The Goddess Weighs In

Living Large and Healthy

Do Unto Others. . .

on July 22, 2014

A few weeks ago I called to make an appointment with my family doctor.  I explained that I needed a refill on one of my medications and I wanted to talk about a couple of things.  My doctor has a fairly limited schedule as she has a small infant at home and so my appointment was booked for a week later.  I mentioned that I had about two weeks left of pills and it was decided that was fine because I could get a new prescription with time to spare.  The day before the appointment I picked up a message that said they were cancelling my appointment and I could call to reschedule.  Annoying since I had taken the day off for the appointment, but life happens so I called back and booked an appointment one week later.  Again I raised the concern that I would take my last pill that day and the receptionist told me that if I was concerned I could come in as a drop in sometime in the days leading up to my appointment. Since I work across town and since my appointment would be the day of my last pill and since a walk in appointment could involve a two-hour wait if I could get there in time after work I opted to wait for my appointment.  A day before my rescheduled appointment I picked up a message saying that my appointment was cancelled. I called the doctor’s office immediately as this was now going to be a problem.

I spoke to the receptionist and was able to reschedule for a couple of days later, but I asked if perhaps a prescription could be left for me at the front desk which I could pick up the following day.  She hemmed and hawed and seemed unsure of what they could do and then asked for the number for my pharmacy.  I told her my local pharmacy, which has all of my records, is closed on Sundays and she again hemmed and hawed.  Then she asked for the name of the drug.  It’s a common blood pressure medication, yet I had to spell it for her twice and I still wasn’t sure she got it.

A few hours later the receptionist called back.  The doctor had asked that I call the pharmacy and have them request the prescription.  I reminded her again that my pharmacy is closed on Sundays and I was told “well that’s what the doctor said”.  I said I understand that, but if she isn’t in tomorrow to sign off and the pharmacy isn’t open today then what do I do?  Her response was an effective “well that’s your problem”.

I said to the receptionist that I wasn’t very happy with the way I was being treated.  She didn’t acknowledge my comment and proceeded to tell me to have the pharmacist call the office.  Again I said I wasn’t happy and again she went right on telling me that I needed to have the pharmacy call.  In a calm, but clearly annoyed voice I told her that I wanted her to acknowledge that I had just made a complaint about the service I was receiving. Her response was something to the effect of not my problem and she ended the call.

A few minutes later my doctor called back and asked what my problem was. Not “I understand we have an issue” or “There seems to be a problem”, but what’s my problem.  I explained the situation and the doctor quickly told me that I knew I could have made this request for medication earlier and that I should never let my medication run out.  I reminded her that I had had two appointments cancelled in two weeks and that when I asked about my medication I was told that I could come in for a drop in appointment.  I was not told I could request it from the pharmacy directly, nor was I offered an appointment with another physician, despite my concerns.  I was told that her staff were infallible, that she knows what they told me and that while they would hate to see me go, if I was unhappy I was welcome to go elsewhere.

I told her that with respect there is a disconnect with her messaging as if I had been told this we would not be having this conversation right now. She also told me an as yet untold fact. . .she was going to be in the following day, just apparently earlier in the day so she could indeed sign off on the prescription. Apparently the receptionist didn’t know this as it would have solved everything in one fell swoop.  I asked the doctor if she would be in on Wednesday as I had my rescheduled appointment and she told me that nothing in life is guaranteed and that she could have an accident or there could be an emergency.  I said well that’s understandable, but baring incident I would see her on Wednesday and we said goodbye.

Needless to say I was in a mood after that. This isn’t a fat girl thing, but it’s an issue of general respect and sticking up for oneself.  I understand that appointments need to be moved around, I understand that kids get sick, child care can be an issue, people are busy, and the proverbial shit happens.  But I don’t understand why people can’t be considerate and understanding and help me problem solve an issue.  My doctor claimed that I knew better and could have avoided this situation.  I have never been in a situation like this before and certainly never had multiple appointments cancelled, but I also find it odd that I would be held to a higher standard than her staff.  Presumably they’ve had patients call about dwindling prescriptions, presumably they’ve had to reschedule appointments and rejig the schedule at some point, so why not do a little problem solving and sort things out with the minimum fuss and bother?

In my 9-5 life I am a problem solver.  I am the person who deals with the difficult cases and clients and tries to sort them out.  If I treated a client the way I was treated in this situation I would be reprimanded sternly.  I teach others how to deal with difficult people and complaints and I can tell you that first off  you don’t ignore the complaint or the person.  Sure I get people who cannot be appeased despite all attempts to rectify their situations and sometimes a workable solution cannot be found, but it is rare that someone leaves my office without a thorough understanding of what is going on and the knowledge that I am doing everything in my power to assist them and empower them.

A few simple details and this could all have been avoided.  Now I’ve cancelled my Wednesday appointment and I am in the market for a new family doctor because I realized this is a toxic situation.  In fact when I went to my pharmacist last night she confided in me that the doctor was still upset and wanted her to know that I was being difficult.  She laughed it off since mine is not the first complaint from patients about this doctor.  When I filled in a few details for her she rolled her eyes and agreed the whole thing was ridiculous and could have been easily avoided.  She also referred me to her personal physician and I have an appointment next week.

The point of today’s rant…you matter, your concerns matter and if someone is not treating you with the respect any human being deserves then politely speak up. . .and be prepared to find a new doctor.

– the Goddess


7 responses to “Do Unto Others. . .

  1. I don’t know why so much of the medical world has to operate on the assumption that nobody else has commitments. My mom worked as a reception in a busy surgical office, and she said that even with juggling surgical emergencies there was NEVER a good reason to treat a patient rudely OR leave them waiting forever.

  2. rose pilotti says:


  3. Mama Ames says:

    Unfrickinbelievable! I work in a field where I have to apologize for things that aren’t my fault all day long. What is wrong with customer service? This is the medical field…lives could be at stake. Very frustrating. I’d get a new doctor. With the changes in healthcare, it may be harder than ever before 😦

  4. BigLizzy says:


    This is awful. I mean, just awful. A supposed health care facility’s staff acting like this? OMG. Is it just me or is there a real lack of consideration happening all over the place? I swear. I see stuff like this in line at the drug store, at restaurants, in the airport, etc.

    You know that there are too many humans in the world when we start sniping each other over the simplest little things. A simple “we were wrong and we’re sorry” would fix so much in the world.

    You were being completely civil and, from the sound of it, actually kind about it. That doctor’s practice will eventually suffer and maybe, just maybe she’ll grab a clue. People will always get sick and need care. Doctors are so insulated, protected and often arrogant. They never seem to run out of patients. Sigh.

    At any rate, resistance (emotional and/or physical) means that there is a lesson for all involved. The doctor cannot separate her behavior from her practice. She is her practice and this is her lesson, too. I wager that she is suffering (on some level) from her choices and treatment of people and if it hasn’t harmed her business, it very well might. While that is not your responsibility and you did exactly what you were supposed to do, it’s interesting, nonetheless.

    I’m glad that you stood up for yourself. If it were me, I would write her a relatively short note and explain how you felt and why you’ve decided to take your business elsewhere. She might not care, but at least you did your part in closing the loop, sharing your experience, and actually helping her become a better facilitator of health. Hugs to you, sweetie. Good job!

  5. Thank you everyone for your support. A quick postscript: Today I went to see the doctor I was referred to and she and her receptionist were polite and kind and pleasant and I have been taken on as a new patient. I stopped in at the pharmacy to pick up a prescription and thanked the pharmacist for the referral. She was pleased that I was now going to be taken care of properly.

    @Big Lizzy, I was so upset by the complete lack of assistance that I received that I’ve debated everything from contacting the College of Doctors and Physicians of Ontario and reporting her to calling her up and trying again to explain to her why this whole episode is such a disappointment. At this point I suspect she knows that she’s screwed up as her calling the pharmacist to defend herself and label me a troublemaker seems a desperate attempt to curry favour. The funny part is that I hadn’t mentioned anything to the pharmacy staff about the incident so she was the one that made it public and in the end looked like a fool, publicly.

    I am so glad I was able to secure a new GP so quickly and painlessly!

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