I'm not sure about you, but I was spoiled by the level of care and bedside manner my team of oncologists and nurses and other medical professionals bestowed on me back when I was being treated and now during my routine follow up appointments.

Today I had to go down to my primary care physician's office in person (I kept getting the run around from the receptionist on the phone saying my doctor did not have any openings till the end of the month) to request a referral and get a new prescription filled which was suggested by another doctor- both the referral and the prescription could have been handled over the phone with ease. Since my usual doctor was booked I instead had to see some random doctor that didn't know anything about my medical history. During this visit I experienced so much unprofessional behavior from reception (they knew they were in trouble and were giving me a hard time for it) and a thorough lack of communication. In the end, I basically told the doctor which prescription to write and which doctor to send me to... all he did was sign his name.

I'm so use to the superior level of care I received from my oncologist that I'm appalled whenever I am treated less than that.

Just wondering if anyone else has experienced similar things?


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  • Hm, not quite like your scenario -- but another discrepancy between main oncology team and local care.

    My main oncology team was at MD Anderson. That place was amazing. The nurses there are top notch and are good enough to be doctors in some places. The care I received there is second to none. Some of the receptionists weren't as good, but NOTHING like what I experienced locally.

    I had a local oncologist whose job was essentially to monitor my blood tests and keep watch over me when I'd need transfusions and stuff. He had his own office, and he and his staff were pretty good. The ONLY medical team that billed me correctly EVERY TIME without fail.

    The other local services, however, were absolutely ridiculous. At first, I'd go to my local oncologist to have him draw my blood. He'd send it to a lab across the parking lot, and call me with the results. After a few months, I found out that the lab across the parking lot was billing my insurance for a doctor's visit copay when I'd never even met the doctor who runs the place. I only learned this because I walked into the office one day that my oncologist was out of town to have them physically draw my blood. They attempted to deny me service until I paid months' worth of copays. I essentially told them to F off because my insurance plan does not require me to pay copays for lab work. My wife had a nice phone battle with them later and got the insurance company involved. After that, we told my oncologist about the situation and said we will not be using their lab, so he pointed me to another lab in town where I could get everything done.

    BOTH of the local hospitals in town seemed to have major problems with the type of port I had. It wasn't rocket science. It was a simple Central Veinous Catheter port that allowed you to simply screw syringes directly onto without using a needle to access the port. It had two lumens. The phlebotomists who were sent to my room to draw my blood always had to get a supervisor because they weren't "trained" to use it. Really? Then, I would have problems with the supervisors not handling it correctly. I was instructed to flush it with a small amount of heparin (I was given boxes of little heparin syringes for the task) EVERY DAY and the MD Anderson staff also flushed it after EVERY TIME they accessed it to keep it from clogging with blood clots. The local nurses WOULD NOT flush with heparin no matter how much I told them to do it. I had to pack my own heparin and do it myself for awhile before my oncologist started writing SPECIFIC care instructions for them every month. In the process of all this headache, it clogged two different times, and one of those times I had to be admitted and they had to use even more powerful anticoagulants to open it back up again. I got on a first name basis with hospital administration (there are no patient advocates at my local hospitals like at MD Anderson).

    And then, one of the local hospitals is set up really wonky. So apparently the doctors are not employed directly by the hospital. I live in Texas, and the doctors are technically employed by some independent contractor out of Utah or something. So, when the bills get submitted to my insurance, it says the work was done by the place in Utah that employs the doctors, which is an "out of network" provider, even though the specific hospital is listed as in-network. I stopped going there simply for the billing headaches it created.
  • Isn't it funny that your doctors have no problem showing you how to flush your own lines and stuff like that, but medical professionals won't touch it? I had a few instances of that. I'm sure there's some legal reason behind it, but it's still interesting that you have free reign to do whatever to your central lines, feeding tubes, etc. with only a few minutes of training.

    I have dealt with my share of issues with office staff at my primary care office, even though it's part of the same health system as my other doctors. I have issues at some of the specialty clinics on occasion as well. I think my biggest beef would be when they "can't figure out the copay" even though I have the same insurance plan as the employees. After that it's, "We already turned our computers off, so can we just bill you?" (after any appointment that starts at 3 pm or later) and then the bill never comes, and I get a collections notice like 6 months later over $20 or something stupid that I could have just paid.
  • CareyCarey Community Member
    I haven't been to a PCP since I was 8, but I've seen my share of crap doctors in specialty clinics too. What drives my up the wall the most is the billing departments sometimes to just bill me willy nilly. Despite the fact I hit my out of pocket for the past two years, I'm still getting bills for stuff that was paid out in full along time ago. Then when you contact the billing office they say to contact insurance. What a pain. I sometimes wonder if they hire a team of bonobos to work the billing office.
  • We don't go to Ben's primary unless it's for labs...just because we have to drive 30 min to go anywhere and this is in our town...they are wonderful people but not experienced with cancer patients as far as I'm they have a difficult time getting blood from Ben. It's horrible. He goes straight into panic mode. He has to get labs done for his anti seizure meds. And I'm sure they are qualified just not experienced. They always tell him his veins are this and that, I hate when they "blame" him for it. He's a hard stick since he's been sick. So from here on out we are going to go to the hospital for labs...which means longer wait times, no walk ins, and at least 30 min drive time one way. Now Ben has 6 dr.s compared to none 9 months ago...that seems crazy! We've only switched on a neuro Dr. I do believe that it was so worth it. Ben didn't feel like we were being heard. That to us is a big deal. Especially when you are talking about his quality of life. If we arent' getting the care he deserves we will move on!
  • Carey;2926 said:
    I sometimes wonder if they hire a team of bonobos to work the billing office.
    I would have to agree. It seems that all they live to do is jerk off and screw people. (I hope someone gets that's the wildlife biologist in me coming out)
  • CareyCarey Community Member
    I do, but for those who don't know, Bonobos are the free love hippies of the animal kingdom.