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Avatar universal

Unprofessional Doctor's Office HUGE Problem

Hi everyone, this is my first time posting here, but you seem like a very helpful, nice community. I have been going to the same PM doctor for almost three years. For about the past six months the staff, particularly the receptionist has become increasingly unprofessional. I put up with it initially because I absolutely LOVE my doctor and I have a very complicated case & am on injection type meds. Everyone knows how hard it is to find a good doctor so I really didn't want to switch. Also, it is very difficult-nearly impossible to find a doctor to prescribe that type of medication. Unfortunately, it's the only thing that helps and I have been on it for over six years. Anyway, at first, the receptionist kept giving me a hard time telling me that I was taking too long with the doctor and threatening that if I didn't hurry up that she was going to double the cost of my visit. My doctor is very thorough and takes his time and asks lots of questions-how am I supposed to hurry him up? Also, my visit is already $200 every 28 days-sometimes I wait for hours and hours. I did what I could to speed up the visits; as there is no way that I can afford $400 but she kept at me. She went so far as to spread my medical diagnosis to like 20 people in the waiting room saying that they have cancer patients that don't take as long and saying out loud where everyone can hear what my problem is. After this happened twice, I pulled her aside and politely asked her to please not violate my privacy. She claimed to be having a bad day. It got worse and worse. For one thing, for the past year or so, they have not been taking any vital signs before I go in (or anyone). I thought this was wierd and asked my doctor to see my chart- lo and behold there were numbers filled in every month just a point or two or a pound or two different. I was shocked that the receptionist was falsifying my medical records! About three months ago they started taking them again. I had gained weight over the past year, but my records show that I gained 25 lbs in four weeks! Two months ago I came in for my regular appointment and found out that my doctor was out of town. I had been PROMISED that I would NEVER have to see a different doctor. I requested that my appointment be rescheduled but the receptionist refused. I was told that this doctor would follow what I had been getting. Well, when I saw him he cut my meds by %70! He also said that I had to get a new MRI & go see a neurologist. I went to a neurologist for three years almost weekly there is nothing else they could possibly do. I went along with it figuring my doctor would straighten out the situation the next month. The alternate doctor also made all sorts of inappropriate comments to me including about my religion. It was so horrible and humiliating. He also said that my doctor was senile and didn't know what he was doing. The next month when I came in I told my doctor what happened and he basically straightened everything out. On the way out he handed my chart to the receptionist and gave her the information about my next appointment. As I was leaving, he gave me a hug and kiss and then asked me "what did the other doctor say about me?" I leaned over about an inch from his ear and whispered some of what was said. He gave me a hug and said he would see me soon. When I went to pay and get my scripts, the receptionist started screaming at me that she was so mad at me and that she heard what I said about doctor so and so. There was no way she heard me. First of all, there was a wall between us. Secondly, I whispered. The most she could have heard was his question. What's the difference if she heard me? What goes on between my doctor and me is confidential. She has absolutely no medical qualifications-why should she make decisions about my medical care? She screamed so everyone could hear that I had better give her my money quickly or she would throw me out. It was a horrible scene. I left not knowing what to think. I didn't receive a letter or anything so when my appointment came around I went in and was told that I had to leave. I requested my medical records and was refused. She said that the only way I could get them was to go to another doctor and sign a release. I told her I wanted them for myself and was told that I couldn't have them. I really don't know what to do. I feel like my HIPPA rights have been violated and that my health has been put into jeopardy by an unprofessional staff. I have no way to talk to my doctor without going through her. I'm considering contacting a lawyer. The truth is I don't want to find another doctor it's going to be a huge hassle. I don't think they should get away with treating me that way. I am so frustrated and upset. Sorry for going on so long but I wanted to give the details to get an honest opinion. Thank you so much.
28 Responses
Avatar universal
Since you can't seem to actually get to speak to your doctor when you call the office, I wonder if writing a letter, marking the envelope PRIVATE and sending it CERTIFIED, RESTRICTED RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED would help.  I'm not 100% sure, but I've heard that if you send it restricted like that, the ONLY person who can sign for it would be the person who it is addressed for - and that way you are SURE that it's your doctor who gets the letter and it doesn't get intercepted at the front desk like the phone calls.  Not only would that way give you a way to let your doctor know what's going on (I have my doubts that he is aware of the situation at all - from what you've said, he seems like a good, caring doctor and I can't imagine he would keep staff like that around).

What she is doing is definitely against HIPPA regulations.  Do you still have a copy of the HIPAA form they have every patient sign?  If so, you could always make a copy of that, highlight pertinent areas of it adn attached it to the letter you send to the doctor.

She also absolutely was wrong when she told you to leave when you arrived for your appointment.  It is NOT up to her to decide who shoudl and who should not see the doctor.  If you don't receive a CERTIFIED letter from their office stating that you have been dismissed for violating office policies, etc (SHE'S the one violating them by revealing your medical information to the entire waiting room!), there's no reason why you wouldn't have shown up for your scheduled appointment and expected to see the doctor.  If she said something like "you don't have an appointment scheduled", you simply could have pulled out your appointment card or paperwork noting the appointment information on it and shown her.  My concern is, with the way you've said they already have tampered with your medical file, if she did kick you out of the office before you were seen by the doctor, she very well could notate in your file that you never showed up for the apointment, and that, in itself, could be grounds for dismissal from PM (for some offices)  Some offices will permit a missed appointment once, maybe twice (for illnesses or emergencies), but not all do - some will not permit ANY missed appointments.

I'm not sure if the next step should be contacting a lawyer or trying writing the letter as I've suggested.  I'd hate for you to engage the help of a lawyer at great expense and then in hindsight find out if it would have been something you could have handled on your own.  However, whatever step you decide to take next, you need to make that step IMMEDIATELY - the longer you wait to contact the doctor himself, a) the more false information could be put into your file and b) it may look like you've been trying to come up with "reasons" and problems and that's why it took you a while to contact him.

As for your medical records, again, she is absolutely wrong - your medical records ARE YOURS - you have every right to have a copy of them - whether you are taking them to another physician or if they are for your own record/use.  They cannot deny you getting a copy, but they CAN make you sign a release for them and they also can charge you a reasonable fee for the copy, and they may also say they need a certain amount of time in order to get the copies together (my ortho office requires a two week notice in order to get medical records).

Best of luck!
Avatar universal
Thanks geminigirl1963!
You seem to grasp the situation. I've been reading up on the federal and state statutes on the sites that sarajmt posted. Great resources, by the way- I would highly recommend them. On my state's department of health website, I found a gmail address for my doctor, but I'm  not sure if it's a great idea to contact him that way...  I also found his home address, believe it or not, but I worry that it would be inappropriate to send him a letter there...  Fortunately, I had a friend witness most of what went on, so if they say I missed my appointment or something she can verify that I was there. She can also verify their refusal to provide me with my records & to speak with my doctor. This office has always been pretty flexible with missing appointments, although, the last time I tried to reschedule my appointment I had to wait 10 days for a new one... NOT GOOD!
The other thing that I worry about is that I obviously need to see another doctor soon if they won't give me my records or take 30 days plus time to write letters- what if they send false information to the new doctor when I sign the release?
I have ALWAYS complied with everything that my PM office asked of me, I'm always polite, never ask for early refills etc... I am so disgusted & worried about winding up in the hospital because of a nasty receptionist whose last employer was something like a strip club (not kidding, she told me)! Unfortunately, my doctor does not own the practice, but is the medical director... Thank you for all of the suggestions any more would be welcome, as I have to do something TODAY...
Avatar universal
In my opinion, it was very wrong for the doctor to hug & kiss you.....that could work against the both of you.

You are better off finding another doctor once you are finally able to retain your files. Can you have your PCP obtain them for you?
Avatar universal
He's in his 70's he always gives me a hug and kiss on the cheek. Very chaste. He's old enough to be my grandpa. Plus, no one has ever seen him do it. He just cares about me and I've been seeing him for years. No one knows about that detail except you guys, anyway. I know what you're saying, I once had a doctor tell me he loved me HUGE RED FLAG!! I left his office right away!!  This is nothing like that though. My OB/Gyn used to kiss me on the cheek when I saw him, but again it wasn't anything sleazy, just friendly.

Unfortunately, as I haven't had insurance for close to two years, I no longer have a PCP.

Thanks ;)
Avatar universal
Marley, I never even was thinking the sleazy route.  It's just unprofessional for a doctor to place one patient on a different plane than another.  It goes beyond the professional barrier.  Does it go WAAAAYYYY beyond?  Eh, probably not.  But in this case, it's not going to help you.

Can you contact your state medical board and ask them if there is anything they can do to help?
Avatar universal
That's what I'm trying to do. I have the numbers and I'm also trying to get in touch with an attorney today or tomorrow for advice. According to HIPPA they have up to 30 days to produce my records 60 if they ask for an extension. State law just says "a reasonable amount of time." If you do it through a lawyer they have a maximum of 10 days. I need to get into a doctor before I run out of meds and become VERY sick, so 30 days won't cut it.

Thanks everyone for your support. All advice is welcome!

Have a wonderful day today :)
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