Mr. Fixit saw the cardiologist Friday. His blood pressure has been very high for a few days. The doctor put him on a new medication to control it.
It was during the visit that he asked us why we were upset during the stay at the hospital. I finally got to have my say to this guy.
When Mr. Fixit was sent to the large hospital the physician that we normally see was off for the weekend. He saw Mr. Fixit in the emergency room Friday night. We didn’t see him again until the office visit Friday. His partner arranged for the transfer and said the heart cath would be either Monday or Tuesday. We assumed it would be Tuesday. We didn’t expect to be put ahead of others. However, the nursing staff at the hospital began paging him Sunday evening after we arrived to get orders from him. He never answered his page. Monday we didn’t see a doctor at all. All day long the nurses were trying to get in touch with him. They told us that this group had a reputation for ignoring their pages.
Tuesday morning came and still no orders had been received. The nurses were upset and finally paged a third partner in the practice. We had never heard of this guy. By this time Mr. Fixit was getting ready to leave.
When the third partner came in, he said, “We didn’t know you were here. If I had known I could have done your procedure yesterday.” I was so angry. We didn’t know this guy from Adam, and he assumed that he would just walk in without the benefit of knowing Mr. Fixit’s history and do the heart cath. When he walked out of the room for a moment, I asked the nurse, “Who is this guy? How do we know if he is competent?” The nurse explained that he was a new partner in the practice and he was competent to do the procedure. She also told us we didn’t have to let him do the procedure. She suggested that we talk to the patient advocate at the hospital. But we decided to go ahead and let him do the procedure so Mr. Fixit wouldn’t have to spend an extra day there.
After the procedure, I did speak to the advocate, and I asked her not to do anything until I called her. We wanted to wait until after the first check-up. We wanted to speak with this doctor face to face and let him know that his handling of Mr. Fixit’s case was not acceptable.
The next morning the third partner came in with the discharge papers, and he knew we were upset. Apparently, the advocate,or perhaps the nursing staff, had told him that we were very angry. He said that he would take over the case if we wanted. I had a feeling that there could have been a power issue within the practice. We made an appointment with him for the follow-up.
I received a call from the first doctor the next day asking us to change the appointment and see him. I agreed. When he put his office manager on the phone to make the appointment, she asked me what the problem was. I told her that I would discuss it with the doctor when we came in Friday. She said she wanted to know because the doctor wanted to document the situation. That made me even madder. I declined to discuss it her again.
During the office visit, I explained to him that we had very little confidence in a doctor who “forgets” that his patient was awaiting a procedure. I also explained that I was angry that his office manager said he wanted to document the situation without talking to me himself. He apologized several times and denied that he received the any page from the nursing staff. He tried to blame the whole thing on the second partner. He also said that the new partner could not have performed the procedure on Monday because he (our doctor) had booked the cath lab for most of the morning. He had one excuse after the other. I told him I didn’t care to hear his excuses because forgetting his patient was completely unacceptable under any circumstances. I was completely civil to him. I didn’t raise my voice one time.
When Mr. Fixit had his stent put in several years ago, we had a problem with him, too. We were told the procedure would take about 45 minutes. Two and one half hours later, we still hadn’t heard that he was in recovery. We were in the waiting room. Finally, my son called someone and found that his doofus had neglected to let us know that Mr. Fixit had been returned to his room. I was a nervous wreck by that time. I was sure that there had been complications.
When the doctor came into to speak with us later, I told him then that he or one of his team should have let us know what was going on. He apologized that time, too, but he said he had an emergency come in and he had to save a man’s life. I told him I was glad he saved a life but that he had a responsibility to us to let me know that my husband wasn’t dead. I told him that time, too, that his actions, or lack of action, was unacceptable. Fat lot of good that did. He also decided to do the heart cath at one hospital and to put in the stent in another hospital almost doubling our bill.
As soon as Mr. Fixit’s blood pressure problem is resolved, we will attempt to find another cardiologist who associated with our insurance network. Dr. Doofus thinks that the problem has been resolved; he might be a little surprised when he sees a request to transfer Mr. Fixit’s files to another physician. No, maybe not. I have a feeling that as long as he has patients needing his services who are in our position he won’t give two hoots unless we decide to make a complaint to the hospital.