I do a lot of ranting about the medical field. I suppose it’s funny that I’m trying to train to be IN the medical field – I’m going to radiology school! – but my problems with the industry aren’t with medicine or science, it’s with the people who try to run it.
So here is my latest…
I don’t think I would be writing about this, I probably wouldn’t even be thinking about this, if it weren’t for the fact that over the years, I’ve conferred with many, possibly hundreds, of people with medical conditions that force them to deal with health practicioners regularly. I’ve been on blogs, forums, run communities and talk in person with so many people about all the issues surrounding health care and there is one thing that comes up again and again as a common experience. Shitty office personnel.
Here is a small list of grievances I have heard over and over
1) attitude – It blows my mind how many medical staff seem to think that because they work in a health care environment, they have the right to be terse, rude and callous towards the people who are forced to run their gauntlet. I suppose it is a positive feedback loop; patients have no choice but to put up with whatever treatment they are given and as such offfice personnel believe they have been given the right to treat patients any way they please. Perhaps it has to do with stereotyped perceptions – patients who contact office personnel often are in dire need by the time they show up and as such they may be anxious, angry, in pain, whining, or afraid and so the personnel believe they are the ones “putting up with” the patients. I worked retail for many years and I do know how shitty the genpop can be when they feel wronged or unsettled. But rather than make any attempt at placation or peace, office personnel seem to adopt a permanent emotional eye-roll towards “difficult types” despite the fact that those difficult types are probably the ones most in need of gentleness and understanding.
2) bad skills – apparently I am too good to work in a medical office. I’m pretty sure of this because medical offices were on my list as a “good job” for a long time yet they never once would call me for an interview. After experiencing one too many mishaps with my information and files I can only conclude that the medical office personnel ideal is someone with barely a 7th grade understanding of English, who types 10 wpm and only understands computers with Windows 95. Clearly phone trees are the devil’s work, putting someone on hold is more complicated than just hanging up on them and leaving a message is less reliable than sending a raven through a winter storm. I have been in situation my mouth literally agape at the sheer ineptitude an basic ignorance of logic a medical office personnel seems to have. Quick example: my insurance company wanted the date I would see a specialist before they would approve the visit. The office personnel of the specialist I was allowed to see would not book a firm date without insurance approval prior. I discussed this catch-22 with the office personnel of the medical specialist no less than three times each before finally succumbing to screaming the phone number of the insurance company’s rep then hanging up. Why was this so frustrating? Because while the insurance company rep understood the problem, they had no way of resolving it through ME, they needed to speak to someone at the office. But all anyone would do at the specialist’s office was repeat the mantra “We need approval before we can book the procedure” over and over as if saying it more times would unlock the holy sepulchre of insurance red tape and let the reimbursement monies rain down. I could not get them to call the insurance rep and when the rep tried to call them, they merely insisted they could not discuss the issue with them because HIPPA. It was maddening. Of course the real problem was that the office personnel had a few rules and to go by and nothing would make them waver from that script. Not even basic logic.
3) HIPPA violations -I’m not talking about violations like have been published in the news – stealing people’s info and selling it or whatever. I’m talking about secretaries and assistants essentially feeling entitled to your medical history and information and then insisting that you broadcast it all over the waiting room. It is has become a habit of mine now, when I am asked by the new person-with-a-badge “so what’s wrong? what brings you here?” to say immediately “no offense, but who are you? Are you my nurse? my doctor?” to remind them that I am under no obligation to tell them ANYTHING. Maybe it will make their job easier to know my details but that’s not my problem. If I don’t want to let the entire ER floor know that I’m shitting out massive quantities of green peanuts, it’s my right to keep that to myself until I’m talking to the person who is actually going to treat me. Yet, the lower down on the medical heirarchy you go, the more offended they will get when you assert your right to be close-mouthed. I ask for their credentials and it’s never the professionals who get mad. You know why? Because professionals know quite well how important it is to establish your credentials before taking control. But ask the person behind a desk why they needs to know the details of why you are standing in front of them, trying not to puke or bleed-out and watch them get huffy as a rooster.