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Old 04-01-2011, 06:40 PM   #1
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Exclamation Judgemental Office Staff!

Hi everyone-

I have been spending hours reading these posts, and it touches me how many of us are dealing with chronic pain issues, and all the problems that revolve around it as well. I have one of those stories.

I have been seeing my orthopaedist now for nearly a year. At first it was just for RSD in my left foot, which is awful enough; but now I have a dislocated shoulder that is now constantly dislocating and it seems as if I have a torn labrum too. My ortho has been so amazing, and has been so understanding of everything so far, and has been prescribing me Percocet to help with the pain (it doesn't cover it 100% however). This last visit he even gave me free x-rays and didn't charge me for the visit at all because he knows I just lost my insurance from my old job and am now waiting for new insurance; he's given me free samples of everything he can think of that might help, and tons of it, so that I won't have to pay for it. He even gave me the $140 foot boot I wear 24.7 for free, and is willing to talk to the MRI place he sends patients to to try and get me an MRI for dirt cheap because of my shoulder. So I must say that as of this date, I have nothing but praises and admiration for my doctor, and I know how rare that is for a PM patient to say!

My gripe is with the office staff.

Every single time I have to call for a refill on my Percocet (which is NEVER early BTW; if anything it is a day after. I don't want to abuse the privilege, you know?), I get an opinion on it from whomever has answered the phone. "Oh nooo, you shouldn't have taken the 80 pills he gave you yet, it's only been 15 days..." I then give them the arithmetic lesson for the day: "It's one pill every four hours, with a max of 6 a day. What's 80 divided by 6? It's 13, that's right. It's now day 15. So just ask him." But no, they don't. As a matter of fact, it seems as if they will come up with any excuse to mess with me and keep me from getting my meds. They've told me excuses like he hasnt checked his messages yet (he checks like almost after every patient he sees!), he will sign the script tomorrow (he's not in this office tomorrow!), he will call you (About what? He's never done so before when you said he would!), and more. I have talked with him before about this, to which he has said, "Tell them to just send me the message, and I will approve it, no problem." I actually had a harrowing three day ordeal with his staff over a refill - day one consisted of going to pick up the script on my way home from work, to be told it's not ready and he hasn't checked his messages yet, and it will be done tomorrow (Oh really? Why not just ask him, since he is standing ten feet away from you?!). The next day I had to call the downtown office to try all over again (since I knew the uptown one wasn't going to come through for me), which is where I had to give this Russian woman the aforementioned math lesson. She still said no, to which I immediately broke down crying and begged her just to ask him. Her response? "Doctor will call you" and then she pretty much hung up on me. I called right back to ask for the one medical assistant my ortho told me to ask for if I had issues, only to have her feed me pretty much the same thing. I was crying pretty good at this point. I knew my ortho wasn't calling me, but it wasn't on him, because I knew they were feeding me a line. I called back again and made an emergency appointment for the next morning to see him.

I saw him the next morning, where he took the free x-rays and did not charge me a cent for his time. I told him about the ordeals I have had to go through with the staff, and he told me he found out about it yesterday, and that he had talked to them about it and that they need to just put through my request for a refill and he would approve it, and to not do what they had done anymore. He wrote me a refill, thank goodness, but I was just so drained after having to go through all of that. Was that really necessary? Does anyone else have this, where the office staff seem to play games and/or judge you when you need a refill like that? If you have, what have you done to rectify it? It's not like I have ever called for a refill early or anything like that, so what's the need for acting like that? I pretty much get panic attacks every time I call for a refill now...

 
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Old 04-01-2011, 06:54 PM   #2
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Re: Judgemental Office Staff!

maybe it would be better to get your refills at your appt-this way you dont have to deal with the staff at all-it just another case of people who arent suffering with cp issues and think we should be able to take two asperin and all will be ok in the morning-dont let them get you rilied because they are trying to play dr i would speak to those two face to face next your in thier-at least your dr went to bat for ya-feel better-let us know how the mri turns out
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Old 04-01-2011, 11:57 PM   #3
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Re: Judgemental Office Staff!

Unfortunately, sometimes the front staff, are either doctor wanna be's or are on a power trip and like to control things. I had an experience once where I called in and left a message with the front desk that I needed a refill on muscle relaxers. I got a call back hours later but I was out of the house. The message she left on the phone was that my doctor was no longer prescribing these meds and if I needed them I should call my pain doc! This was left with a very nasty tone! Huh, he always wrote for my muscle relaxers. So I called back and asked to speak with the nurse that left the message and she just repeated what she had previously said and when I questioned why when he had prescribed these for years, all she had to say was that was what the doc said to do.

I called my husband all upset, not because of the meds but because of how I was being treated. He told me to immediately head over to the doctors office and he would meet me there. We told the front desk we needed to see the doctor. Of course she said there were no appointments and we said we needed to see him. She said she would let them know and I figured they wold make us wait until the last patient was seen but they didn't and we got in quite soon.

The doc walks in and asks what's up? Seriously?!!!! He had NO idea what had happened, the nurse NEVER even asked him about the med, she did that all on her own! I was livid!! His answer was that she had been with him forever and sometimes over steps her bounds. You think?!! Unbelievable! He had no problem what so ever filling the script. I think he did not confront his nurse and I didn't want to raise a huge stink since it was the first time it happened and it has never happened since.

So from now on I always ask to make sure they spoke with the doc before I get upset and I won't hesitate to go to their office to get it resolved!

 
Old 04-02-2011, 12:01 PM   #4
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Re: Judgemental Office Staff!

Wow. That is awful that they treat you that way. Is there any possible way that next time you call you could ask to talk to the doctor directly...and when the staff member asks why, you can say that it's private. I would try that. If they keep asking why, just say that you need to speak to the doctor, and it's private.

Also, please document all of this. Maybe you can email yourself exactly what has happened, and if it happens again, right after it happens, send an email to yourself documenting it word for word. Then, when you have an appointment, bring in those emails (which should be, in my opinion, written objectively, with no emotion), and show the doctor. Just list what you said and what the staff member said.

Hope this gets better. I would not want to put up with it, and be made to feel that way. Please keep us updated.

 
Old 04-02-2011, 03:08 PM   #5
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Re: Judgemental Office Staff!

I am really sorry you were treated this way. I too have had to same type of a problem with my ortho's staff. Ok so I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It's a rare connective tissue disorder that causes many painful problems. I have dislocated my right shoulder 6 times, my left shoulder 3 times, knees, elbows, fingers, you name it. I also have had L4-5 discs replacement. Advanced osteoarthritis too.

About a month ago my ortho sent me to pain management mainly for failed back surgery (l4-5 level. placement is off or something) He also asked me at that time did I need any pain meds, and I said "no right now I am ok." So I go to the pain clinic who at first would not rx anything until they tried a block. Well long story short, I dislocated my left shoulder again a few days after that appointment. I was in agony(now know I have nerve damage b/c e.r. left it out for 4 hours before doing anything) so I called his staff to see if he would call me in some lortabs or something(which he told me to do if my pain worsened for any reason)

I was told by the nurse that he sent me to pain management for my shoulders and arthritis(which is not true, he sent me to pm for my back) and that she would not even ask him to call me in anything. Keep in mind I have been to this ortho over 40 times in the last 5 to 6 years, and not once did I ask for more pain medication than what he rx during a visit. In fact many times I refused to take any, because I felt my pain could be controlled with otc meds. I tried my best to explain all of this to her. My pm doctor did not have me under any type of pain contract either. I even called them to make sure it was ok to accept meds from him, even though I was not receiving meds from them. She just kept telling me that since you are on lortab there is nothing we can do for you. I WAS NOT EVEN ON LORTAB!!! I kept trying to explain this to her, and she kept repeating herself. I literally started thinking she was either high or drunk!

So I suffered for the next two weeks. On my next app. I told my doc about everything, and reminded him that I have never asked for a refill or anything like that. He apologized and wrote me 60 lortabs and actually gave me 2 refills (which I never even got filled) He then left the room and my mom and I (i'm only 22) heard him chewing the nurse out. He actually made her come in the room and apologize herself! He then sent me for a m.r.i. (for little to nothing out of pocket for me) which revealed a torn labrum and significant nerve damage. Anyway, like I said I am really sorry you had to go through all of that. I can promise you your not alone though. I am only 22 so I think at times it can be a lot worse for me that someone in their 30's,40's and on.

Chronic pain patients have enough to deal with w/o someone who has probably never been in true pain a day in their life casting judgements. To hell with those people. Luckily like me, you seem to have a great ortho and his opinion is the only one that really counts. Hopefully, you will not have this problem out of them again. (I would be willing to bet your doc let them have it, like mine did.)

 
Old 04-02-2011, 09:12 PM   #6
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Re: Judgemental Office Staff!

Yeah I am only 25 so I am sure they probably think I am just looking for pills but that's not the case. I actually used to have a problem with pills back in high school, but back then I didn't have the chronic pain issues that I do now (I had three knee surgeries). That actually makes me extremely self aware of the potential for problems, so I watch how much I take and I really don't want to be labelled as an addict when I actually legitimately rely on the meds to be able to work and basically just live, period. I basically get panic attacks every time I have to call for a refill on my meds because of the staff. My ortho has been amazing so far, so I really don't want to jeopardize the help he has been giving me when it is so very hard to find it to begin with. The thing that really sucks is that the staff at his office are the people that I have to deal with and talk to first no matter what, so even if I did ask to talk to my doctor if they were giving me issues they probably would never tell him. I just feel like they play these games with me because they are judging me, thinking I don't need the meds, and doing whatever they can to undermine me and/or my ortho. They don't have the MD, so why do they feel like they can do what they want regarding my treatment? I have not once called early for a refill or anything, so why must I be treated in such a horrible way? I don't even call the day before for a new script, I call the day of. But yet one of the excuses I get is that I "finished the pills early". I have to end up giving them the math lesson I had described before, trying to show them that I have taken them exactly as prescribed. But yet, the problems persist.

Even though my ortho said that when he found out what happened he told them to put my request through, he would approve it, and to stop what they were doing, I feel like I need to make an appointment every time I need a refill so that way I won't have to deal with the staff. Why is it that us chronic pain patients have to be vilified even though we haven't given a reason to be treated that way?

Conductor2244 - From what my ortho has said, it seems as if I have a torn labrum as well. My shoulder constantly dislocates at even the slightest thing, and crunches, pops, clicks, and catches even besides. What is your ortho suggesting in regards to a treatment plan? Mine wants an MRI naturally, but is saying that with my shoulder dislocating as frequently as it has been, that it is more than likely to need surgery. I was just wondering if you are heading down that same type of path as well, and what the surgery is like. I wish you the best of luck with it, from one who can sympathize!

 
Old 04-03-2011, 08:39 PM   #7
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Re: Judgemental Office Staff!

There is no reason whatsoever that anybody should put up with an attitude from the office staff. They are support staff -they are not physicians. I had one go around with my doctor's office staff, and I ended it very quickly. They thought they were going to prevent me from talking to him and letting him know how I was being treated, but I'm pretty persistent, and once they found out that I won't let them walk all over me, they never pulled any stunts like that again. I couldn't care less what the office staff thinks; as I said, they are not physicians. They can think whatever they wish about me, but they quickly learned that I'm not at all afraid to stand up for myself. I did it very respectfully but firmly. Most aren't used to someone refusing to be treated as if I was an inconvenience to them. If anything like that happens to you again, let us know. You're the patient (customer) and you have every right to expect courteous and respectful treatment from everyone.

 
Old 04-03-2011, 09:08 PM   #8
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Re: Judgemental Office Staff!

Sorry that you are being judged & are made to feel anxious about calling the office (which should be a "safe-zone" for chronic pain patients). I believe that as a cp patient, this will happen to all of us MANY TIMES in our lifetime. As someone else on here once said, it comes with the territory. It's a real shame.

Unfortunately there are patients out there that are MESSING THINGS UP for the rest of us. A friend of mine works in a PM doctor's office and she tells me how many times some patients call the office in just ONE DAY when waiting for pain medication. And its not that they are calling for an early refill or are trying to get their dosage increased.... they are just literally "hounding" the office due to impatience.These are usually repeat-offenders. On the other hand, my friend also has told me about patients who have manipulated the staff & doctors to get meds early and/or from multiple doctors. These patients are eventually weeded-out by either breaking contracts/failing urine drug tests/noncompliance issues. But i know how sympathetic my friend is regarding pain matters, so she gets upset when a patient "pulls one over" on the office. as I see it, I'm just as mad at these patients as I am about the health care workers who "judge" patients.

Oh, FYI....In my PM doctor's office, there is ONE receptionist assigned to EACH DOCTOR. It works-out great because there is almost no communication problems, & I'm fully aware who is responsible for handling any messages I leave for my doctor. (She's a FANTASTIC receptionist....without any doubt, I KNOW my doctor will receive my message within the next hour).
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Old 04-04-2011, 12:35 AM   #9
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Re: Judgemental Office Staff!

I will definitely let all of you know if this happens again, trust me! But hopefully they will be betterfrom here on out, who knows. But if I do encounter any hassles from them anymore, I told myself I will let my ortho know if it seems like it is grossly disproportionate to any kind of decent and truthful behaviour. Do you think that is enough? I don't know if there is anything I could do further to right the wrong, so to speak. I try to be as nice as possible to the women there, because I feel like that's more conducive to getting what you are seeking, rather than acting like a b!+€h (for lack of a better word). I even bought a bunch of Dunkin Donuts doughnuts for them one time, because I wanted to show them that I appreciated their help.

I understand the need to be vigilant of abusers, but why the need to shun us chronic pain patients in the process? I don't know, maybe because it's an orthopaedic surgeon's office as opposed to pain management that's the reason for my problems, I don't know. And I agree with you 110%, daveseavy - the office staff has no right whatsoever to be butting their noses into my care. They don't hold the MD, they didn't spend four years in medical school, they didn't go through years of training - so where do they come off acting like they can usurp the doctor? But I would still think that regardless of it being an OS or PM office, they would know not to mess around with patients like that, and that things that fall within the realm of treatment are for the doctor to take care of, rather than them. I am actually applying to medical school probably next year (one of the factors is how the RSD is doing), and hopefully whenever I get into practicing my craft, I will make it damn clear to my staff that the medical decisions and treatments are left up to me, and that if I hear of any patient being treated with contempt, there will be an appropriate punishment to deal with it.

 
Old 04-04-2011, 06:16 AM   #10
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Re: Judgemental Office Staff!

You might ask your Dr. for his email so you can send him a message when you need meds. This will circumvent the staff and takes care of their busybodyness. My PM has his email on his card and he will chastise me when I have had a flare up and didn't send him an email about it. He said that it is so easy for him to pass on the info to his PA that way. just a thought....

 
Old 04-04-2011, 07:01 AM   #11
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Re: Judgemental Office Staff!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ibake&pray View Post
You might ask your Dr. for his email so you can send him a message when you need meds. This will circumvent the staff and takes care of their busybodyness. My PM has his email on his card and he will chastise me when I have had a flare up and didn't send him an email about it. He said that it is so easy for him to pass on the info to his PA that way. just a thought....
That's a really good idea, thank you! I didn't even think about that. I kind of feel invasive in a way if I ask him for it, and like I am being too assertive. But I guess I have to be assertive when it comes to this, because if I don't and I run out of meds I will end up in the ER from the pain. I'd rather just not have to deal with that situation at all! I just need to figure out a way to bring it up and ask. But I know that would definitely help things!

Last edited by RockSteady5803; 04-04-2011 at 07:02 AM.

 
Old 04-04-2011, 03:03 PM   #12
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Re: Judgemental Office Staff!

YOu can just say that you don't want to bother his staff because they seem so unhappy or irritated when you call and ask to leave a message for him. Ask if he has an in work email that he usues for patients who need to contact him, and if he does, can you plase have it? As my mother used to say..nothing ventured nothing gained...

 
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