The Big C Episode: Visiting A New Doctor

The Big C, a half hour  show  on SHO, is one of my favorite shows.  It is about a woman, married with one teenage son who has been diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma.  The first season was about  her coming to terms with her illness.  She decided not to tell anyone and do crazy things because she was going to die.  Some of the crazy adventures were, build a pool in her backyard even if it was against code, follow her feelings and enjoy what came along and not get any chemotherapy.  She had an oncologist who became her friend and tried to support her decisions.  At the end of the season, she begins to understand the need for support and treatment, starts chemo and fails.

The second season is her sojourn into the healthcare system. She  changes her doctor to a renowned melanoma specialist.  When she first tries to get an appointment, she is told it will take maybe 3-4 weeks or more.  She is horrified because she needs treatment now.  She calls several days in a row, begging to get in.  She finally gets so frustrated, she goes down to the office and pretends to have an appointment and walks in to one of the rooms.  Anyway, she ends up getting the appointment.

I have been known to visit offices that either don’t get back to me or the appointment is several months off.  I walk in, ask to see the office manager and wait.  I don’t do it for everyone, only when I know it is critical for care.

The episode last night made me laugh as it had to do with the first visit to the new specialist.  She is waiting in the exam room with her husband.  She is becoming agitated because it is already 30 minutes since being placed in the room.  Her husband’s comment is , well he is the best. Her response is, It’s rude. The doctor finally comes in and spends a few minutes and then says he will call.  She is not a happy camper!  As he leaves, she says she has more questions and he says email him.

Although this was television, it was very much like what I have experienced with many of clients especially at oncology visits.  I have waited at Dana Farber two hours for the surgeon.  Waiting seems to be the status quo.   I have left the room and asked where the doctor is.  It doesn’t matter.  One of my clients sent a bill to the doctor for his time.  He felt his time was valuable, he deserved compensation and the doctor wouldn’t even see him if he was two hours late.  The doctor actually sent him a check!

I have a solution for practices when doctors or nurse practitioners are late.  Ask the patient if they want to be texted, emailed or called notifying them of the doctor’s delay.  Why not.  My airline does it.  I would love it.  I always mention it to my doctor who rolls her eyes.  A girl can dream.