A Patient Complained About Me This Week

You may find this hard to believe … but I’m actually really good with people.

Yes. I have zero patience, have little tolerance for stupidity and I’m a class-A control freak … but still, I’m pretty good with people. And that’s mainly because I control my emotions and try to remain empathetic to people’s situations.

You will rarely see, or hear, me lose my temper with people. I try and remain happy, breezy and light hearted. I do this mainly because I figure if we all have to be there, let’s make the best of a crappy situation, right?

And I keep my thoughts to myself. If I ever run into someone who can read thoughts? I may need to run for my life.

I work in a health-care clinic (in case you didn’t know that). So I deal with people who are in pain and looking for answers. The clinic I work in is sort of a last stop for a lot of patients. The doctors I work for are specialists and if they can’t help you, then you’ll likely just have to learn to live with the condition.

It’s often a frustrating and disheartening place to work at times because of the nature of the business.

I get that. I understand. So I go to work every day mentally prepared to be overly sympathetic to people’s plights.

Most days? It’s not that bad. I’m constantly surprised at the number of people who come to my desk to schedule a follow-up visit and/or further testing who are generally in good spirits. I suppose at that point, there’s still hope for some sort of answer to their chronic pain. People have retained their senses of humor and are very pleasant to interact with.

And then … there are those people who have been told there is nothing our doctors can do for them. Or they’ve been given bad news and then? I’m a scapegoat for their frustrations because I’m one of the last people they see when they leave the clinic.

This lady approached my desk to check out. It started innocently enough. She wasn’t due to come back for a few years and I could sense she was in a hurry. I just figured she had probably been waiting a while and was anxious to get out of there.

I couldn’t blame her. Whenever patients have a noon or later appointment, chances are, they’ve been in the clinic for a while. Because by that time, it’s likely the doctor is running late because previous patients took longer than he thought they would, or he was called to the hospital for an emergency. Delays happen … nothing is black and white in the health care field.

The woman wanted something from me to state that she had been in the clinic that day so she could reimbursed for mileage/gas … whatever.

No problem. I would print something off for her, stamp it with her doctor’s stamp and she would be on her way.

Only. My program crashed.

I have one particular program, the program that I’m in for most of the day, crash on me at least once a day. My IT guy knows about the problem, but he can’t do anything about it until the main hospital releases some sort of security patch.

Bummer.

So of course, my program picks this precise moment to crash. And the lady is already annoyed because she had been in the clinic for a few hours and the doctor didn’t spend much time with her because everything was going well and well, there wasn’t much to spend time ON.

Instead of waiting for my program to come back up, she produced some sort of log book for me to sign.

STOP. Wait a minute.

I’ve been a manager. I’ve been a loan processor. I’ve been a notary public. I’ve been accountable for hundreds of thousands of dollars for a company. I have enough experience to KNOW, you never, EVER blindly put your name to something.

EVER.

Don’t ever let anyone pressure you into signing something until you’ve had a chance to read it. And if you STILL don’t feel comfortable signing it, then DON’T SIGN IT.

Now granted, I’m sure this lady’s log was fine. She had several other signatures in her log and I’m sure it was perfectly legitimate. But there was just something about this woman’s … demeanor I didn’t trust. And quite frankly? I didn’t want to sign it. I didn’t want to be accountable for this woman’s life, no matter how small, at any time either now or in the future.

So. I responded with, “I’m not signing that.”

Granted. I probably could have said it nicer. Because it did sound a bit rude, now that I think about it. But I tried to immediately soften the blow by apologizing, AGAIN, for the inconvenience of her wait and my program was back up and I could print her out something.

Still. I had no idea she was THAT upset until the cashier, who patients see the very last to make sure they’ve made their co-pays, etc., came up to me and said, “Head’s up. That last patient? Said you were rude.”

*sigh* Of course she did.

Before I had a chance to go to my boss to explain my side of the story, another patient walked up and wanted my help. And by the time I finished my transaction with that particular patient, the woman had called my manager and complained.

My boss called me into her office and we had a little chat. She was super cool about it and completely understood my situation. She reiterated that I didn’t have to sign anything if I didn’t want to and that was the extent of my talk. I’m sure it had more to do with the fact that she can hear every single conversation I have with either patients who come to my window or with someone on the phone, and she knows I’m never deliberately rude to people and that I try my hardest to be accommodating.

In fact, I’m too nice sometimes and patients try to use that to their advantage.

At any rate, here’s how I see it – this job doesn’t pay me enough to risk my signature on some strange woman’s log book that she uses for God knows what.

I like my job, but I have to draw the line somewhere.