What To Do With The Problem Patients

, , | Healthy Right | January 17, 2019

(I am a receptionist for a medical clinic primarily dealing with elderly patients, meaning that they usually need to have everything explained to them slowly and multiple times to fully understand. We have very few patients under 65, and they normally have no problem understanding anything the first time. Or so I thought. This patient calls in after seeing a doctor the previous day.)

Patient: “Hi, I just saw [Doctor] yesterday, and she ordered some labs for me, which I got done, but no one told me what to do next.”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry about that. Normally after you have blood work done, the doctor will call you if there are any abnormal results, or we can book another appointment for you to go over those results.”

Patient: “Okay, but no one told me what to do. I’m in pain now.”

Me: “I understand, but those are the options for following up with lab results. Would you like to book another appointment?”

Patient: “Look, no one told me what to do!”

Me: *thinking doctor noted followup instructions in visit notes that I can relay to patient* “Can I get your full name and date of birth?”

(The patient gives info and I pull up their chart. The patient is definitely not elderly.)

Me: “I apologize, I’m just looking at the doctor’s notes really quick.”

Patient: “This is so confusing; nobody told me what to do next! What do I do?”

Me: “I don’t see any followup notes in here. Would you like me to book you another appointment with the doctor to discuss your labs when the results are in?”

Patient: “Fine.”

(I check the schedule, but due to a shortage of doctors, we can’t get him in for two weeks.)

Patient: “This is so frustrating; I’m in pain now!”

Me: “I apologize. Would you like me to just have the doctor call you when the results are in?”

Patient: “This is so ridiculous. No one told me what to do and I’m in pain. What do I do?!”

Me: “We can book you an appointment or I’ll just have to doctor call you; which would you prefer?”

Patient: “I don’t know what to do; nobody told me anything! What do I do?!”

Me: “Sir, I’ve told you your options on what we can do. We can book you an appointment or I can have the doctor call you. What would you like to do?”

Patient: “The doctor didn’t tell me; WHAT DO I DO?!”

Me: “Sir, I’ve told you what your options are, so I guess I’m not understanding what you’re asking me. I can book you a followup appointment or just have the doctor call you.”

(After going back and forth like this for a few more minutes, the patient grudgingly decides to book an appointment. After struggling to find a time that works for him, we finally get it scheduled.)

Patient: “So, what do I do if I don’t understand something the doctor said?”

Me: *at this point frustrated to the point of shaking* “You should probably ask for clarification on something that isn’t clear.”

Patient: “So, if I don’t get something, I should ask the doctor or nurse?”

Me: “Yes, you should ask questions if you don’t understand something.”

Patient: “WELL, NOW YOU’RE JUST INSULTING MY INTELLIGENCE!”

Me: *head-desk*

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