Author Topic: Great doctor, bad "gatekeeper" - would you say something?  (Read 2277 times)

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emjo306

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Great doctor, bad "gatekeeper" - would you say something?
« on: August 19, 2013, 12:35:02 PM »
I have 2 sons, the oldest of whom has special needs. Because of this, he was referred to a pediatrician (Dr. Awesome) by our GP (here it is common for children to just see a GP). When Dr. Awesome's receptionist (possibly nurse, not sure...she wears scrubs but doesn't leave the reception desk) called with the initial appointment, she told me that Dr. Awesome would NOT be taking on OldestSon as a patient and this was a one time only referral appointment, in a rather rude manner. As it turns out, Dr. Awesome decided to take on OldestSon as a patient, and he has been seeing her for a couple of years now.  Every other appointment booking has been met with some degree of attitude from the receptionist. This pediatrician is excellent with a wonderful bedside manner, and she has a very busy practice. It takes 3 months to get in for a checkup, and a few weeks for any kind of pressing issue (although I assume if a child was very ill, they would get in right away - haven't had that experience yet). The last time I was in with oldest son, I asked her if she would take youngest son on as a patient, as he doesn't have a pediatrician. She said no problem, it would take about 3 months to get in but to ask her receptionist (possibly nurse? not sure) to book an appointment for him on the way out. I explained this to her receptionist, who booked the appointment.

Well, it's 3 months later, and youngest son's appointment is today. I just got a call from the receptionist.

R: This is SoandSo calling from Dr. Awesome's office. I see that YoungestSon Lastname has an appointment with us today.
Me: Yes, that's right.
R: He's never been here before. (snotty tone commences)
Me: Yes
R: Do you have any other children that see Dr. Awesome? (snotty/interrogating tone continues)
Me: Yes
R: And the last name? (Sounds surprised, snottiness increases)
Me: (Gave the last name, same as OldestSon)
R: What's the first name? (Snottiness gone)
Me: (Gives first name)
R: Oh. Ok. We will see you at 1:15.

I am positive that the woman who called me is the same women who booked this appointment. OldestSon's name is pretty uncommon, and I think when she heard it she put two and two together as to who she was calling. She goes from incredibly rude and snotty to downright pleasant at the flip of a switch...it's bizarre. At any rate, I didn't appreciate an interrogating phone call investigating how YoungestSon managed to get an appointment...an appointment SHE booked!

I'm unsure if I should say something to Dr. Awesome, and if so, what. Rude receptionist strikes me as someone who is very good at her job...she has a large number of appointments to manage for Dr. Awesome, as well as facilitating appointments with a plethora of other specialists. Her people skills just leave something to be desired. I think she sees herself as Dr. Awesome's "gatekeeper". I get that Dr. Awesome has a large, busy practice, but I don't think it's right to be treated like booking an appointment with my child's doctor is a massive imposition.

What do you think? Should I mention the phone call, or avoid rocking the boat and just put up with this woman for the sake of getting to see Dr. Awesome?

DottyG

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Re: Great doctor, bad "gatekeeper" - would you say something?
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2013, 12:39:55 PM »
Yes, I'd mention it to the doctor.  Not in an accusatory way.  But as a heads up that his front staff might need a little bit of retraining.


peaches

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Re: Great doctor, bad "gatekeeper" - would you say something?
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2013, 12:48:32 PM »
Rude receptionist strikes me as someone who is very good at her job...
''

If she's being rude to patients and/or parents, she's not very good at an important aspect of the job.

If I were her boss, I'd want to know.

I would say something to the doctor. And if the situation didn't improve, I might be looking for another doctor. I think there are plenty of doctors with friendly and helpful staff.   
« Last Edit: August 19, 2013, 12:51:44 PM by peaches »

BarensMom

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Re: Great doctor, bad "gatekeeper" - would you say something?
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2013, 12:51:43 PM »
Mention it to Dr. Awesome.  Doctors are often so busy in the back that they don't know what is going on in their front office.

Story time:  When I turned 12, my folks decided that I was old enough to see the family doctor on my own.  I went into the office and I saw the receptionist was in the back of the office with her back turned to me.  I rang the bell to get her attention and was treated to a spate of verbal abuse in front of an full office of patients that included the words "dingdangity brat, I knew you were there - but you had to ring that bell."  Embarrassed, I turned on my heel and left the office in tears.

When I got home, my parents had gotten the call that "Barensmom didn't show for her appointment."  At his appointment later in the week, Pop told the doctor what had happened and the nurse confirmed it, having heard about it from the other patients (there was no love lost between nurse and receptionist).  My mother came along and had words with the receptionist as well.

From that point on, the receptionist was sickly sweet to me - ugh!

Cami

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Re: Great doctor, bad "gatekeeper" - would you say something?
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2013, 12:59:37 PM »
At one point, I was having some trouble with the front desk people at my doctor's office. I did tell her about and she told me that doctors want to know this information for several reasons. She said that one big reason is that many people are terrified of visiting the doctor and if the front desk is off-putting, that is a severe set back to getting them to see a doctor.

So yes, I'd let your doctor know that her gatekeeper is a snotty snob.

DottyG

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Re: Great doctor, bad "gatekeeper" - would you say something?
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2013, 01:03:05 PM »
At one point, I was having some trouble with the front desk people at my doctor's office. I did tell her about and she told me that doctors want to know this information for several reasons. She said that one big reason is that many people are terrified of visiting the doctor and if the front desk is off-putting, that is a severe set back to getting them to see a doctor.

So yes, I'd let your doctor know that her gatekeeper is a snotty snob.

Yep


YummyMummy66

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Re: Great doctor, bad "gatekeeper" - would you say something?
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2013, 01:48:06 PM »
I am getting more direct in my old age, (47).  I have never been confrontational before, but I am so tired of being the bigger person for all of my life and never calling anyone on their behavior.

Personally, for me, I am getting to the point where I will say something direct.  Not rude, but direct.

I would be asking the receptionist exactly what her problem is.  Or, I might ask her if this is the way the doctor asks that her front office staff conduct their business?  Because if so, you will surely be discussing it with her. 

I am sure someone can word it better than me, but I would ask a question or so, without being rude, but putting it on the person whose behavior is rude and seeking their response on why it is so.

Then, I would probably talk to the doc about said person and behavior and response.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Great doctor, bad "gatekeeper" - would you say something?
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2013, 01:58:48 PM »
I have 2 sons, the oldest of whom has special needs. Because of this, he was referred to a pediatrician (Dr. Awesome) by our GP (here it is common for children to just see a GP). When Dr. Awesome's receptionist (possibly nurse, not sure...she wears scrubs but doesn't leave the reception desk) called with the initial appointment, she told me that Dr. Awesome would NOT be taking on OldestSon as a patient and this was a one time only referral appointment, in a rather rude manner. As it turns out, Dr. Awesome decided to take on OldestSon as a patient, and he has been seeing her for a couple of years now.  Every other appointment booking has been met with some degree of attitude from the receptionist. This pediatrician is excellent with a wonderful bedside manner, and she has a very busy practice. It takes 3 months to get in for a checkup, and a few weeks for any kind of pressing issue (although I assume if a child was very ill, they would get in right away - haven't had that experience yet). The last time I was in with oldest son, I asked her if she would take youngest son on as a patient, as he doesn't have a pediatrician. She said no problem, it would take about 3 months to get in but to ask her receptionist (possibly nurse? not sure) to book an appointment for him on the way out. I explained this to her receptionist, who booked the appointment.

Well, it's 3 months later, and youngest son's appointment is today. I just got a call from the receptionist.

R: This is SoandSo calling from Dr. Awesome's office. I see that YoungestSon Lastname has an appointment with us today.
Me: Yes, that's right.
R: He's never been here before. (snotty tone commences)
Me: Yes
R: Do you have any other children that see Dr. Awesome? (snotty/interrogating tone continues)
Me: Yes
R: And the last name? (Sounds surprised, snottiness increases)
Me: (Gave the last name, same as OldestSon)
R: What's the first name? (Snottiness gone)
Me: (Gives first name)
R: Oh. Ok. We will see you at 1:15.
I am positive that the woman who called me is the same women who booked this appointment. OldestSon's name is pretty uncommon, and I think when she heard it she put two and two together as to who she was calling. She goes from incredibly rude and snotty to downright pleasant at the flip of a switch...it's bizarre. At any rate, I didn't appreciate an interrogating phone call investigating how YoungestSon managed to get an appointment...an appointment SHE booked!

I'm unsure if I should say something to Dr. Awesome, and if so, what. Rude receptionist strikes me as someone who is very good at her job...she has a large number of appointments to manage for Dr. Awesome, as well as facilitating appointments with a plethora of other specialists. Her people skills just leave something to be desired. I think she sees herself as Dr. Awesome's "gatekeeper". I get that Dr. Awesome has a large, busy practice, but I don't think it's right to be treated like booking an appointment with my child's doctor is a massive imposition.

What do you think? Should I mention the phone call, or avoid rocking the boat and just put up with this woman for the sake of getting to see Dr. Awesome?

I wouldn't take that exchange as interrogation about how the appointment came about. I'd surmise that they wanted the Doctor to have the other child's medical records handy as it gives him/her some established family background.

And just because it's an unusual lastname it doesn't mean it's rung any bells for her or she has a memory of an appointment she made 3 months prior. You said it is a very busy practice. Or it could be that the unusual lastname did ring a bell and when she was looking through the appointment list, saw the name thought "huh, I think this family is already a patient, let me call to check".

I think it is fine to mention to the doctor any concerns about the staff. I'm just not sure what you can say.

JoieGirl7

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Re: Great doctor, bad "gatekeeper" - would you say something?
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2013, 02:10:57 PM »
I woukd try inserting "Is there a problem?"  into the interrogation to turn it back onto her.

scansons

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Re: Great doctor, bad "gatekeeper" - would you say something?
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2013, 02:11:39 PM »
I used to work for a GP, and put in years at different office jobs from receptionist to Executive Assistant before the kids.  I do not put up with unprofessional behavior from office staff especially when they work for a doctor's office.  I've changed doctors over it.  There is simply no excuse to treat people who are coming in sick to rudeness or worse.  Their day is bad enough already. 

I would talk to the doctor.  But I would also not give the receptionist an inch.  She starts with the snotty tone, you start questioning why she needs to know things.  She's got you in the system, she's got the appointment, she probably made the appointment.  So my answer to do I have other children who see the doctor becomes:  "Is that important?"  "What does that have to do with this appointment?"  It could be that there is an office policy that she thought the appointment violated, or she could just have been calling you because there was an inner office snit going on.  Either way, there is no reason for her to be snotty.  Further more, what your other child's name is is not technically her business, especially without an explanation. 

So she wants to be rude, you be polite, but make her earn her dinner. 


Library Dragon

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Re: Great doctor, bad "gatekeeper" - would you say something?
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2013, 02:16:57 PM »
I too have switched doctors over office staff.  They were incompetent. 

Please mention it.  The doctor cannot fix it if she doesn't know there is a problem. 

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Twik

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Re: Great doctor, bad "gatekeeper" - would you say something?
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2013, 02:45:29 PM »

If she's being rude to patients and/or parents, she's not very good at an important aspect of the job.


I don't know - from the frequency I've hit horribly rude medical receptionists, I suspect this is a part of the job. Why, I'm not sure.
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scansons

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Re: Great doctor, bad "gatekeeper" - would you say something?
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2013, 03:11:08 PM »

If she's being rude to patients and/or parents, she's not very good at an important aspect of the job.


I don't know - from the frequency I've hit horribly rude medical receptionists, I suspect this is a part of the job. Why, I'm not sure.

It's often not a very well paid job.  Depending on the doctor, and/or hospital system the doctor may not have hired the person, and the person may not have received much training or supervision in the office. They deal with doctors and nurses who are under a lot of stress, and who can take the stress out on their clerks, but not on their patients.  They also deal with patients who are sick, and often rude, and unreasonable.  It takes a certain kind of person to do it well, especially in a multi practice. 

You couldn't pay me to do it again. 

cwm

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Re: Great doctor, bad "gatekeeper" - would you say something?
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2013, 04:05:36 PM »
At one point, I was having some trouble with the front desk people at my doctor's office. I did tell her about and she told me that doctors want to know this information for several reasons. She said that one big reason is that many people are terrified of visiting the doctor and if the front desk is off-putting, that is a severe set back to getting them to see a doctor.

So yes, I'd let your doctor know that her gatekeeper is a snotty snob.

I'm gonna park a huge POD right here. I have serious anxiety with seeing doctors. It's terrifying to me. I've never had a single bad experience, but I'm in tears once I get to the office.

I've switched specialists because their office staff was rude to me, or just simply uncaring. I had to reschedule an appointment because a close relative died, and I would be at the funeral, and they reminded me in a condescending tone that the soonest appointment I could get was going to be another two months.

On the other side of the coin, I've always been happy to go to my dentist or my GP because all of their nurses/technicians/receptionists know me and are always happy and kind when I talk to them. I sing their praises wherever I can, as it's really hard to find people like that these days.

OP, I would definitely mention it to your doctor.

JoieGirl7

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Re: Great doctor, bad "gatekeeper" - would you say something?
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2013, 04:34:37 PM »
Whether they care can sometimes tell you a lot about the doctor.

I once had a problem with the front office staff at a doc.  They had a guy working the front desk who made me very uncomfortable..  It was a gyn office.  Sometimes you had to walk from one exam room to another wearing a hospital gown.  And Front Office Guy would randomly be hanging out in the halls here the exam rooms were.  Usually you could tell he was there because he would be very loudly chatting with other staff members, but I came out of an exam room and he was right there just hanging out.

Never before or since have I seen someone who is just the receptionist spend so much time hanging out around the exam rooms.

He also talked about other patients in front of other patients.  He just seemed to have an unhealthy interest in things that should not have been concerning him.

(Also, when I first started going there, over the phone he made me think he was a nurse because he started asking me medical questions that you would think a nurse would ask and definitely not a receptionist-that should have been a giant red flag.)

I talked to the doctor about him and she brushed off my concerns completely so I never went back.