Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Forgive me for saying so, and I know it's a small thing, but there's got to be a better way.

For the record, I'm well aware that in the great scheme of things, this is not a big deal; that there are more important things worth complaining about; and that I'm truly, profoundly grateful for my and my family's good health.  That said:

Is it just me, or does it seem like every time you go to a doctor's office these days, you have to fill out a new form with your name, address, social security number, birthdate, emergency contact, insurance information, etc. etc.?  I'm not talking about visiting a new doctor for the first time. I'm talking about practices where I've been a patient for years -- in one case, over a decade -- and every year when I go for my exam, they hand me a clipboard with a few pages of forms on it, and tell me to just have a seat and fill this out.

Yes, I know that medical information privacy policies change and that the office needs a current signature attesting that, look, they gave it to me, see? and if I don't know what it says, I have no one to blame but myself, right?  Right, fine. Give me the new signature sheet, and I'll sign it.

And yes, of course people's addresses, insurance providers, and names do change. I've moved and changed jobs a fair bit myself, and my name has changed three times. Still, these things do sometimes remain the same from one year to the next, no? The date of my birth, in particular, is immutable. I know this, because I'm having no luck muting it.

Oh, office managers, I know the potential for efficiency is there.  Consider the nifty little ink stamp you use to save us writing a mere two words when making out the check for our co-payment. So why can't we patients just review the forms your files already contain, and make changes if any are necessary?

Fellow patients, don't bother asking this question, no matter how friendly you are.  They can't have that.  Just take the clipboard, shut up, and start writing, bitch, because... well, because maybe they're "going to a new system"!  or maybe they don't know why it has to be that way but an innovative thought might kill them on the spot!  or maybe they're conducting a long-term handwriting analysis, which, by the way, YOU WOULD KNOW ABOUT if you'd read the privacy policy!  or maybe they just bloody well feel like having new forms, and in any case, anything they make you fill out is NOTHING compared to what THEY have to do, so JUST. TAKE. A. SEAT.


  1. There frequently is a better way, but people just don't have the assertiveness to question. Every clerk, receptionist, municipal employee all of a sudden has power over you. Sent a letter to local police dept. in connection with client matter, they sent it over to a clerk, who calls me up and starts playing the game. I no longer play that game. I tell her I do not play the game any more, she hangs up on me. I call back and ask for the Chief, you know what he doesn't play the game either, he got me the info I needed. The game is how you can jerk people around long enough to get them to bend to your will or go away. Irs, is big on this--don't bend. Be cool, be courteous, but do not bend and do not go away.

  2. Yes.

    I got to be a parent, and then I got to be 40, and then I got to thinking, you know? There is NO REASON I deserve to be treated this way, no reason I shouldn't speak up if I can do it politely and kindly, no reason I need to go away to placate petty minions.

    There was no reason for it before I was a 40something mother, either, but that's what it took for me to believe it.

  3. God, I know. I work in a medical office where our clientele seems to move every ten days, so we have to do the multiple form thing.

    But, I hate doing it when I go to the doctor. What I really hate, though, is that it seems like every time I go to the doctor, they find something new wrong with me. I am getting paranoid about even going in for check ups now.

  4. ahahahahahaha! This post is awesome!

    I like your blog! Thanks for having me on your blogroll. I linked to you in this post today.

  5. So why can't we patients just review the forms your files already contain, and make changes if any are necessary?

    They should hand you a computer printout and ask you to update it, rather than fill out a form from scratch everytime. It would be much better record-keeping. I'm sure, for example, that I check "yes" for relatives with cancer sometimes, but probably forget other times I have to fill out the same damn form.

  6. Hi Zuska, thanks for reading and linking!

    And hi, Rugosa! Yep, I think the computer printout is the way to go. Doesn't seem like it would be all that difficult... sigh.