DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: I recently started treatments to help me get pregnant, since I have some health issues that can interfere with conception. There is only one OB/GYN practice in my area that offers the specialized care I need.
A lot of my treatments are very time sensitive, and I find myself battling with my OB/GYN’s front office staff to get necessary appointments and services booked. I also seem to have to leave multiple messages for my doctor and her nurse before I get a response. I don’t know if they are getting the messages I leave the first or second time.
The front office people don’t seem to get how important this is to me, and how difficult it can be for me to have to make multiple calls a day around my work schedule.
Normally, I am not a complainer, but I have so much at stake in this case. I want to complain to the head of the office, but I am afraid it might backfire, and I’ll get even less cooperation.
Is it worth the risk to get the care I think I am entitled to, or could I just screw things up worse for myself? --- TRYING TO BE A PATIENT PATIENT
DEAR TRYING TO BE A PATIENT PATIENT: It’s often hard to understand how something of vital importance to us is all in a day’s work for the people we’re counting on for assistance or support. However, that doesn’t mean you should accept what you consider substandard care from either the professional or support staff at a doctor’s office.
If it’s a matter of believing that the front office gate-keepers aren’t getting your messages where they need to go, you might be able to back up your phone calls with emails left directly for your provider and/or the scheduler via a patient portal or other electronic avenue. Although these too are possibly screened by someone other than the provider, there’s at least a chance of getting a direct response when phone calling isn’t doing the trick.
If that doesn’t work, I’ve found that polite persistence will often get you further, in the long run, than angry complaining, even if you find you need to take your concerns “to the top.” Often the head of support services is your best bet for getting issues ironed out, and you shouldn’t fear repercussions, especially if you avoid finger-pointing and name-dropping.