Welcome to the Patient's Voice

Discussing the good, bad and ugly experiences patients face in healthcare today.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pharmacies, Shmarmacies, and What To Do When Your Doctor Leaves You (Or Vice Versa)

Things to do at the pharmacy while waiting on your prescription:

1. Do crossword puzzles. When it becomes boring, try to do them upside down or involve the people sitting around you. Mom and I used to do them all the time while waiting for her radiation appointments.
2. People watch. Make up stories in your head about where people are from, what their job is, and, of course, what kind of medication they're getting.
3. Start conversations with strangers. They're often relieved to have someone interesting to talk to.
4. Don't wait. Drop your prescription off and go run errands, or better yet, get a sno cone! Our favorite is the Snowflake Factory in Arlington, TX!

So, not long ago, Mom had an experience with a doctor that ultimately made her decide to switch. The doctor was completely inappropriate during a visit and rude over the phone while giving bad test results. Mom had already had issues with one of the nurses on her staff (a different can of worms,) and I had encountered another doctor at the hospital who, after I explained to her that I felt she had been really rude to me in an emergency situation, referenced Mom's doctor and said, "She's my colleague - she wouldn't say anything bad about me. She knows I'm not rude." Insert nasty smile here. 

Mom spoke with her primary care doctor, who said she would refer her and get the proper tests done as quickly as possible. You have to stand up for yourself and your well being. If a doctor is unprofessional or doesn't seem to have your health in his or her best interest, you have the right as a patient to speak up and find another doctor. When you do that, you also have to follow up to be sure the proper documents have been sent to the new doctor, and that appointments have been scheduled. Sometimes, you have to take charge of the system. It's hard work getting good healthcare!

A few days ago, I had a follow up appointment with my new primary care physician. She had prescribed me a bunch of meds for Fibro and anxiety that not only made me feel worse, but were meds that I just didn't want to be on day to day. When I went back, I let her know how the meds made me feel, and that I didn't necessarily want a daily med for pain or anxiety. I asked if she could prescribe something for when the symptoms get bad, and she was happy to. I thanked her for being so thorough - asking lots of questions - and for caring about my health and pain level. She smiled and said thank you, then paused and said, "You know I'm leaving, right?"

Sigh. Of course she's leaving. I found a good primary care doctor who knows about Fibro, is caring and inquisitve, and she's leaving. So, I asked if she knew anything about the doctor who would be replacing her (and, jokingly, if they were any good.) I now know that the new doctor is a woman, about the same age as my current doctor, with experience in hospitals and family practice. She's nice, as far as I know, and I'll have to wait to see what her bedside manner is like. Just asking a few simple questions gave me some peace of mind about the changes in the near future. It's early in the game, and I can always choose another primary care doctor if this one isn't a good fit. Everyone has a hard time living up to my first family doctor, anyway, who treated my mom as a teenager, and treated me throughout my childhood and adolescence. That man was a great doctor!

I guess what I'm saying is - it's okay to change doctors if you have that option, and if your current doctor moves on or retires, ask questions about their replacement, or for referrals. It may take some work on your part, but it's worth it to find a doctor who truly cares for you.

Wishing you wellness,

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