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Take Care of Your Health-Don’t Hesitate To Get Medical Care

June 14, 2011 · 22 comments

in Health & Fitness

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?

 

 

 

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Moneycone June 14, 2011 at 7:21 am

Very true (especially with Doctors!)! There was a documentary where they exposed why US has so many C-sections – doctors have complete control over when the delivery will take place! Quite appalling actually.

On the other end, don’t abuse 911! Sure you pay taxes, but if it isn’t life threatening, use emergency services judiciously.

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Kris June 14, 2011 at 11:32 pm

That is scary about doctors scheduling C Sections around their schedule. I never had a C Section, but I know the recovery is supposed to be a lot more difficult than with standard delivery.

Regarding calling 911, you really should only do it when you have to. But, I always say to err on the side of caution if you aren’t sure what to do.

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Crystal @ BFS June 14, 2011 at 10:00 am

I wouldn’t know how to reach our doctor after hours, but whenever his office is closed (he only works 3 1/2 days a week, lol) or he doesn’t have an appointment open that day, we call the Kelsey Seybold office down the street. They are open crazy hours and have about 20 doctors on staff…we’ve only had to use them twice so far but I was glad that they were there. :-)

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Kris June 14, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Crystal, it sounds like you have your situation pretty well under control, even though your doctor doesn’t have very convenient hours. However, would your opinion change if you or your husband suffered from a more chronic illness that would benefit from continuity of care?

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Liz June 14, 2011 at 10:47 am

Really interesting post. I do feel really bad when I consider contacting my doctor after hours. This post made me wonder if that fact that I am living in a country where we have universal healthcare, and so there is no bill when I visit the doctor, makes me feel less like a “costomer” than I would if I was in the US and, in turn, makes me more uncomfortable to act in a customer mentality

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Kris June 14, 2011 at 11:29 pm

Liz, not sure about what makes you nervous about bothering your doctor after hours, but I can tell you that is a very common feeling here in the U.S., even though many of us pay a lot of money out of pocket for our insurance. It is an interesting perspective though.

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No Debt MBA June 14, 2011 at 10:53 am

I really like Kaiser Permanente’s model of having in house urgent care facilities and staff. They’re an HMO and very integrated so you can go into urgent care if it’s outside your doctor’s normal hours and they’ll understand your insurance (because they are your insurance), have access to your medical records, be able to contact your doctor to let them know what happened, and you can pick up any medication they’ve prescribed at the pharmacy across the hall.

With that set up you’re much more likely to seek care when you need it. Which is the whole point since letting something sit too long can make treatment way more costly and Kaiser Permanente is both the insurer and the provider of care so they want to minimize that cost.

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Kris June 14, 2011 at 11:28 pm

That is interesting about Kaiser, I didn’t really know their model until you wrote this comment. I am surprised this type of medical provider/insurer has not gotten more popular. It sounds great.

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krantcents June 14, 2011 at 12:22 pm

There is no reason to treat doctors any differently than anybody else. This is one of the reasons I want to select my own doctor. I have access 24/7 if I want it, but I do not abuse it.

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Kris June 14, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Krant- I like your attitude! Doctors have 26 chromosomes like everyone else and while they should be respected, they should not be feared.

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retirebyforty June 14, 2011 at 12:35 pm

We had a fabulous doctor for Mrs. RB40′s delivery. It was Sunday and she came in and basically spent her day off with us.
I don’t like my primary care doctor though. It always take 2-3 weeks to get an appointment. I just go to urgent care if I have a serious problem that needs taken care.

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Kris June 14, 2011 at 11:26 pm

RB40, it sounds like your wife has a great OB/GYN.

It is awful when you can’t find a good PCP. It is really important to have a doctor you trust and knows your history. I hope you someday soon find a doctor that isn’t so overbooked. It is a shame you have a doctor you can never access and end up in urgent care instead.

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Squirrelers June 14, 2011 at 1:33 pm

This is a great post and topic. I’m glad you’re bringing this up, and I have a post in the works that covers this as well. So, just so you know you may see this topic brought up again in a little different context:)

Anyway, as for the idea of doctors as service providers, I agree. They ARE service providers. Of course, they’re highly educated service providers with a level of social status that many people acknowledge in way or another. They’re different, but in the end they’re service providers.

Now, I would say one of the differences is that with true health emergencies we’re told to call a doctor’s office or after hours line when truly needed. I personally, for myself, have not had to do that. Hopefully I don’t ever have to do that. However, if need be, I would do it. Sure, I would have some hesitation, but if it was a crisis I would call them. After all, that’s what they generally offer, right – the option to call after hours in the case of a true emergency? Plus, if it’s an emergency, getting treated is more important than their worrying excessively about their convenience.

I’m appalled to read of that OB/GYN’s reaction to your call. That’s not acceptable at all. A woman about to have a baby shouldn’t be scolded or brushed off. I hope you never had any dealings with that so-called health care provider and told people about the experience as well.

All this said, I do see where your hesitation in calling comes from, and it’s understandable. The main idea is that in a true emergency you might need to call them and they should be ok with it if they offer an after-hours emergency contact line.

The bigger picture topic is the notion of doctors as service providers….

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Kris June 14, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Squirrel, I never did deal with that idiot doctor again. Fortunately, the doctor I did like got out of the jerk’s practice and started his own practice. He delivered all 3 of my kiddos and it was a great experience. (No C-Sections either.)

I truly do not hesitate to call an answering service if necessary anymore. I used to be more nervous, but now I truly just do what I have to do to ensure everyone stays healthy. Actually, when I called the doctor last week, he told me he was really glad I did call him instead of going in to Urgent Care. (Long Story…) A doctor like that is worth their weight in gold, as opposed to a doctor that makes you feel like you are inconveniencing them when you are dilated to 7 and have the urge to push…

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Sandy H @ Journey To Our Home June 15, 2011 at 6:45 pm

When I was having my first baby- I had a major hemorrhage in the middle of the night- I called a friend to take me to the hospital, I didn’t even consider calling my doctor. My second hemorrhage occurred Saturday morning and I had been advised when it happened again to have the on call Dr paged. I did, and called my friend to take me to the hospital. But the on call Dr made me feel stupid for calling and didn’t meet me at the hospital like my OB said they would to deliver my baby. Instead they did everything they could to stop my contractions and not have to deliver on a Saturday. But I showed them and woke not one, but two OB’s at their practice up at 11 pm a couple of days later with my third major hemorrhage and they had to come deliver me at an inconvenient time anyway.
I didn’t go back to their practice either.

Another story? My husband was recently having really bad heartburn on Friday night- he suffered the LONG memorial day weekend and when he called his Dr on Tuesday for an appointment was told to go straight to the ER. He could have done that on Saturday or even Friday night instead of wasting the entire weekend. The positive- he wasn’t having a heart attack and is going through more testing to determine what is going on. But he waited three extra days to see the Dr when he just ended up at the ER anyway.

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Kris June 15, 2011 at 11:22 pm

Sandy- I think a lot of doctors just do not want to deal with the risk of handling a possible heart patient, so I am not surprised your husband’s doctor did that. I am so glad he is ok.

That is a terrible story about your labor. It is so hard to understand what is going on with your first baby too, and you are so nervous. Even if it was your 20th child though, if you are hemorrhaging, you need immediate attention and a sympathetic doctor. I don’t like your doctor either!

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Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer June 15, 2011 at 10:59 pm

My provider is part of a medical group and my insurance is with a HMO so I would go to the urgent care center after hours and when it’s closed to the ER.

There’s no way I’d get my doctor on the phone after hours no matter how much I might want to. But it doesn’t matter to me since I’ve never needed to once in the past 10 years.

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Kris June 15, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Kay Lynn, why wouldn’t you ever call your doctor after hours? That is part of the job. I am not saying you should call if you have the sniffles, but if you have an urgent question about medication or something else, you really shouldn’t hesitate to exercise your right to get medical treatment from someone you know and trust.

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Kay Lynn @ Bucksome Boomer June 15, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Because I would never get to my doctor. If it was after hours, I would have to talk to the nurse advice line.

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First Gen American June 16, 2011 at 6:50 am

I had a miscarriage the last week of the year, just a couple of days after christmas. The hospital was noticably shorstaffed. The hospital didn’t do my DNC correctly and 2 weeks later, I was back again, hemmoraghing. When I went to the ER the second time, I told the woman at the desk that I was bleeding so badly and I needed a bucket or something. She thought I was exaggerating and refused to stop what she was doing until she finished all my hospital forms and filling out my paperwork. I felt stuck. I knew I couldn’t move without making a mess, but she just told me I was fine and I could get up now. Finally, I was like..oh well and I just did what I had to. When I got up off my chair I literally gushed blood all over her office and floor, in front of all the people in the emergency room. At that time she acknowledged that I really was bleeding pretty badly. Then someone came into help me in the ER who I thought was a nurse and told her of my DNC. She asked me “what’s a DNC”. I guess it was a candy striper, not a nurse. That was a very long night.

Unfortunately bad hostpital experiences are quite common. People put health professionals on a pedestal but they are just like any profession, there’s 10% that’s outstanding, 10% that’s horrible and everyone is somewhere in the middle.

Small towns do have their downsides and mediocre health care is one of them.

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Kris June 16, 2011 at 4:26 pm

First Gen, that is a terrible story. How long ago did that happen? I am surprised you didn’t pass out from all the blood loss.

I want to drive to that small town and smack that worker. It is hard enough to have a miscarriage in the first place, let alone go through a D&C and then have that go wrong. I probably would have started screaming and crying.

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