Hi everyone, this is my first time posting here, but you seem like a very helpful, nice community. I have been going to the same PM doctor for almost three years. For about the past six months the staff, particularly the receptionist has become increasingly unprofessional. I put up with it initially because I absolutely LOVE my doctor and I have a very complicated case & am on injection type meds. Everyone knows how hard it is to find a good doctor so I really didn't want to switch. Also, it is very difficult-nearly impossible to find a doctor to prescribe that type of medication. Unfortunately, it's the only thing that helps and I have been on it for over six years. Anyway, at first, the receptionist kept giving me a hard time telling me that I was taking too long with the doctor and threatening that if I didn't hurry up that she was going to double the cost of my visit. My doctor is very thorough and takes his time and asks lots of questions-how am I supposed to hurry him up? Also, my visit is already $200 every 28 days-sometimes I wait for hours and hours. I did what I could to speed up the visits; as there is no way that I can afford $400 but she kept at me. She went so far as to spread my medical diagnosis to like 20 people in the waiting room saying that they have cancer patients that don't take as long and saying out loud where everyone can hear what my problem is. After this happened twice, I pulled her aside and politely asked her to please not violate my privacy. She claimed to be having a bad day. It got worse and worse. For one thing, for the past year or so, they have not been taking any vital signs before I go in (or anyone). I thought this was wierd and asked my doctor to see my chart- lo and behold there were numbers filled in every month just a point or two or a pound or two different. I was shocked that the receptionist was falsifying my medical records! About three months ago they started taking them again. I had gained weight over the past year, but my records show that I gained 25 lbs in four weeks! Two months ago I came in for my regular appointment and found out that my doctor was out of town. I had been PROMISED that I would NEVER have to see a different doctor. I requested that my appointment be rescheduled but the receptionist refused. I was told that this doctor would follow what I had been getting. Well, when I saw him he cut my meds by %70! He also said that I had to get a new MRI & go see a neurologist. I went to a neurologist for three years almost weekly there is nothing else they could possibly do. I went along with it figuring my doctor would straighten out the situation the next month. The alternate doctor also made all sorts of inappropriate comments to me including about my religion. It was so horrible and humiliating. He also said that my doctor was senile and didn't know what he was doing. The next month when I came in I told my doctor what happened and he basically straightened everything out. On the way out he handed my chart to the receptionist and gave her the information about my next appointment. As I was leaving, he gave me a hug and kiss and then asked me "what did the other doctor say about me?" I leaned over about an inch from his ear and whispered some of what was said. He gave me a hug and said he would see me soon. When I went to pay and get my scripts, the receptionist started screaming at me that she was so mad at me and that she heard what I said about doctor so and so. There was no way she heard me. First of all, there was a wall between us. Secondly, I whispered. The most she could have heard was his question. What's the difference if she heard me? What goes on between my doctor and me is confidential. She has absolutely no medical qualifications-why should she make decisions about my medical care? She screamed so everyone could hear that I had better give her my money quickly or she would throw me out. It was a horrible scene. I left not knowing what to think. I didn't receive a letter or anything so when my appointment came around I went in and was told that I had to leave. I requested my medical records and was refused. She said that the only way I could get them was to go to another doctor and sign a release. I told her I wanted them for myself and was told that I couldn't have them. I really don't know what to do. I feel like my HIPPA rights have been violated and that my health has been put into jeopardy by an unprofessional staff. I have no way to talk to my doctor without going through her. I'm considering contacting a lawyer. The truth is I don't want to find another doctor it's going to be a huge hassle. I don't think they should get away with treating me that way. I am so frustrated and upset. Sorry for going on so long but I wanted to give the details to get an honest opinion. Thank you so much.
Thanks, Sarajmt :) I can't talk to my doctor because there's no way to get past the receptionist! I'm seriously freaking out. I found a gmail.com address for my doctor on the department of health website but I'm afraid to contact him that way... BTW, my doctor doesn't own the PM office, but he is the medical director... Also, if they keep refusing me my records what can I do? I'm not working right now and getting new tests and going to first consultations trying to find a decent doctor is a nightmare. That's why I put up with all of the BS at this office for so long... Thanks
What if you were to go to the office, ask for your records, and just start quoting regulations very loudly until one of the doctors walked out and you could talk to them?
She has already violated your rights. You should have told your doctor what was going on a long time ago!
But I do want to say this. Your relationship with your doctor sounds slightly unprofessional. I'm glad you're close, but when he is giving you medications that you say are "hard to find elsewhere" it does make it look bad. If it is very difficult to find a doctor to give you a particular medication, there is often a good reason. I understand that this isn't what you want to hear, but when we put up with really odd, not-quite-right situations so we can get a particular medication, sometimes we need to ask ourselves why?
Just to be clear, I wasn't putting up with the office situation in order to get that specific medication. I was originally prescribed that med by my neurologist for almost three years before I started seeing this doctor. Unfortunately, where I live, most pain doctors just 'rubber stamp' the same meds to everyone and don't care about individual patients' needs and differences. They also cater to a specific type of patient. I had some really horrible experiences with other doctors before I found this one. Honestly, everything was fine until this particular woman started working there. I could live without the particular medication I've been taking. As a matter of fact, I'm without it now. My quality of life just tanks. Unfortunately, nausea and vomiting are a constant part of my life, so oral meds aren't always a good option. I'm allergic to compazine and similar medications so the only option is Zofran which without insurance is about $40/tablet. I have used suppositories, but they don't come in the right dosage. Could you imagine using 3-4 suppositories at once? Gross(and nearly impossible to hold in btw). Really, I just feel like I have been mistreated by this office in a way that seems illegal and dangerous. Obviously, I will have to find a new doctor and if I have to change medications, I will. I have a history of kidney failure and any drastic change in my medication regimen can cause a serious, potentially deadly, reaction from my kidneys. That's another reason why I am so angry with this situation. My health has been jeopardized by the whim of someone whose sole job is supposed to be answering phones and making appointments!
I think that's what I'm going to to tomorrow am. I got the name of an attorney from my pharmacist (whom I trust VERY much) who is a friend of his and is a pharmacist as well as an attorney....
Thanks squirtatious ;)
Anyone think I would have a case? It's not money I'm looking for, although I've spent at least $20,000 there in the past three years, I just don't think that they should get away with treating me or anyone else this way. I only summarized what happened there was more...
I heard lots about other patients private medical issues, results of their drug tests etc..
Wow. It does sound like an awful situation. Can you call and ask to speak to an office manager or a nurse? Usually in any practice there's more than one person behind the desk.
Honestly, if it were me, I'd probably stand there and stare at the woman in disbelief and demand to see the office manager right then. Especially if there were a room full of patients who overheard her speaking about my health issues and being extremely rude. I would also tell the doctor and whoever in the office I could get ahold of. I'm guessing if she is that way with you, she's probably had other complaints.
I don't know if I neccessarily think it would be a court case. It's hard to prove that she did anything unless she intetionally wrote false things in your medical records, etc.
They have more than one office- I called the original office several times trying to get in touch with a woman who had helped me out after I saw that other doctor two months ago. I didn't get too specific here but he said some awful things to me in addition to cutting my meds by 70% in one month. Luckily, on any given month, I take much less then I'm actually prescribed--unless I'm having a horrible month. When I finally got in touch with her after the last incident with the receptionist- she wouldn't talk with me and just told me to find another doctor. When I asked her why, I was given no reason. She told me I'd have to talk to my doctor. So, I went in to the office- I was refused contact with the doctor & also my records. I was also threatened by security. The SECURITY GUARD told me that my doctor doesn't own the office (duh!) and explained that if I came back that they would call the cops! I was completely polite, never raised my voice & left after I confirmed that they were refusing me my records and a valid reason as to why I was being discharged. My friend witnessed the whole thing & actually video taped some of it with her phone. I'm afraid they're going to tamper with my records, like put a fake drug test in there or something. I'm going to call the lawyer & see if he can perhaps write a letter or compel them to give me my records in their entirety so there are no surprises when I go to another doctor and they confirm my DX etc...
Thanks everyone. I'm really freaking out.
Since you can't seem to actually get to speak to your doctor when you call the office, I wonder if writing a letter, marking the envelope PRIVATE and sending it CERTIFIED, RESTRICTED RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED would help. I'm not 100% sure, but I've heard that if you send it restricted like that, the ONLY person who can sign for it would be the person who it is addressed for - and that way you are SURE that it's your doctor who gets the letter and it doesn't get intercepted at the front desk like the phone calls. Not only would that way give you a way to let your doctor know what's going on (I have my doubts that he is aware of the situation at all - from what you've said, he seems like a good, caring doctor and I can't imagine he would keep staff like that around).
What she is doing is definitely against HIPPA regulations. Do you still have a copy of the HIPAA form they have every patient sign? If so, you could always make a copy of that, highlight pertinent areas of it adn attached it to the letter you send to the doctor.
She also absolutely was wrong when she told you to leave when you arrived for your appointment. It is NOT up to her to decide who shoudl and who should not see the doctor. If you don't receive a CERTIFIED letter from their office stating that you have been dismissed for violating office policies, etc (SHE'S the one violating them by revealing your medical information to the entire waiting room!), there's no reason why you wouldn't have shown up for your scheduled appointment and expected to see the doctor. If she said something like "you don't have an appointment scheduled", you simply could have pulled out your appointment card or paperwork noting the appointment information on it and shown her. My concern is, with the way you've said they already have tampered with your medical file, if she did kick you out of the office before you were seen by the doctor, she very well could notate in your file that you never showed up for the apointment, and that, in itself, could be grounds for dismissal from PM (for some offices) Some offices will permit a missed appointment once, maybe twice (for illnesses or emergencies), but not all do - some will not permit ANY missed appointments.
I'm not sure if the next step should be contacting a lawyer or trying writing the letter as I've suggested. I'd hate for you to engage the help of a lawyer at great expense and then in hindsight find out if it would have been something you could have handled on your own. However, whatever step you decide to take next, you need to make that step IMMEDIATELY - the longer you wait to contact the doctor himself, a) the more false information could be put into your file and b) it may look like you've been trying to come up with "reasons" and problems and that's why it took you a while to contact him.
As for your medical records, again, she is absolutely wrong - your medical records ARE YOURS - you have every right to have a copy of them - whether you are taking them to another physician or if they are for your own record/use. They cannot deny you getting a copy, but they CAN make you sign a release for them and they also can charge you a reasonable fee for the copy, and they may also say they need a certain amount of time in order to get the copies together (my ortho office requires a two week notice in order to get medical records).
You seem to grasp the situation. I've been reading up on the federal and state statutes on the sites that sarajmt posted. Great resources, by the way- I would highly recommend them. On my state's department of health website, I found a gmail address for my doctor, but I'm not sure if it's a great idea to contact him that way... I also found his home address, believe it or not, but I worry that it would be inappropriate to send him a letter there... Fortunately, I had a friend witness most of what went on, so if they say I missed my appointment or something she can verify that I was there. She can also verify their refusal to provide me with my records & to speak with my doctor. This office has always been pretty flexible with missing appointments, although, the last time I tried to reschedule my appointment I had to wait 10 days for a new one... NOT GOOD!
The other thing that I worry about is that I obviously need to see another doctor soon if they won't give me my records or take 30 days plus time to write letters- what if they send false information to the new doctor when I sign the release?
I have ALWAYS complied with everything that my PM office asked of me, I'm always polite, never ask for early refills etc... I am so disgusted & worried about winding up in the hospital because of a nasty receptionist whose last employer was something like a strip club (not kidding, she told me)! Unfortunately, my doctor does not own the practice, but is the medical director... Thank you for all of the suggestions any more would be welcome, as I have to do something TODAY...
He's in his 70's he always gives me a hug and kiss on the cheek. Very chaste. He's old enough to be my grandpa. Plus, no one has ever seen him do it. He just cares about me and I've been seeing him for years. No one knows about that detail except you guys, anyway. I know what you're saying, I once had a doctor tell me he loved me HUGE RED FLAG!! I left his office right away!! This is nothing like that though. My OB/Gyn used to kiss me on the cheek when I saw him, but again it wasn't anything sleazy, just friendly.
Unfortunately, as I haven't had insurance for close to two years, I no longer have a PCP.
Marley, I never even was thinking the sleazy route. It's just unprofessional for a doctor to place one patient on a different plane than another. It goes beyond the professional barrier. Does it go WAAAAYYYY beyond? Eh, probably not. But in this case, it's not going to help you.
Can you contact your state medical board and ask them if there is anything they can do to help?
That's what I'm trying to do. I have the numbers and I'm also trying to get in touch with an attorney today or tomorrow for advice. According to HIPPA they have up to 30 days to produce my records 60 if they ask for an extension. State law just says "a reasonable amount of time." If you do it through a lawyer they have a maximum of 10 days. I need to get into a doctor before I run out of meds and become VERY sick, so 30 days won't cut it.
Thanks everyone for your support. All advice is welcome!
Good luck! I would recommend calling doctor's offices now as you don't want to run out of meds (if you haven't run out already). The old doctor's office did say they would transfer the records to a new doc.
I know you don't know what they wrote and they may have written bad things, but right now you need to see a doctor and I believe that if you explain the situation (not in too much detail) in general terms, the new doctor should understand. Unfortunately, uncaring office staff are not a rare occurance with PM offices. It also seems to me that if that woman was awful with you she was probably also awful to other patients.
I just wouldn't go into it too much with the new doctor as it's never a good idea to complain about a previous doctor and I definetly wouldn't tell them you've consulted a lawyer unless it becomes something they need to know.
That way you can make sure you'll be taken care of while you deal with all the BS from the old office.
Also, about the office manager you said "When I finally got in touch with her after the last incident with the receptionist- she wouldn't talk with me and just told me to find another doctor."
That is very unprofessional behavior for an office manager. Usually office managers want to keep patients and keep them happy as well. I would try to call her again about this situation. As flower said, you may need to send a Certified Letter. If the office manager is rude then I would as for her boss. Usually in practices with many offices there are more than one office manger and more staff. I would continue calling until you can get in touch with someone reasonable to find out why they would allow a receptionist to treat a patient so badly to the point of losing a patient because of it.
Hey, just wanted to check in... I'm calling a doctor who happens to be my friend's cousin. I just don't want to go to a random office with no references. His office is also physician owned & operated so I shouldn't run into the same problems. Unfortunately my last MRI was almost four years ago and I'll need another one. Also, I should have my chart from my old neurologist which backs up my current treatment, in a few days. This office/offices has gotten so big in the past couple of years that I guess they feel one loyal patient is expendable. I was one of their first at their original office and have followed my doctor through three offices.
As I mentioned before, I found a gmail address for my doctor on the state department of health's website. Do you think it would be a good idea to try to contact him that way? If so, what should I say? I suffer from PTSD, although it has been under control for the past few years, I've been having panic attacks regularly since this fiasco started. Additionally, I am going to run out of meds soon. I still have several days worth of my long-acting med, but my BT meds are gone. I'm afraid for my kidneys.
I was originally prescribed those medicines by my past doctors for almost three years before I started seeing this doctor. Unfortunately, where I live, most Pain doctors are just 'rubber stamps' the same meds to everyone and don't care about individual patients' needs and differences. They also cater to a specific type of patient. I had some really horrible experiences with other doctors before I found this one. Honestly, everything was fine until this Dr. sent me to Thomasville Pain Center in Thomasville Ga.. so now Im with out Pain meds My quality of life just stinks. Unfortunately, pain are a constant part of my life, so oral meds are the only option. I'm allergic to most of the so called pain medicines that are supposed to be used to treat depression and seizers and similar medications so the only option is to suffer Really, I just feel like I have been mistreated by this office in a way that seems illegal and dangerous. My health has been jeopardized by the whim of someone whose sole job is supposed to be helping me would someone please help me with this
Wow it has been a long time since this happened but I am so shocked. I was an office manager for a very busy surgeon for over 6 years before I started working at our local hospital I started in the business office, worked ER, Administration and then found my niche in Quality/Risk/Patient satisfication/JCAHO compliance/MIDAS systems manager wow I was busy plus worked on many medical staff committees and peer review. But your case is one of the top ten worst cases I have heard! Yes you should email him, write him at home, leave a note on his car. That lady is wrecking his practice when she yelled at you in front of other patients how awful for not only you but for them too! She needs to be fired and she can be sued for what she did! Of course you have every right to your medical records, call the AMA American Medical Association and tell them your story (minus the hug and kiss). Is he a Pain .specialist? I would of gone to the surgeons that caused you this pain and asked them to help you get your records and to help control your pain until you can find a good Pain MD. I am sure three years later this has been resolved and you probably won't even get this but I was so taken back by that lady's behavior and that she wrote false information in your chart, but the doctor is responsible to ensure the information is correct as she is working under his license and he could be in big trouble for that and needs to know what she is doing. A nanny cam in the office might be a good investment for him, but he should always double check the information. Like I see you have gained 25 lbs in a month can you tell me why? Lets check your blood pressure as weight gain can often cause your blood pressure to elevate. What state do you live in. I hope you get this as I wold love to hear how you are doing.
I accidentally sent my message to Hunne1997 I know you posted several years ago but I was so shocked to hear what happened to you I had some suggestions and I wanted to check on you to see how you are.
If you find another doctor you want to change to then have that doctor request your records.He/she will get more accurate records then you will. My doctor left out what he wanted to and gave me the rest.
I also had my gynecologist,(wife) who is married to my gastroenterologist (husband), go home and discuss my health problem to her husband. Because she did not know how to help me and neither did he they wanted to send me to a Cleveland Clinic.
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