Friday, May 30, 2008


My 15 year old son was hit with a baseball last week, and I took him to our “physician group practice” on Friday morning so that someone could take a look at his swollen hand and wrist. We were seen very promptly for his appointment, and once the nurse practitioner checked his hand/wrist area, we were sent off to x-ray. Again, they took him right away and sent the films back to the nurse practitioner. She said that they looked negative, but a radiologist would read the films and have a report available within 24 hours. I was advised to call back on Saturday and check on the results. My son’s arm was splinted, and we were off and on our way.

Late Saturday morning, I called the number that I was given and asked for the results of the final radiology report. I was put on hold, told that the results “were not in the system,” and advised to call back a couple of hours later. I did just that, and again I was told that the results were not available. The woman on the phone told me to call back on Sunday. Each time, the person on the phone was polite but was just unable to help.

I called back again on Sunday morning. I was told again that the results were still “not in the system.” This time, I was told to call back on Tuesday! The woman answering the phone told me that even if my son’s hand was broken, nothing more than the splint would be done until Tuesday anyway. When I questioned her, she seemed very irritated, and this was when I started to get treated like the “annoying patient.” I was made to feel like a real pest! She begrudgingly explained that there was nothing more that they could do until Tuesday (after Memorial Day), and I made it clear that I was unhappy (though not impolite). A couple of hours later, I got a call from the practice telling me, “It was not an easy task,” but they were able to get the x-ray read that day. The woman on the phone treated me like I had just been done a great big favor!

While I realize that far more serious things can happen (and I’m certainly glad that nothing did -- especially on Memorial Day weekend!), I was not pleased with my son’s care. It seems that we are being bombarded of late with information encouraging us, as patients, to speak up. We are being told to ask questions, be an informed patient, be a partner in your own healthcare, and the list goes on and on. Why, then, do we sometimes get treated as “difficult” when we do, in fact, ask questions; when we do call back when we are told to; when we actually expect what we were told to expect? If patients and families are going to partner in their care, there certainly needs to be some receptiveness on the part of the healthcare provider. I’m not trying to bash anyone -- I just think that there should be a bit of give and take on BOTH sides.

Winnie Tobin


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