Okay...so before I get into my topic today (of which I'm very passionate about), here's a funny fact: we just got back from dinner (Sante Fe) where Jack polished off the remains of Lucy's uneaten chicken fingers. Jason peeled off the fried part and shredded up the chicken; let me tell you, the kid can put down some chicken fingers!
But on to my topic for tonight...
Not much stops me in my tracks, but today I heard myself exclaim, "Wow!" after listening to a message on our machine. Our pediatrician, Dr. Scott (Field Pediatrics), had called to check up on Lucy after her visit to the office yesterday. Quick background: Jason took her in because she was holding her head and complaining that her ear hurt. So, of course you obligated to go and have the doc look in her ears (I seriously should just buy whatever that device is :-). Ears were perfectly clear and Dr. Scott and Dr. Susan (his wife) decided that she must have been having a painful crick in her neck.
But today, he called - not his nurses- but the DOCTOR actually called and asked how Lucy was doing. I sure do love them! Perhaps my reaction was a bit dramatic, I'm not sure if you've had your pediatrician call you, but it certainly impressed me and made me feel great that my kids' pediatrician is looking out for them. I don't know if it's because we take birthday cake to the office to share when we celebrate our kids' milestones :-) or if they're just a fantastic practice, but I certainly rest better knowing they're looking after Jack and Lucy.
After the kids go to bed tonight, I'll write my second letter to a doctor's office this week, one in praise of their exceptional care of their patients.
Which brings me to my point of tonight's blog (yes, I do have one :-) Did you have a terrible experience lately at a place of business? TELL THEM! Did you experience something wonderful and worthy of praise lately? MAKE IT KNOWN!
Like I said, this letter I'll soon be writing is the SECOND letter I'll be sending to a doctor's office this week. A week ago, deep into my little rendezvous with pneumonia, I had the worst experience ever at a doctor's office. And while fuming about it and ranting to Jason, I realized all that energy would be wasted if all I did was complain to loved ones about it. The person who needed to be aware of it was the DOCTOR. And far too often, people have a negative experience and they NEVER provide the feedback necessary to keep it from happening again. So, I slept on it, and the next day, decided to absolutely write that letter. (I'll include the letter at the end :-)
Now, let me provide this disclaimer, because it's important: there is a difference between people who seek out opportunities to bitch and complain about poor service (We all know someone who you hate to go to dinner with because they always send the food back or find fault with the cleanliness of their silverware-we've got some in our family too!), and people who provide honest, constructive feedback. I can honestly say I fall into the latter category.
But, when I experience something that I feel is inexcusable, you can bet someone will hear about it. It's necessary if we want our capitalist market to continue; if you want good businesses to stick around and bad ones to naturally fail (survival of the fittest, baby!).
Some recent examples: a few months ago, within a period of one week, I had three crazy drivers nearly loose control of their car and hit me on Old Big Cove (very windy road where there have been several fatalities from car accidents this year). So, I set aside a mere three minutes of my time and called the local police department and suggested that if the dept. was in need of some funding, placing a few cops on this road to catch speeders would provide a lucrative return in a very short amount of time. And you know what, the very NEXT DAY, a cop was stationed on the road. (Don't worry, I emailed all my friends in the neighborhood to tell them to slow down, cops might be out :-)
About a month ago, a cleaning crew from Stanley Steemer-two young punks from my observation-pulled a very stupid stunt on the road and nearly caused an accident with my car. Now, when my babies are involved, I become "Mama Bear"; they picked the wrong mini-van to get their kicks with. I noted the number of the van and when I got home, took just a few minutes to track down the local manager of the Huntsville Stanley Steemers. I made a polite phone call to report the incident, and hung up the phone very satisfied knowing this manager was going to light a certain fire under their asses. The manager thanked me profusely for calling and letting him know.
And finally, the worst of the worst was this terrible doctor I had the misfortune of knowing. You'll get the gist of what happened if you want to read the letter, but here's my point everyone: it really only takes a few minutes to let someone know if they're doing a great job or if they need to take a critical look at something, and you will get results! Maybe you'll just be doing someone else a favor and keeping a negative experience that happened to you from happening to someone else, or maybe you'll be making someone's day by being that rare person who actually provides positive feedback. But either way, you'll be doing something very important and worthwhile! I encourage you to try it!
So, there...there's my soapbox for today...now I'm off to brush "hungry Jack's" chicken finger- covered teeth! :-)
Letter: (Big thanks to Molly for helping me with the medical lingo and awesome closing!)
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Mrs. Kelly Martin
Dr. Marshall Plotka
Phoenix Emergency Care
7105B Bailey Creek Circle
Huntsville, AL 35802
I have been a patient at your facility on a few occasions, and I would like to express my displeasure with the visit I had Tuesday of this week with Dr. Robinson-Humphrey. Assuming you’d be interested in patient feedback, please allow me to explain my complaints.
After I had initially been examined by Dr. Robinson-Humphrey, I commented to the nurse that I was breastfeeding, and would she please relay to the doctor that any prescriptions she gave me were safe for my son. Dr. Robinson returned to my room and, in a scolding manner, expressed that I should have told her that earlier. I apologized and agreed that I should have mentioned it earlier, but my illness had me less than alert.
Then, she followed up by saying, “I am a nursing mother too, and I would never forget to mention that to the doctor.” The Code of Medical Ethics states that a doctor must always maintain the highest standards of professional conduct. Again, I agree with the doctor’s recommendation that I should have provided that information earlier, but the manner in which she spoke to me was less than polite, and her personal comment was completely unnecessary and unprofessional.
I came in to see a doctor because I thought I had the flu, so when she said I had pneumonia, I was surprised. I asked her specifically if the flu test came back negative and she replied, “Well, the nurses would normally tell me if the test came back positive.” The Code of Ethics states, “A doctor should certify or testify only to that which he has personally verified.” Clearly, Dr. Robinson-Humphrey had not checked the test results herself, and if a nurse had accidentally forgotten to check the results, a misdiagnosis would have been possible.
A few incidents occurred that I would normally overlook, but considering the experience I had, I think they’re worth noting. I arrived at the office at 8am, hoping to get seen quickly, but the nurse came into my room to let me know the doctor was unexpectedly running late, but that she’d be there soon. She arrived at 9:40, one hour and forty minutes after I signed in. Upon entering the room, Dr. Robinson-Humphrey introduced herself, and when I extended my hand as a greeting, she replied, “I’ll forego the handshake today.” Obviously concerned about germs, I was surprised that she did not even wash her hands in the room. Moments later, while attempting to look in my throat, she stood as far away from my body as possible, stretching out her hands, hardly able to get a good view. After receiving a shot, I had a dizzy spell, and the nurse was kindly fanning me and placing a cool cloth on my head. It was at this time that Dr. Robinson-Humphrey was finishing her exam. She stopped herself in the middle of a sentence to tell the nurse to back away from me.
I completely understand her concern, and I do realize I was sick with a bacterial infection, but I found her actions to be very poor “bedside manner.” Simply utilizing universal precautions would have kept her safe from any potential cross contamination, while allowing her to conduct an exam that didn’t make me feel ostracized.
Finally, I had to wait over 45 minutes after my exam was completed to receive my prescription. I had asked the nurses to please check on the status, and it was still 20 minutes before I was discharged. I was at the office from 8am-10:55, nearly three hours. I understand that a doctor’s office generally isn’t known for speedy service, but this seems a bit extreme, especially when the patient is in obvious distress with physical symptoms such as fever, chills, and severe coughing. On top of simply feeling miserable, it inappropriately prolonged my exposure to the other patients and staff, something Dr. Robinson-Humphrey made abundantly clear she was concerned about.
In conclusion, I want to re-state that while I understand in a medical setting things can occasionally happen to prolong patient wait times, I will never understand a physician who contributes to an already stressful situation by showing callousness and carelessness. Dr. Robinshon-Humphrey is lucky that I spoke up when I did- regardless of her inappropriate admonition- since in reality the responsibility to obtain the necessary patient information before making a medication recommendation lies completely with prescribing physician, not the nurse or the patient. Her rude attitude when questioned about the flu test is inexcusable; not only was that within my patient rights, but part of being an informed member of my own health care. I simply want to draw attention to the poor care I received Tuesday in the hopes that the contributing parties correct their mistakes and the situation does not repeat itself for other patients.