Just call me Staph

Today I returned to the private specialist to have two stitches in my hand removed. I waited one hour to be seen, had one stitch removed during a very brief consultation and was then charged €150 for this pleasure. And to cap it all, I’ve been asked to return next week to have the last stitch removed. Can you believe it?

I’m still angry about this check-up. I arrived five minutes early for my appointment but had to wait until four people ahead of me had been seen. When I was eventually called in to the doctor’s room, I received no apology for the delay and this did not impress me. I had a punch biopsy performed on an infected lesion a week ago and was asked to return to get the biopsy report and to have the stitches removed. Only one stitch was taken out today – the specialist felt that the wound hadn’t fully healed thanks to my history of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). I was surprised by this as my hand looked pretty good to me but I didn’t argue.

The only good bit of news today was that the biopsy report showed the lesion to be non-malignant. The not-so-good news was that the swabs taken one week ago, show that I remain colonised (in my nose) as well as infected (in the hand) by the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. I’m all too familiar with Staph aureus having fought a long battle with it in the past, with infection due to MRSA, the antibiotic resistant strain of this bacteria. About 20-30% of the population are colonised with Staph A at any given time but unless they become infected by it, it does not pose a problem. A swab taken two weeks ago established that my present infection is sensitive to penicillin thankfully and I’ve been undergoing treatment with an appropriate oral antibiotic since then. I now also have to begin a de-colonisation treatment which involves using an antibiotic nasal ointment for the next year.

I think what bugged me the most about today was the sheer arrogance of it all. I’m well used to delays in doctors’ clinics and I don’t have a problem with this as long as I receive a simple apology. I can appreciate that doctors are very busy people but that doesn’t excuse bad manners. My consultation was very rushed lasting just 5 minutes or less, and I was given little or no opportunity to discuss anything. When I was asked to return in another week’s time for follow-up, I presumed that there would be no charge for today’s consultation. Not only did I presume wrong, I was asked to pay the same amount as I paid for the initial consultation two weeks ago. Usually a lesser charge is made for a return visit. And as if to rub salt into the wound, I also had to pay double the car park fee thanks to the long wait to be seen.

Now, I’ve seen many doctors over the years but I’ve never, ever felt as ripped off as I did today. I despair if this is the sort of health service we can anticipate when/if our Minister for Health gets her wish to privatise healthcare in this country. I did not settle today’s bill on principle and instead offered to pay next week when my treatment has been completed. The doctor’s secretary was not amused and insisted I took away a bill showing that €150 was still due for ‘Con 2’. I sure felt conned alright! You have to realise that the specialist will also be handsomely paid by my insurance company for carrying out the biopsy as a day procedure. It looks as if consultation no. 3 may well result in another charge and I’m suspicious now that this may be the real reason for why the final stitch wasn’t removed today. I think I’ll ring in the morning and query whether or not there’ll be another charge. If this is the case, then I might have to remove my own stitch and treat myself to some retail therapy instead.

My Christmas wish is that one day I’ll be able to wave goodbye to ‘Staph’ and resort back to being just plain old Steph.

14 Responses to Just call me Staph

  1. bendygirl says:

    Steph, I’m so sorry to hear about this set back, and how outrageously expensive it was! The UK should be looking far more carefully to Ireland as a salutary warning of private healthcare, no matter the problems in the NHS, I dread to imagine how bad things would be if we get pushed down that road. I do hope you get better treatment next week, but if it’s supposed to be private, can you go elsewhere?
    I wonder if the DrRant team would be interested in this post as they are blogging against the move towards private healthcare atm? Perhaps you could post them a link? I hope it heals soon, hugs BG xx

  2. Steph says:

    Thanks BG. It was a bit of a rant wasn’t it but at least I got it off my chest 😀

    I phoned the doctor’s secretary this am and was told that “Yes”, they always charge the same fee for a follow-up consultation and that “I was lucky as he hasn’t put his fees up in six months”!!!

    I’ve asked the secretary to ask the doctor if he intends charging me again next week. The reply I got from her was “I’m very busy today but I’ll see what I can do”. I made my feelings known on the situation and politely (grrr!) asked her to return my call.

    If there is a charge/if she doesn’t return my call, you can be sure I won’t be returning next week.

  3. Grannymar says:

    Oh Steph, how awful for you. I have come across bad manners on occasions over these past five years. I have pulled a doctor or three up over basic common courtesy in my time. They don’t like it, but I don’t like bad manners either. Since I am older than most of them not lost my marbles or totally deaf, I am entitled to some respect. I usually ask quietly if they could stop for a moment and put their mother in my place and then start over again. It usually works!

    Right you were on time! Now what is a normal Consultation time 15 mins?

    €150 for 15 minutes, so that means €10 for I minute.

    €50 for five minutes is what I would offer and if they get sticky subtract half the parking fee after all the delay was not your fault. Did you keep the parking ticket by any chance?

    If more people stood up to these little jumped up gods the service would improve!

    Good luck next week.

  4. Grannymar says:

    Sorry for the rant, but my blood was boiling for you.

  5. Steph says:

    Grannymar – you’ve cheered me up enormously. Thanks for that rant. You’ve confirmed my feelings entirely and I really lo…ve your calculations 😀

    I’ve just been out to get my hair cut and got a red streak put in at the front to match my defiant mood. Needless to add, the doctor’s office hasn’t returned my call – yet!

  6. It would be absolutely ridiculous if they wanted to charge you again. It would, quite frankly be a complete con and you should report them to the relevent authorities. Not that they’d do much about it but it might make you feel better 🙂

  7. Steph says:

    Cheers! LittleMedic – don’t you worry, I’m no fool. That Consultant has another thing coming if he thinks he can get away with such arrogant behaviour. I may only be small fry in his world but I can still make a lot of noise!

    btw Belated congrats on your Blog’s 1st birthday! 😀

  8. Harry says:

    Christ that’s expensive, don’t let them rip you off Steph. I’m holding hope that everything will turn out alright for you this time. Thanks for being so supportive recently, though I cannot even begin to feel your anguish.

    Stay well, Steph.

  9. nonny says:

    That is terrible Steph, it is clearly down to bad management. They could hardly go and charge you more next week, if they do try and pull a fast one I would refuse to pay. I hope you make a good recovery!

  10. Caoimhin says:

    More great writing from the keyboard of Steph! Nice one! 🙂

  11. Steph says:

    Thanks to all for your comments and support on this one.

    A quick update…
    The doctor’s office did not return my call. Are we surprised? Er… No! I have now cancelled my next appointment with this rip-off merchant and have written to him expressing my dissatisfaction with the service received. I don’t expect I’ll receive a reply but at least I’ve made my views known. I’ve no doubt however that I’ll receive another bill for the outstanding amount.

    My hand has healed well and it gave me great pleasure to remove my own stitch in two seconds flat! It shouldn’t give any further trouble as long as I keep up the treatment. If I do have any problems, you can rest assured I won’t be going back to yer man!

    What pains me most about this is the memory I have of all the little old ladies queuing up to see this guy last week 😦 He’s obviously discovered a niche market in pension funds. I hope one of them has the good sense to bash him over the head with a handbag 😉

  12. Baino says:

    Did you mistype the fee 150 EURO? To remove a stitch? Christ I’d have got me fish knife out and done it for free. That’s outrageous. And you’re justified in being pissed off. Steph, Doctors are mechanics for bodies . . nothing more, nothing less. Shop around until you find one you’re comfortable with. I do! Glad the hand has healed without any dramas.

    I just had a friggin’ hysterectomy which cost less than $1200 for the surgery and $500 for the Anaesthetic. That’s just over $1000 Euro and the first specialists consultation fee was 44 Euro (and included all the predictable probes and prods)! I’ll get 25% back from my fund and about $700 from Medicare (our public health system). I’m stunned at the cost. No wonder the Irish are so disgruntled with their health system. It’s shameful.

  13. […] of you who’ve been following the story of my biopsy, you will remember that I had a recent contretemps with a private consultant surgeon. Yesterday I received his response to my […]

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