Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The doctor will see you now.

I am not a fan of doctors.

Now I'm not talking the person. Truth be told, the doctors I've spent the most time with are pretty nice people. But their job makes them...well, annoying.

I really dislike the fact that you have to go through an appointment before you can get anything. Need to see a specialist? Sorry, have to have an appointment with that primary doctor first. Need antibiotic? Sorry, have to drag your sick self into their office before you get any glimpse of relief.


It sure seems like primary doctors are passing just about everything onto specialists these days too. Got a sniffle that won't go away? Better go see the ENT doctor. Skin has patchy red spots? Better get to a dermatologist.

What happened? Did primary care physicians start getting sued like crazy so now they just reliquish all responsibility? Or are specialists sending them really big baskets of chocolate and muffins?

Seems like any visit to the doctor lately is a 30-30 plan. 30 dollars of a copay and 30 seconds of a doctor's time. Basically, you're left with a piece of paper and an appointment to see someone who may be able to actually help you. (And I emphasize the word 'may'.)

But then you go to that specialist appointment - you know, the one that took 3 months to get into in the first place - only to spend about 3 nanoseconds with the guy and have him say, "Come back in 2 weeks and we'll do some tests."

Huh?!? I didn't need a formal introduction to Dr. Earnsalot. One that cost me another $30, I might add. Would it be so wrong to actually take care of the problem on the first visit?

Problem is you expend so much time and energy trying to work the appointment into your schedule, only to find out you'll have to come back again so the dear doctor can actually do something.

My daughter had a procedure done this summer ...on the 2nd visit, of course. The first visit was merely a short chat with a doctor whose first language was certainly not English. In fact, Rachel kept asking, "How do you know what he's saying, Mom? He's not speaking English." I shushed her as my cheeks turned a lovely shade of crimson... where she was surrounded by nurses ready to put things into motion.

But we had to wait.

For yet another doctor.

Who pushed a button and then left.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! I was in such a state of shock at what I just witnessed, I said, "Wow. I want his job. He walks in, pushes a button, exits, and collects his check." A couple nurses replied with nervous chuckles, and one just nodded.

So essentially the nurses did all the work but Mr. Whitecoat gets all the glory. So not fair.

Because I'm beginning to question the competency of today's physicians.

Case in point: the annual physical. We're supposed to get one of these every year - thus the term annual, hello. I worked for a health insurance company once and learned that 'preventative care' is what keeps health care costs manageable - the theory that if you see a doctor regularly so they can catch any problems, it saves a ton of money in the long run. Makes sense. So our insurance company encouraged one annual exam per year, covered at 100%.

Naturally, I send my husband to the doctor.

The nurse takes his vitals and asks him what he's there for.

"I'm just in for a physical."

She pauses.

"Are there any concerns you have?"

"No, not really."

"Okay, the doctor will be right in." Which is standard dialogue apparently, as it is what we hear regardless if the doctor truly will be right in - like THAT ever happens - or if there are 14 other patients ahead of you.

As he sits in the stark, cold exam room, my husband begins to hear voices outside the door.

"Why's he here?"

"He said for a physical."

"A physical? You mean there's nothing wrong with him?"

"He said he has no concerns."

"So there is nothing to diagnose?"

After painful silence, the door swings open.

To make a long story short, this doctor has no clue what to do with a patient only wanting an 'annual physical.' He literally asked my husband what he'd like him to do.

Um, gee. I thought YOU were the expert on this, doc.

Not that it comes as any surprise, but we were not billed for an annual exam covered at 100%. The guy dug up some tidbit to use as an ailment and jotted down a diagnosis, thus leaving our wallets lighter yet again.

This incident happened prior to children. Once you have children, the whole medical game intensifies.

Because, let's face it. Kids are germ magnets and if it isn't an ear infection or strep, it's swine flu or pneumonia.

I just wish doctors would do what makes sense. Let me come in with one kid, and then prescribe enough medication to cover all three. Frankly, it is only a matter of time before they all get it.

Or trust me that I know what is wrong with my kid sometimes and call in the prescription. Enough with this, "Come in for an appointment first" nonsense. Come on. Moms know. I'm not an idiot. One kid gets pink eye...two days later another one has red, goopy eyes. Duh. Would it be so hard to think I may actually know you need to call in the eyedrops prescription?

One day last Fall I had to literally beg for a new prescription for my daughter. She had an infection, so she was prescribed the typical antibiotic. Her face swelled up so much that she looked like the Elephant Man.

So obviously, I call the doctor.

"Her face is swollen? Well, are her eyes itchy?"


"Okay, well let's stick to this prescription and see what happens."

So I reluctantly send her off to school. (Fortunately, it's just kindergarten. Had she been in junior high she would never live this down.)

I do some checking on the internet and become convinced she's having an allergic reaction to the medication. I grab the Benadryl and head to her school.

Her eyelids are merely slits at this point.

She tips back the Benadryl and I pray she won't go blind by recess.

After I arrive home, I call the doctor and explain that my daughter cannot continue on that medication for another minute.

"Oh. Okay. Yeah, she's probably allergic."

Her nonchalance makes me want to reach through the phone and tighten that stethescope.

"I'll call in a different prescription."

I know people like to joke that doctors are "practicing medicine," but sometimes I think there may be some truth to that.

And that's annoying.

Because I'm a walking pharmacy these days, and I just wish someone knew how to fix the problems instead of creating more.

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