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Letter to Rheumatologist that treated me like ......

Jul 08, 2010 - 13 comments

I could have written more in the letter but I had teenage kids hanging over my shoulder anxious to get on the computer so I wrote what I could. Here is a copy of the letter. I hope they don't take his name out or delete this because people should know about him and more than likely the only ones who will read this are my friends and they don't live here!!! I left off his address!

Dear Dr. Elston,
I am writing this letter to you in regards to comments you made to me personally during my last office visit on June 23rd, 2010.

I had come to you due to a positive ANA test that my neurologist, Dr. Augustine Joseph, had ordered. You also ordered a variety of lab work and a whole body bone scan, all of which came back normal or negative. That was encouraging. However, after that, you made the comment “Why did your doctor send you to me” Hello, he sent me to you because I had a positive ANA test.

I was sitting in your office in horrible pain in my neck, shoulders and upper arms and was near tears. I asked you if it could be fibromyalgia (a legitimate question to ask a Rheumatologist) and your reply was “Fibromyalgia is a psychosomatic illness and I don’t believe in it”.  The previous year when I had visited your office and told you that I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you made the same comment and that was the reason I did not return to your office. Unfortunately for me, you are the only doctor covered by my insurance so I was forced to see you again.

Below is a direct quote from the Mayo Clinic regarding Fibromyalgia:

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by widespread pain in your muscles, ligaments and tendons, as well as fatigue and multiple tender points — places on your body where slight pressure causes pain.
Fibromyalgia occurs in about 2 percent of the population in the United States. Women are much more likely to develop the disorder than are men, and the risk of fibromyalgia increases with age. Fibromyalgia symptoms often begin after a physical or emotional trauma, but in many cases there appears to be no triggering event.

Widespread pain and tender points
The pain associated with fibromyalgia is described as a constant dull ache, typically arising from muscles. To be considered widespread, the pain must occur on both sides of your body and above and below your waist.
Fibromyalgia is characterized by additional pain when firm pressure is applied to specific areas of your body, called tender points. Tender point locations include:
 Back of the head
 Between shoulder blades
 Top of shoulders
 Front sides of neck
 Upper chest
 Outer elbows
 Upper hips
 Sides of hips
 Inner knees
Fatigue and sleep disturbances
People with fibromyalgia often awaken tired, even though they seem to get plenty of sleep. Experts believe that these people rarely reach the deep restorative stage of sleep. Sleep disorders that have been linked to fibromyalgia include restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.
Co-existing conditions
Many people who have fibromyalgia also may have:
 Chronic fatigue syndrome
 Depression
 Endometriosis
 Headaches
 Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
 Lupus
 Osteoarthritis
 Post-traumatic stress disorder
 Restless legs syndrome
 Rheumatoid arthritis
Obviously, there is more on the Mayo Clinic website, but I do believe I have made my point.  There is no excuse for a doctor that specializes in the above co-existing conditions to tell me that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia is “all in my head”.  You are a disgrace to doctors in general and to rheumatologists in particular.
I will be sending copies of this letter to the following organizations to which you belong.  They need to be made aware of the complete inconsideration, rudeness and cockiness of your attitude and treatment.
Respectfully submitted,

Colleen Richardson

Cc:  American College of Rheumatology
       American College of Physicians (Internal Medicine)



Comments
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194838 tn?1303432144
by silver&gold, Jul 08, 2010
I,m really glad that you decided to to write this letter Colleen, that Doctor should be ashamed of his himself ! . He needs a few lessons on how to treat his patients with the respect they deserve.
Too many Doctors get away with far too much especially when people feel vulnerable because they are feeling ill so I,m pleased you are making a stand.
Take care

Love
Angie

Avatar universal
by davidvd59, Jul 08, 2010
Many Doctors practice in the United States that do not belong here. File complaints with your medical clinic CEO and your Board of Professional Responsibility, while government doesn't do anything, it does send a message. Send the CEO a copy of your Board complaint.

773755 tn?1328123377
by acker, Jul 09, 2010
good one!! you're doing him a favour - should send him the bill for educating him. he gives quacks a bad name.
take care

329994 tn?1301666848
by lvfrogs, Jul 09, 2010
Thank you Angie and Acker, I appreciate the good words. I did it for me, if for nothing else, and I did feel better about it!!!
and Davidvd59, thank you. I will look up the Board of Professional Responsibility if I can find it, good idea!!!

Hugs all,
colleen

187666 tn?1331176945
by ireneo, Jul 09, 2010
If he is part of a hospital group, you could send it to the patient advocate as well as the hospital board - whoever is his superior there. They probably won't discipline him but it should go in his record. A patient advocate will go to bat for you and help you get the care you need.

I wonder if you should contact your insurance group and let them know this doctor on their list is not helpful and even crosses the line to being rude? Perhaps they'll let you visit a different rheumy. Just a thought.

irene

329994 tn?1301666848
by lvfrogs, Jul 09, 2010
Irene,
Thank you. I didn't think about the hospital but I will do that for sure.  and of course, I should contact my insurance group. They are terrible, only have a couple doctors for each profession. I already called the other one listed and they wouldn't even take me as soon as I said I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (came out in questioning). Anyway, the neurologist is great and so is my primary so I am good for now, don't need a different rheumy but if I ever do, will just go out of network.

Thanks!
Colleen

485259 tn?1519050626
by painterchic, Jul 09, 2010
Collen,
You are such a gift to all of us, the champion of the underdog, the provider of information and support and the "up yours" letter writer to doctors who deserve it!!  I am sure you have saved someone somewhere from enduring  the same treatment, if only by remembering your experience and having the courage to stick up for themselves. And if all ends well, perhaps that doctor got the wake up call he needed and serves his patients with respect going forward. Way to go, I am proud of you for taking the time and having the courage to do what many of us seem to wish we had done.

Thank you!
Joelle

483733 tn?1326802046
by TrudieC, Jul 09, 2010
You must feel awesome getting that anger onto paper.  You go girl!  Wish I had taken similar actions 16 years ago with my gastro doctor.  It is not healthy to hold this anger inside and you are dealing with this well by letting it loose as well as helping others.  Love you so much!

Trudie

Is it legal to video your doctor and you? If so would it not be more effective to have it on the internet? This way there is no defense. If he does not treat, what is wrong with you than how can your insurance pay him? Right now I am refusing to pay a doctor and will go to small claim court. The doctor needs my permission to bill the insurance I have.

Avatar universal
by Jenna2010, Jul 10, 2010
I was referred to a Rheumatologist myself by not only by Neurosurgeon, but by several othopedic surgeons who have treated specific areas of my body, by my treating doctors while I was hospitalized, by other doctors over several years when I didn't believe I had RA because it didn't run in my family, and I had positive results as well (the last being from when I was hospitalized) and this so-called Board Certified doctor asked me why I was there?  He had brochures regarding his seminars about psychosomatic illnesses & how they are not really a medical problem, and thus, suggest an alternative lifestyle of fitness, diet, etc. to eliminate the "so-called disease." Well, I was a diet/fitness guru until I started to suffer bouts of severe pain where I could no longer stand before I sought help & I wasn't depressed with my life.  In fact, it was the happiest time of my life as far as my career & family before my health declined drastically.  Because of doctors like these I have spent thousands of dollars & subsequently lost my house, my career, & then my health insurance (in that order) so I'm restricted to be able to see anyone with what limited resources I now have. Yes, I thank God I'm not in a third world country but I'm tired of dealing with doctors who have a "God Complex" and hope higher ethical standards can be implemented.  I used to be a CPA & am well aware of the scandalous activities that my profession has been engaged in, however, I also know that the AICPA swiftly responded by issuing tougher ethical standards to stop, or at least severely deter these (what I like to call) immoral practices.  I mean isn't people lives just as important as money (it should be more)?  I don't see the same happening in the medical profession, in fact, I only see it getting worse.  I'm looking to other countries where I can be adequately treated for my RA, which also includes Fibromyalgia & CFS (75% of RA sufferers also have these diseases).  I don't plan to lose anymore of my life to idiot "doctors" like these for their ego.  In any event, I'm glad you took a stand.  I wish everyone could not only be as strong as you but also follow through as you did to help bring these matters to light where maybe the proper attention will finally (or the proper authority) at least attempt to rectify the situation. In the meantime, I wish you all the best & keep staying strong!  People like me REALLY appreciate it.  

329994 tn?1301666848
by lvfrogs, Jul 10, 2010
Joelle and Trudie, you know how I feel about you both and you both are certainly strong enough to do this too. When I get mad about something, I like to put it on paper and send it to whomever or to the editor of our local paper. I have had several letters published where there was stuff going on in our schools, etc.  BUT this one I had to write. I have had so much support on this too from perfect strangers that have given me other ideas of where to complain so am now filing a formal complaint with the Florida Board of Medicine too. Nothing may come of this but hopefully, it will do some good, at the very least it makes me feel better to speak up about him and of course, if anyone ever asks me for a referral, they will get the full story!!

Insurancemedicalmalpractice, I will not be going back so there will be no video. Not sure how someone could do that, he certainly wouldn't allow it but it would open people's eyes if they could actually see and hear how he is.

Jenna2010, thank you too for responding, although I am saddened by your story. It is similar to mine in that I was perfectly healthy 5 years ago, no problems whatsoever, so no, none of my health issues are "in my head" as he implied.  It really hurts to read your story and see what has happened to you. We live in the United States - there is no excuse for anything like this to happen.  I hope you can find the proper treatment for you RA and also be able to afford it. Very sad to read about what you have been through, I am sorry!!

Hugs to all,
Colleen

PS: If I should hear back from anyone about this, I will update the journal


Avatar universal
by helenl89, Jul 11, 2010
I'm  so glad u did this! It's about time people take a stand, and tell others we are not going to put up with it. LastI year I had the oprppurtunity to run into the dr, who said . I was fine, when in turn I had ovc. I laid into him like you would never believe.. It felt so good. I gave him a peice of my mind, and something to really think about. It probably was nothing to him, but I felt so much better afterwards

1377776 tn?1279012121
by NikoK, Jul 12, 2010
Brava!!

What a wonderful letter of self-advocation and research.

I don't know where you live but I would be happy to help you connect to someone- having worked as a researcher in the industry forever (it seems), maybe I could help get you a referral to someone who will HEAR YOU- although after that letter, I think he might pay attention to your needs.

Don't stop fighting for the dignity of your health- your life- and contact me if I can help you at all.  
Well done xoxoxoxox

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