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Lost Time Is Never Found Again

Time Is What We Want Most But What We Used Worst…     William Penn

This week we motored to the eye doctor for an appointment for TLO. This was a new doctor added to our portfolio as his previous eye doctor was no longer on the TLO’s insurance plan. Like many caregivers, I ended leaving work early in the afternoon to pick up TLO so that we could head west to the appointment. Twenty minutes from work to home; twenty minutes from home to the doctor’s office. I guess you can say I was ‘Driving TLO’  (Driving Miss Daisy just did not sound right!)

On our way to the Doctor’s appointment, I got my first indication that this appointment had the potential to be a problem.

  • TLO: “When I made the appointment I asked them to send me the paperwork so I could fill it out and have it ready when we arrive. I never received the paperwork, so if I do not have any of the information they need, I am going to write on each line, ‘I’m too old to remember because you did not send me the paperwork ahead of time!’”
  • Me: “How long ago did you make this appointment?”
  • TLO: “At least six weeks ago and I called them in the mean time to ask them to send me the paperwork”
  • Me: “So you made two request for the paperwork.”
  • TLO “Yes!”
  • “Oh boy,” I thought to myself. ”This is going to be a long afternoon”

We promptly arrived 15 minutes ahead of schedule and TLO started to fill out his paperwork. Surprised that he did not say something to the receptionist about not being mailed the paperwork prior to the appointment, he took pen to paper and started to fill out the requested information. (Of course, they took his co-pay first!) As I peeked over to see what how he was doing with the paper work, I noticed a few long answers which started…”I’m too old to remember.” I chuckled, but made sure he was not missing any critical information that the doctor or staff needed which was important to his care.

While completing the paperwork we sat in what I thought was a waiting room, which was empty. “We are going to move through this appointment quickly I thought.” WRONG! 45 minutes later the receptionist called us and pointed us down the hallway to a second waiting area. We were shocked to find 12 people in this waiting room to see the ‘tech’ then the doctor. Another 45 minutes, and finally he is called in for his eye exam, which took all of about 15 minutes.

While watching the other patients in the waiting room, I was trying to determine how people were being called in for their exam. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason as patients who were there before us, were called after us. You know that is the case when you get the evil eye from someone sitting across the room from you when your name is called and their name is not. I could see the nurses, tech support, receptionist all fluttering around the office, but no one taking charge. Patients sitting there getting frustrated; receptionists with their glass window closed.

Soon TLO returned with the nurse who said, “Take a seat, Mr. Schiffer the doctor will see you soon!’  I said to him, “What’s up, did you not see the doctor?” “no,” he replied, “they just did the test, they will call us again to review with the doctor.”

Oh boy, more delays, there is just so much daytime TV one can take. How do people watch those judge shows?

Time continues to drag on, and on and on… Now we’re past two hours waiting in this office (as were many of the other patients) and we’re both started to get frustrated. One of the nurses approaches us wanting to know his primary care doctor and his previous eye doctor. “All that information is on the paperwork. What seems to be the problem” we said in unison. (Yes, he did put that info on the paperwork!) “Oh, we’re just waiting on the referral.” the doctor will not see you without the referral. YIKES!

One of the great things about TLO is that he follows up with his primary care physician on a regular basis when there is a need for a referral. He confirmed weeks prior to the appointment that the referral had been sent by his PCP.

Before I could even get to the receptionist to straighten out this mess, TLO had beaten me to the punch.  Let us just say that we have two very diverse ways in handling conflict. I will let your imagine run wild about his loud and direct conversation with the receptionist!

Two and a half hours into our extended stay at the eye doctor’s thumbsdownoffice, we finally just left. 

We have reported the eye doctor to our primary care physician so that they do not make any more referrals to that office. Knowing that they have the needed referral, we have also reported the eye doctor to our insurance company because we are both confident that they will bill for the appointment.

Time is a precious commodity. Too often time waiting in doctors’ offices is wasted by the inefficiency of the staff; we have all experienced it. But how do we combat it?

  • Always tell the doctor about your positive and/or negative experience with staff or office procedures; often doctors are the last ones to know. It is their reputation!
  • Always tell the referring physician about a positive/negative experience with a referral they  have made.
  • When going to a new doctor, always ask for the paperwork in advance of the appointment to help expedite the wait time.
  •  Inform your insurance provider of a problem with a referral.
  • Always double-check with your PCP to make sure that the referral has been made.

I would love to hear what you do to combat wasted time at the doctor’s office.

You seeWe Might Have Cancer, But Cancer Does Not Have Us!

About Chris

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  1. Avatar of Sue

    That is really frustrating. Sometimes waits are understandable (e.g. emergency situations or even clinics where they don’t exactly know what to expect from appointments), but it seems like this place was just pure incompetence. I hate incompetence. I always want to offer my services in making them more efficient (I studied Organizational Communication). You just wonder how people stay in business. And it seems like sick people deserve better…already spending so much of their time waiting…I’m glad you reported them.

  2. Avatar of Casandra

    Yikes! That was a lot of “unnecessary unnecessary” as my Mom would say. This is a huge problem with most doctors offices. They have convoluted procedures that seem to add more frustration than not.

    We had a really amazing ENT who was courteous and a straight shooter and we both adored him but we had to leave him because 80% of the time we dealt with his office staff and they were 90% of our major frustration. Since we left the office, we’re both a little less fearful of having to visit his doctors. They caused that much stress that we even dreaded the thought of having to call them or even visit.

    I’ve gotten our time with Marc’s doctor’s visits down to a Science. We typically see one doctor per week and have a new referral once a month. His insurance, however, is a PPO and therefore cuts out the necessity of having an actual referral slip filled out and sent to the office of the specialist we are seeing. The same with his dental and vision care. I’ve worked in the medical field long enough to know that while HMOs are typically cheaper, paying the extra for the convenience of a PPO (if one has that type of money) is much better.

    We have a pre-packed bag waiting for us for doctor’s visits. Yes, just as if one has packed a bag for the delivery of a child. We have an ER visit bag (because usually they end in him being admitted for days on end) and then we have the doctor visit bag. Each equipped with a change of clothing, books and spare chargers (for phones, iPods/iPads, and his hand held video game (PS Vita and DS). I know, right? Madness. But we both get bored easily.

    I ALWAYS try to have the paperwork filled out and returned and verified that it has been received at least a week BEFORE an appointment, if possible. But, just in case, I have ALL of his medical information streamlined, specifically for filing out paperwork in my purse, outlining everything for medication changes, doses, to hospitalizations, allergies and doctors names, addresses and fax/phone numbers. Even though we know most by heart, there is always the chance we forget something or they “misplace” our paperwork (which has happened on several occasions).

  3. Avatar of ejourneys

    Oh, I’m sorry you got such shoddy treatment. Good for you for reporting it to the PCP and insurance!

    TLO’s “I’m too old to remember…” cracks me up. :-)

    Like Casandra, we’ve got our own meds list and medical history documents that we update. Makes a huge difference, especially since my partner takes a long time filling out the forms (adding every detail including the kitchen sink and the Brooklyn Bridge). Also, whenever we see a new doctor we check to see if the doc has a website. Those who do tend to have new patient info forms available for downloading in advance.

    For long waiting room waits, my journal notebook, eReader, and earplugs (to blunt the sound of those %$#@&! TVs) have been invaluable. I hope you get hold of a good eye doctor soon. (((Hugs)))

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