Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hiring and Firing Doctors

In the last several years we’ve hired and fired quite a few doctors. C. J. and I have primary care doctors, and every body part has it's own specialist. Not just eyes and teeth, but we have ones like the toe guy, the cancer guy, and "Gastro Man." He laughs when I call him that.  Getting good ones doesn’t come easy; you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. Here are some hints on finding your prince(s).

Is it clean? One of CJ’s specialists had peeling linoluem on the floor, stained walls and woodwork, and no sink in the exam room so you could see if the doctor washes up. Even if it’s clean, is it crowded? Does he expect you to spend a lot of time there with patients who are coughing and snorting and screaming kids? An hour is too much, and it shows the doctor doesn’t respect you or your time. The receptionist has your phone number, and could call if an emergency affects the schedule. Greed leads to overbooking, which leads to long waits for you.

If you call the office and get a busy signal, this doctor is living in the dark ages. He or she doesn’t trust voicemail, e-mail, or fax messages. Odds are they are using paper files instead of a computer, and get all information by pony express. Your appointment time is spent digging through paperwork instead of looking down your throat or up your wazoo, which should be more interesting. Odds are good that they are not sharing information with your other doctors or the pharmacy, as they should.

We have had doctors who will not shake our hand without rubber gloves. We had one who wouldn’t let patients use the rest room, sending them upstairs and down a hall, some trailing tubes or tanks. Most do not visit hospitals at all, or even make a phone call. One asked me how my surgery had gone, after I dragged my sorry body to the office for a follow-up visit. I told her I had no idea, because I slept through the whole thing. That question told me she hadn't even checked with the hospital or the surgeon.

This is easier than breaking up with a boyfriend or firing your yard man. No need to say good-bye, no need to ask for records, no reason to tell them why. Just hire a new doctor. We like new doctors, not just as in different, but newly graduated. This includes those with a dozen or more years or so under their white coat. They know the new tricks, are not burnt out, and don’t seem so arrogant. Maybe they run them through a charm school course. Or they may just appreciate your business.

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