Simple Rules to Picking a Doctor (Part 1)

(This week is a 2-part blog post. Apparently I couldn't get all my venting into just one post. So when you're done with me here, Donor Concierge has graciously allowed me to post Part II over there. I'm pretty sure I'm not one of those people who annoys their doctor so much that the receptionist knows their phone number by heart and cringes and retches every time it comes up on caller ID. And yet, I'm pretty particular about the doctors I pick. And interestingly enough, my pickiness really has little to do with their medical expertise.

No, I've been fortunate enough to have been diverted to or referred to or conned into using medical professionals who seem qualified to see me in various degrees of undress. (Sorry, Mr. Podiatrist. In your case, I mean taking off my shoes and socks.)

So my issues aren't always with the doctors themselves. Yet some little most basic common sense things can make me want to call it quits with them. not being able to get in touch with them. I had a gynecologist not too long ago who had one phone line and no call-waiting. What? It was like going to the little gyno on the prairie. I had to pretend I was living in 1978 and keep hanging up when I got a busy signal and psycho-dialing over and over again until I got through. How ridiculous: I was trying to make a doctor's appointment not win concert tickets.

Another gynecologist had an answering machine field all of her calls. I often can't be reached during the day so this is really irritating. I need a one step deal. It was never a one step deal to make an appointment. I couldn't just call her, make an appointment and move on with my life. I had to call and wait for someone to call me back. Then they'd leave me a message, then I'd call them back and leave them a message. Then... well you see where this is going. Instead of the one step deal it should've been, it became a three day Olympic event. Finally I'd get so exasperated, I would just leave detailed information on the machine message and let them work it out without me. "I'll be in Monday the 29th at 3:10. Deal with it." You know you've left too many messages when you don't have to leave your number because you're sure they already have it... Or your name because they must, by now, know your "angry voice" by heart.

Then sometimes you get receptionists, administrative assistants etc who are unpleasant. I will go as far as to say I had a Reproductive Endocrinologist who has an assistant who's evil. (And I say "has" because she's still there.) She was always so nice to my face, but clearly something more sinister lingers just below the surface of her cheery shell. Somehow doctors never got the messages when messages went through her. If for some reason she was out, everything was fine. But when she was there, she was like a giant cement road block. And there was no way to get to a doctor or a nurse without going through her. I tried frantically to warn the medical staff when I saw them in person, grabbing them by the lab coat lapels. "Listen to me! She's only gone out for coffee. We don't have much time! I'm telling you. That woman you have as your assistant- She's not who you think she is!" But apparently they were all fooled by her or she had them in an evil trance or something. Did they never question how she could bring them every day, hot S'Mores directly from her office?

My internist has an online portal and, I hate to say it but, I love my portal. (Did that sound right to you?) I go online to ask for prescriptions or ask the doctor a quick question or get lab results or make my own appointments. I sincerely hope none of it has put anyone out of a job. Then again, a few of them probably shouldn't have been in that job in the first place. I often thought as unemployment was hitting an all-time high: "10 million people out of work... and this is who you gave the job to?"

To continue this post where I kvetch about waiting rooms, waiting in waiting rooms, and doctors who have lousy bedside manner, please check out: "Simple Rules to Picking a Doctor" (Part 2) at Gail Sexton's blog: