Author Topic: help writing a letter to an office?  (Read 3647 times)

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Celany

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help writing a letter to an office?
« on: June 19, 2014, 01:53:26 PM »
I'm not sure where this should go, so I'm guessing in putting it in Life...in general.

Yesterday, I went to the office of a surgeon that is part of a large complex of doctors (NYU). During the intake, there was a form that gave you the following options:

****
No matter what choice you make below, medical assistance will be given to you in exactly the same manner. None of the choices will affect your treatment in any way.

1) If you check this box, you are authorizing the doctors at NYU to be available to look at all the records generated by any doctor there at any time

2) If you check this box, you are authorizing there to be no open-access to your records for any reason, even in an emergency.

If you check neither box, then there is no open-access to your records, unless an emergency occurs, in which case doctors can access your records for the purposes of the medical emergency.

****

I looked at the form, and decided on the bottom option of checking no boxes. When I told my intake person my choice (and she was a temp; it was clearly stated on her tag), she didn't know how to put that into the system. So she asked the intake woman next to her to help.

The other intake woman (let's call her Clara) was...as dismissive and obnoxious a human being as I have ever met. She didn't understand the form I was signing, and we have 4-5 back & forths where she basically said "just sign option 1. it's fine. just sign it", and tried to explain to me that I was reading it wrong, when she was the person reading it incorrectly. When I stuck to my guns & made it clear that, as there was, in fact, an option to NOT check a box on the form and that was the option I was taking, she rolled her eyes, and made it clear that I was being ridiculous. She also called someone else over to back her up, talked over my head to that person like I wasn't there, and made comments (they were, and didn't outright say I was being difficult) that insinuated that I was being a paranoid pill).

I have been dealing with a health problem that has given me pain nearly day since November. Pain ranges from "it's there, but I can function mostly-normally" to "please stop. please stop. please stop. please just stop hurting for 10 minutes. please please please". Because of this, I'm feeling very sensitive and ill-tempered. Because of this, I didn't challenge her then, because I knew that it could degenerate very quickly into me yelling.

(note: I may be sensitive now, but this woman's behavior was definitely rude. I saw eye-rolls, and she said some things like "yeah. this form is so much easier to fill out when people just check a box like they're supposed to" and "I don't understand what the problem is either. but people have "problems" about all sorts of things these days, don't they?" to the person she called over to help her "explain").

So anyways, I want to write a letter and complain about this woman, but right now, all that comes to mind is

Hello,

I was at your office yesterday having a consult with a neurospinal surgeon about the medical condition I have. During the intake process, there was an issue with a form (describe issue). My intake person called another intake person, Clara, to come help. Clara was a nasty female dog to me, tried to pressure me into checking a box that would make it easier on her for me to check in, and spend the entire time being sarcastic and dismissive about the choice I wanted to make about my own health. I think Clara should either be fired or strongly reeducated in how to handle patients, because she made my pain-filled and frustrating day that much worse, when she tried to hijack my healthcare choices to make her life easier.

Best Regards,
-Celany


But that's probably not a very balanced or good way to get across how I feel. Would any ehellions be willing help me with this?
I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior. ~ Hippolyte Taine

Mergatroyd

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Re: help writing a letter to an office?
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2014, 01:58:29 PM »
No help from me, although I'd probably replace female dog with 'unprofessional' and 'disrespectful' and 'snarky'

otterwoman

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Re: help writing a letter to an office?
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2014, 02:03:52 PM »
I don't write letters to complain. I find the appropriate office and complain in person, so I can't help you there.

But I would recommend that they add option three with a check box, so people can check it off and the intact people can input that choice into the computer.

Since that issue was what started the whole kerfuffle, adding that check box option would have eliminated the problem to begin with. But, I'd also suggest more training for Clara.

MrTango

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Re: help writing a letter to an office?
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2014, 02:09:47 PM »
Here are my suggestions.  I recommend that you stick to the facts, keep personal feelings out of it, avoid inflammatory language, and don't suggest any particular course of action, but rather let them decide what is appropriate.

Hello,

I was at your office yesterday Insert Date having a consult with a neurospinal surgeon about the medical condition I have. During the intake process, there was an issue with a form (describe issue). My intake person called another intake person, Clara, to come help. Clara was a nasty female dog to me, tried to pressure me into checking a box that would make it easier on her for me to check in, and spend the entire time being sarcastic and dismissive about the choice I wanted to make about my own health. I think Clara should either be fired or strongly reeducated in how to handle patients, because she made my pain-filled and frustrating day that much worse, when she tried to hijack my prevent me from making my own healthcare choices to make her life easier.

Best Regards,
-Celany


Eden

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Re: help writing a letter to an office?
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2014, 02:15:03 PM »
I agree with Otterwoman about suggesting adding a third check box to avoid the confusion in the first place, but do think a letter or phone call is in order.

"I was in your office, following the directions on the form to leave a box unchecked. It caused some confusion and when Clara was called in to help she was extremely rude and downright mean. Here are two examples of what she said:

1. Example one you listed in the OP
2. Example two you listed in the OP

I cannot overstate how unprofessional her behavior was and you should not subject your patients to her or her behavior any more. Understand that the people who come to see you are in need of very specialized medical care which on its own is extremely scary and stressful. To then have to be degraded and dehumanized to receive care is unacceptable. " Etc

jmarvellous

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Re: help writing a letter to an office?
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2014, 02:17:21 PM »
My suggested letter:


Hello,

I visited Name of Center on Date for an appointment with Dr. Firstname Lastname. During intake, I was presented with a form giving three options for records release, two of which required checking boxes, and the third of which required that I check no box. I opted for the third option. The temporary intake person did not know how to process that option.
Intake staff member Clara then tried to persuade me to check one of the "easier" boxes, even after I made it clear that I chose the third option. Clara repeatedly rolled her eyes and made sarcastic comments as she worked very slowly to fix the issue with the help of a third employee.
First, I ask that Medical Center change the wording on this form and in the computerized intake system. If third option is available, it needs to be obvious to both patrons and staff.
Second, I ask that Clara be reeducated on proper customer service, or moved out of her position and into one where she is not asked to deal with sick people on a daily basis. Her unprofessional behavior made a difficult visit significantly worse.

Best Regards,
-Celany

Celany

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Re: help writing a letter to an office?
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2014, 02:21:29 PM »
I agree with Otterwoman about suggesting adding a third check box to avoid the confusion in the first place, but do think a letter or phone call is in order.

"I was in your office, following the directions on the form to leave a box unchecked. It caused some confusion and when Clara was called in to help she was extremely rude and downright mean. Here are two examples of what she said:

1. Example one you listed in the OP
2. Example two you listed in the OP

I cannot overstate how unprofessional her behavior was and you should not subject your patients to her or her behavior any more. Understand that the people who come to see you are in need of very specialized medical care which on its own is extremely scary and stressful. To then have to be degraded and dehumanized to receive care is unacceptable. " Etc

Oh, so for the record ( forgot this point, because I was so steamed about what happened), it turns out that there is a way to handle the non-checked-box option. BUT - the intake person would have had to scroll down to see it, and she didn't think to do that. She & Clara figured it out eventually. So maybe they need some kind of training to make it clear to them to scroll down & see if there are more options available?
I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior. ~ Hippolyte Taine

nutraxfornerves

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Re: help writing a letter to an office?
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2014, 02:29:05 PM »
Before you write the letter, have a good answer to this question: What do I want to have happen as a result of this letter? Obviously, you want Clara retrained or fired or made to write "I will not insult patients" 100 times on the blackboard. The likelihood that the office will tell you that any of these things happened is low, even if all of them happened. Additionally, you don't know if Clara is always like this or if she had just heard that her dog died. So, what do you want from them? An apology?  Assurance that this is an aberration and not the normal way of doing business? Assurance that steps have been taken that it will never happen again?  What words can they put in a return letter that will satisfy you? 

I would start with a sentence that explains why you are writing. A formal letter of complaint is not the same as venting in person to a friend. When you vent, you often start with a narrative and background and then get to the complaint. Here, you need to think of the person who opens the mail. They need to see right away what to do with the letter. Then, the person who gets the letter has to see right away what kind of issue the letter is all about.

On [Date], when I visited your clinic, I was treated very disrespectfully and rudely by Clara Clunker of your staff. 

[Details} Don't just say she was sarcastic and dismissive. Use her exact words as best as you can remember them. Explain that you were so shocked that you didn't say anything at the time.

The ask for what you want.  I have been pleased with the medical care I have received at your clinic. I would like to continue as a patient, however, I can do so only if I am adequately assured that I will not encounter this kind of disrespectful behavior again. (I would not specifically mention anything you want to happen to Clara, jus that you expect steps to be taken that it won't happen again--from any employee) In addition, I would like assurance that staff have been fully trained in the uses of Form 123. (or whatever you want).

The more specifics you give about Clara's behavior and the more your letter is polite, the less chance that Clara will defend herself by saying that she never said anything rude and the Celany is just a bitter old crab who was nearly impossible to deal with, and who is now lying about it.

Nutrax
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veronaz

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Re: help writing a letter to an office?
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2014, 02:29:52 PM »
Quote
and made it clear that I was being ridiculous. She also called someone else over to back her up, talked over my head to that person like I wasn't there, and made comments (they were, and didn't outright say I was being difficult) that insinuated that I was being a paranoid pill).

Too vague.  What exactly did she say?  You need to be a lot more specific.

Also, if you're going to write a letter you need to make sure to get the full name of the appropriate person to address it to.  (The person you're complaining about might be the one open the letter and dispose of it.)

fountainof

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Re: help writing a letter to an office?
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2014, 02:44:38 PM »
I would send a letter saying:
On ___ day I was at your office and completing the ___ form and I chose the option to not check a box and have ___.  Your staff were unfamiliar with how to enter this option and in turn they were very rude to me and attempted to pressure me to choose option 1, glossing over the differences between option and no option.  Please address this issue with your staff.

Or something like that.  Keep it short, do not call anyone names and treat it like to want to inform them of how something went wrong because no staff knew how to enter the info and then were rude because they didn't know.  While I think being rude is wrong, the problem with trying to force option 1 one you is the real problem as option 1 and no option mean entirely different things legally.  In trying to force you and you declining, the staff got rude as you were making it harder for them.  So start with form problem that caused employee poor behaviour.

Celany

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Re: help writing a letter to an office?
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2014, 03:26:35 PM »
Thank you all for your responses, they're really great, and helpful for putting my thoughts together. To answer some questions/comments:


What do I want to have happen as a result of this letter? Obviously, you want Clara retrained or fired or made to write "I will not insult patients" 100 times on the blackboard. The likelihood that the office will tell you that any of these things happened is low, even if all of them happened. Additionally, you don't know if Clara is always like this or if she had just heard that her dog died. So, what do you want from them? An apology?  Assurance that this is an aberration and not the normal way of doing business? Assurance that steps have been taken that it will never happen again?  What words can they put in a return letter that will satisfy you? 

What I want to happen is for someone to talk to Clara, make it clear to her that her behavior is unacceptable in a medical setting  (or any setting) and pressuring a patient to fill out a document the way that she wants is completely wrong (and also might be illegal? I'm gonna look that one up). Also, if Clara had such a bad day that she was going to steam-roller the patients, she should have stayed home. I was having a day of irregular, but bad, pain (feeling like a 2-3 all the time, except for the jabs of 7-8 level pain that came anywhere from every 10 minutes to every 3 hours) and I didn't act like a jerk.

So what I really do think she needs is either more training or, if she's done this before, to be fired and/or assigned to a place where she doesn't interact with patients. Either way, this is not a person who should be helping people fill out paperwork, if her idea on how to "help" is "tell them what is easiest for me"

Quote
and made it clear that I was being ridiculous. She also called someone else over to back her up, talked over my head to that person like I wasn't there, and made comments (they were, and didn't outright say I was being difficult) that insinuated that I was being a paranoid pill).

Too vague.  What exactly did she say?  You need to be a lot more specific.

Also, if you're going to write a letter you need to make sure to get the full name of the appropriate person to address it to.  (The person you're complaining about might be the one open the letter and dispose of it.)

It's a huge center, so I'm fairly sure the chances of the intake people working with mail are slim to none. Based on the layout, that's got to be a whole other department on a different floor.


I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior. ~ Hippolyte Taine

Lynn2000

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Re: help writing a letter to an office?
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2014, 03:29:14 PM »
I like nutraxfornerves's suggestions. Start with the punchline. Add details, but don't go into a long narration--keep the whole thing well under a page, half a page is better. The person who receives this letter will either know the question you mean or can easily look it up, so maybe just reference the form and the general idea of the question--you don't have to explain it as completely as you did in the OP. And close by asking for what you want.

The basic points, I think, are that
1) the first intake person did not know how to enter your choice;
2) the second intake person (Clara) also did not know how to enter your choice;
3) Clara tried to pressure you into making a different medical decision, simply because it was easier for her to deal with;
4) the third person eventually helped Clara figure out how to enter your choice (that is, the third person didn't automatically know either; but, there was, in fact, a way to do it, so it's not like you did it wrong);
5) Clara's attitude was rude, dismissive, and sarcastic, making a stressful situation even worse.

Clearly, the staff needs to be better trained on how to enter information from these forms. Also, it is unprofessional and one might even say unethical for them to pressure a patient to change a medical decision for their own convenience. And of course, it is unprofessional to be sarcastic and dismissive of a patient, pretty much no matter what--even if you were completely wrong, she shouldn't have handled it that way.
~Lynn2000

veronaz

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Re: help writing a letter to an office?
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2014, 03:48:55 PM »
Quote
It's a huge center, so I'm fairly sure the chances of the intake people working with mail are slim to none. Based on the layout, that's got to be a whole other department on a different floor.

Regardless of how large it is, you still need to:
1) address the letter to a specific person, by name.  Otherwise mail can be routed and re-routed and passed on.
2) specify exactly what she said (instead of vagueness and your interpretations).

fountainof

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Re: help writing a letter to an office?
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2014, 03:52:08 PM »
I do think you need to keep it short though.  If it is more than 2-3 few sentence paragraphs I don't think it will be read all the way through as people are busy and just don't process that much so I wouldn't go on and on about what specifically was said.

Celany

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Re: help writing a letter to an office?
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2014, 04:02:01 PM »
I'm thinking if I state the following:

1) She explained the form to me incorrectly several times
2) She repeatedly pressured me into picking an option that was easier for her to process
3) She repeatedly talked over my head, and talked about me, while I was sitting right between her & the person she called over to help
4) She repeatedly rolled her eyes and made comments that were dismissive of my decision and rude and implied that I was making a bad decision

Those can each be short, and the first two are less subjective/emotional sounding in particular. Although her attitude was extremely rude and her comments were ridiculous, the things that will probably get a health center to pay attention the most are that the intake person didn't actually understand the forms that she was helping me to fill out, and in fact, gave me information that contradicted the form, AND despite the form clearly saying any of the options were fine, she repeatedly told me "just pick #1. everybody does. this isn't a big deal".
I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior. ~ Hippolyte Taine