Working in the healthcare industry taught me how important it is to keep patients updated on every step of their treatment to avoid any unnecessary delays causing undue stress, worry or anxiety.
Professionally, I take pride in what I do and I always do my best to make my customers happy and over deliver on their expectations. Dealing with doctor offices on a daily basis, I know exactly how hard it is to get in touch with doctors with their busy schedules.
As a patient, usually when I call and leave a message, I’m willing to wait up to 4 hours for a response. Some of my doctors will not call back until they are done with their scheduled patients, but they always call back sooner if it is something important.
When I was informed that I needed an ultrasound biopsy done on my “healthy” breast to check on a newly found spot, I called my doctor’s office to simply get an explanation and better understanding of next steps. But, no one bothered to call me back for hours. Upset and frustrated, I decided to leave work early and drive to my clinic. I’m so glad I did. I walked into the office only to find the office assistant doing everything but her job. All of my anger and stress was apparent, and thankfully a nurse navigator who saw what was going on came to my aid. She quickly put the office assistant in her place. Amazingly, within 30 minutes not only did I get all of the answers I needed but I had the ultrasound biopsy performed as well.
If not for my persistence and self advocacy, I don’t know how long it would have taken the office assistant to finally call me back that day. I needed my questions answered so that I could schedule the ultrasound biopsy.
It is very important to give your doctor a chance to call you back, but if you have patiently waited for a return call for several hours, it is time to take matters into your own hands. Who knows, maybe your case is also delayed by an incompetent office assistant.
Call often to get your answers. If your clinic utilizes the internet patient portal, use it to send the message as well. My oncologist actually prefers this type of communication. He always replies to my messages quickly or calls me the moment he sees the message. Ask your doctor which method of communication he/she prefers. And how long it usually takes them to respond. This way you will know how long to wait before taking more proactive actions.
Written By: Izabela Gardula, ANGEL advocate