Worker defends patient care services

DEAR HELOISE:I am writing in response to your admonition that it is important to be friendly and courteous with customers, clients and friends. You have specifically mentioned bad experiences with nurses, techs and office staff being rude or standoffish to patients. (Heloise here: My comment was that many readers have expressed this opinion, not me.)

As a licensed medical professional, I am in total agreement with your recommendations, although there are two sides to this coin. If you are having patient care services, please be on time and have your doctor's orders, insurance card and authorization.

If we are running behind and you have to wait, it may be because others have arrived late, without an order or insurance card or authorization, and are demanding to be seen. We have to call the doctor or insurance carrier, which delays service for all.

Please do not take it out on those providing your service; take your complaints to a manager or supervisor. Sometimes things "come up" in the course of providing service. We strive to give each patient the time needed and schedule accordingly, but every person is unique.

We know you may be frightened, in pain and generally stressed out. We are trained to deal with these things, but you needn't take this out on us either. I am willing to bet that most of us understand that we are there to help you and realize our service to you pays our wages. Remember that kindness usually begets kindness. — Susan Upson, via e-mail



Susan, how right you are. I have talked with physicians and office staff across the country for many, many years. Almost everyone tries to do a good job for the patient and does not intentionally mean to be rude, short-tempered or unpleasant. As one doctor said to me, "We are not a carwash, and cannot just run patients in and out in a set scheduled time."

Other patients may be late, and some wait until the physician is just about to walk out of the room to ask about another aliment or the "embarrassing question." Also, emergencies happen and must be taken care of then. Would you want your doctor to say: "Oh, sorry, out of time, I must move on to the next patient. Come back later or make another appointment?" And, if it's you or a family member with the emergency, I'm sure you would be understanding.

Thank you for you insightful letter. — Heloise

P.S.: A health hint from Heloise: Be prepared when you go to the doctor, have all paperwork and cards at hand, write down (or think about) the questions you may have, and don't be shy about telling the doctor what's wrong or asking questions. Trust me, doctors have heard it all. Don't make them guess what you need to know.

Readers, patients and health-care professionals, I'd love to hear from you on this "touchy" subject and publish both sides of the stethoscope.

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