...

I was hoping this would be the Dr. you could see from now on too! I'm so sorry, and I know it's of no help whatsoever, but I adore my OB GYN in Livermore, which would necessitate a trip to the far east bay...

NonymousGoatsePants said...

I'm going to tell you the same thing I tell my Mom. Come to New York and see a Doctor. Our Doctors actually graduate from a US Medical School.

Are you sure you didn't see an Osteopath? I've heard some wacky crap come out of DO's mouths.

Check your EOB when it comes. If he bills at a higher rate for an initial consult, call your insurance company and relate yhsi comments about not having a lot of time to spend on you. Insist that they make him justify the higher rate. At least you'll get some satisfaction by hitting him in the purse strings, even if it's only a little bit.

Oh yeah, eat some gravy. It's good.

Silliyak said...

I agree you should call the office manager and additionally ask for your "membership" fee to be returned since you won't be back and were treated so badly.

Claire M. Johnson said...

Good with herbs???????????????? I'm a little unclear on the concept here. You're lookng for a surgeon. If he'd said, "She's good with a knife," then I'd say we're at least on the same planet. But good with herbs is not a phrase that exactly inspires confidence (says the daughter of an orthopedic surgeon).

Dear god, I wish you were joking, but I know you're not. You still have the back-up appointment with Dr. Condescending though, yes?

Fortywinx said...

Wow you've been really unlucky so far =( At least in the UK we don't have to pay anything for crappy appointments with crappy doctors, that would just be rubbing salt into wounds really. Good luck with finding a good one!

Julep said...

Honestly? I'm with Nonymous. Come up here to Boston. I gather you're at least familiar with the area, and great hospitals up here are as common as Baptist churches down in Bama.

Or this: go into the ER at the BEST hospital in town. I mean, seriously best. Be in pain, tell them about the tumor, let them know that Dr's Condecending and Holistic can't help you and you're not sure if you can take this for another week, let alone till January. Tell them you need a fast referral to an awesome surgeon, STAT. Play up the drama if you have to. Sure you have to pay the ER copay, but just use your refund from boutique to cover that.

(((hugs))) and healing thoughts. You have to stand up for yourself with these jerks, especially. Don't leave the office in pain and crying, turn around and march right back up to the window and raise holy hell. You have the right to expect and get thorough care from these doctors. You're hiring them, you're the boss, they work FOR you. Don't put up with their malarky, you're too smart and too strong for that!!!

pie_ho said...

I'm so sorry this continues to be painful and frustrating.

Next time I guess you'd better make sure that your recommendations are coming from people who embrace conventional medicine. A lot of the crunchy granola types we associate with would assume that an osteopath with an interest in herbal remedies is a good thing.

Have you severed ties with Dr Condescension? When I've needed the best that conventional medicine has to offer, I've had some great care from highly specialized doctors with wretched bedside manners.

Missy said...

This just stinks, I am so sorry you had to go through this.

You were awfully kind to not throw a giant fit when the doctor said that from the get go; I find that incredibly insulting.

I like Julep's suggestion or the referral from Hugh. I agree also you should get your money back; if you charged it, call the credit card company and initiate a chargeback.

You can use the Missy Misery Method: If I am feeling that much misery, then I'm going to make sure others feel it, too.

Jane Lebak said...

First call would be to the office manager to get a refund, but it would start this way: "So, I hear I have to pay $140 to be a member there. What does one get for that $140. You mean I get allthe time I need? And what kind of treatment do I get? Do I get a referral if I need one? What would happen if I was dissatisfied?"

As if you're a new patient. Then, once you've got that information, you can say, "Okay, well,I saw Dr. Idiot on {date} and he told me as he walked in the door that he had exactly three minutes to talk to me. He refused to read my chart and refused to refer me to a surgeon. I would like my money refunded by check by {date}."

Second call: to whatever hospital Dr.Idiot is affiliated with to let them know what happened.

Third call: state medical board or whatever licensing board is over Dr. Idiot.

Fourth call: to the insurance company to report your shoddy treatment and demand they not pay him. The insurance company may well be your biggest advocate here because they do not care whom they pay, and they will often get on the phone with the office and say things like "remove you from the network" which strike fear into the hearts of office managers. Once after getting the runaround for six weeks, I got a call back within five minutes of the insurance company calling once to say this particular practice might no longer be considered a practice by BCBS.


Ellen Spertus said...

As one of the people who goes to and recommends the practice, I'd be happy to request your money back. Perhaps we recommenders as a group can.