Picture this: You wake up on a Saturday morning with a strange rash, a fever of 103 and you just started a new medication. You want to see your doctor, but of course, it is the weekend so you won’t be able to get an appointment until at least Monday. You consider Urgent Care, but the physician there doesn’t know you like your doctor of 15 years does.
So, what do you do?
Do you sweat it out until Monday, unsure if you should take your medicine or not? Or, do you call the doctor’s answering service and have him paged?
Hopefully, you chose to have your doctor paged.
My Bad Doctor
For some reason, we seem to be afraid to ‘bother’ our doctors. Yes, doctors are generally well educated and highly respected individuals. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be expected to do their job though.
Part of the problem may be that some doctors may make you feel bad for calling them. This actually happened to me when I was in labor with my first child. I was told to call the doctor when my contractions were occurring 5 minutes apart, so I did. Unfortunately, the doctor’s wife had just had a baby also, and when I called at 6:30 a.m., he was less than chipper. He basically scolded me for calling and told me how tired HE was, and then told me I should have just gone to the hospital.
At first I felt bad, but that lasted about 1 minute. Then I wanted to smack his sleepy face.
Thankfully, another doctor in the practice delivered my son that day, and I never did make an appointment with that doctor again. The whole interaction with that OB/GYN made me really realize that I am a PAYING CUSTOMER in the whole doctor/patient relationship. If I am not satisfied with their services, then I have every right to walk away.
The fact that I am the customer is why I don’t mind paging the doctor on call when I have an issue. As a matter of fact, I called a specialist after hours just last week without thinking twice about it, and am really glad I did.
The Moral Of The Story
Remember, if you are paying someone for their services, then you should expect good service. If your doctor makes you feel bad for asking questions or requesting a second opinion, then you need to take action. You can either tell them that you don’t like how you are being treated and see if things change, or you can ask for your file and walk out the door. Just because someone is well educated or is possibly well respected in the community does not mean they are above you and therefore are allowed to be condescending to you.
On the other hand, if the problem is YOU and you are just intimidated easily, then you need to get over it. You are in charge of your own health, and it is up to you to get the best care for your body. Would you rather get early treatment for an illness and maybe feel a little stress over calling the answering service? Or, would you rather suffer because you are afraid you will sound stupid, and then end up with a more severe illness? Those questions may sound silly, but I don’t know how many times I have heard people say they just didn’t want to go to the doctor in case it was ‘nothing’. I think the opposite- I would rather go to the doctor and find out it was nothing!
So, are you uncomfortable calling your doctor after hours? Do you have a story to share about either a good or bad experience with your doctor?