Do the physicians really know what’s happening at the front desk? Is it the patient that has the problem? Is it the receptionist’s problem? Usually the physician will believe it’s the patient, and the receptionist is right! Ultimately, the patient’s problem!
By far this isn’t a first time I observed this type of behavior by a receptionist. I believe most receptionists are good. I’ve worked as a receptionist, a nurse, and a patient. It’s understandable everyone has good and bad days. I plead for those who work with people who are having bad days please stay home or leave work.
Your behavior is not acceptable. Placing blame onto a patient can interfere with proper diagnosis and treatment. Blaming the patient unfairly “labels” them and that lasts their entire lifetime!
Recently, my husband and I were sitting in the waiting room of physicians’s office when a patient comes from her appointment. She stood patiently to ask the receptionist a question. She asks the young woman at the desk when she could expect to pick up the completed paperwork.
The reply she received from the receptionist was curt and cold: “I don’t know”. The patient asked if it would be ready within one week. Again, the reply was nasty “I don’t know when I’ll get to doing your paperwork!” With that reply the patient told her she would sit in the waiting room until she could answer her question.
This frustrated patient called her husband and told him to bring her lunch and dinner to the office because she’s not getting an answer and she’s planning to wait in the waiting room for an answer.
Oh…I’ve observed this type of behavior by office staff many times and it’s time the world knows what really happens! I just felt like going over and talking to this patient but I chose not to since I already felt overwhelmed hearing this scenario play out time-and-time again!
We couldn’t avoid hearing the conversations that transpired among the patient and the receptionist also the patient and her husband. This was her last appeal with social security and she had a deadline to submit her paperwork. I’m certain that by now her level of frustration with this political and healthcare system has reached it’s peak.
She’s not alone in these situations. People are dealing with health issues that don’t allow for any further ignorance and stress. They don’t want to be off work! These patients have NO reserve left. They’ve been labeled inappropriately because of the systems that blame another rather than help. Often misdiagnosed preventing prompt and proper treatment that one can recover from.
In this case it was ridiculous that this receptionist left the office to talk with the staff in another office while the physician was seeing another patient. Later, when my name was called and we stood just inside the door about six feet from the patient we overheard the conversation with physician and receptionist.
She gave an entirely different picture than what happened! She simply told him the patient is “refusing to leave the office”. He told her to call the police! Instead the receptionist yelled out to the patient that she can pick up the paper next Thursday at noon. The patient calmly replied “that’s all I wanted was an answer” and left the office.
When the physician asked the receptionist if the police had arrived yet, her reply was “the patient left the office before I could call the police”.
Was the patient frustrated? Of course, who wouldn’t be! Was she belligerent? Absolutely NOT! Was she looking for answers? Yes. Was she looking for a hard time? No. This interaction will affect treatment for years to come. She’s not alone.
Unfortunately the physician never heard this communication among patient and receptionist. I cringe to think how this could adversely affect this patient’s care in the future. At this same physician’s office it was recently vandalized by a patient and the patient was arrested.
I ask myself the question: What really happened? What triggered destructive behavior? Regardless, every one is in charge of their own behaviors and actions and destruction is never excusable and should be punishable by law.
Have you witnessed problems while waiting for your appointments? How do you think we should handle these scenarios?
- When physicians don’t communicate about their patients (kevinmd.com)
- Shamed NHS hospitals to face closure: Scandal report wants doctors and nurses fined (mirror.co.uk)
- The 10 Commandments of Patient Engagement (healthecommunications.wordpress.com)
- When patients are socialized into the sick role (kevinmd.com)