I wrote to the consultant two weeks ago to let him know of my discontent following a recent check-up. My appointment was an hour late with no apology given, the consultation lasted all of five minutes and I was asked to pay €150 for this pleasure. To add insult to injury, the doctor removed only one stitch and asked me to return a week later to have the final stitch removed. I declined settling the invoice on principle and when I phoned the office the following day to enquire if a charge would be made for the final consultation, my call was not returned. I felt distinctly uncomfortable with this sort of treatment and considered it important to make my views known to the doctor. In my letter, I made the point that I was surprised by the charge considering the brevity of the appointment and the fact that I was being asked to return again. I also mentioned that his office had not returned my call. I never questioned the wisdom of his decision to ask me to return for such a minor reason although I strongly suspected his motive. My letter was polite and to the point.
The doctor telephoned me in person yesterday. I was told the following, very quickly and in no uncertain terms – “I am sorry to find that you do not appreciate my professional integrity. The delay you experienced was due to the fact that some consultations take five minutes while others may take up an hour – that is the nature of my practice (no apology given). I have to charge everyone who comes into my consulting room if I am to be able to continue to consult on these premises. (Voice begins to shake) It is a great pity that you do not respect my integrity…” Then the phone was rapidly put down before I could respond.
To put it mildly, I was gob smacked. I think the fact that this guy jumped to the conclusion that I was questioning his professional integrity, is very revealing. It’s obvious he considers himself to be above and beyond reproach. The bullying manner of his phone call was disgraceful for a man in his position – his intention was to silence me by denying any opportunity for discussion. Thankfully, I did succeed in butting in at one point to say that an apology for the delay would have gone a long way but this fell on deaf ears. I couldn’t tell if his quivering voice towards the end of the call was due to rage or upset – whichever – it was a sure sign that his arrogance had been dented. If he’d offered a simple apology I would have accepted it but he instead chose to take offence to my letter and to blame me for daring to question his arrogant behaviour. And to make matters worse, he expected me to sympathise with him for the expenses he incurs in running his salubrious private practice. Come on!
It gave me great pleasure to take out my own stitch and as expected, I’ve had no further need to see a doctor. I shall also very much enjoy recounting this tale to my GP when I next see him. He knows me well and knows that I’ve always enjoyed a good rapport with the many specialists I’ve had to consult over the years. For the doctor/patient relationship to work, the respect has to be mutual. Maybe I’ve just been lucky up until now to have experienced the care of some fantastic doctors who are a credit to their profession. I suppose there are a few bad apples in every cart and medicine is no exception. I find it disheartening to consider that this sort of experience is likely to become more commonplace if our Minister for Health gets her way to promote a 2-tier system of healthcare in Ireland.
I’ve no doubt that I’ll receive another invoice for the outstanding charge. After all, this jumped up arrogant git has to protect his integrity! If I do hear from him again I think I’ll do what my wise blog friend, Grannymar, has suggested and bill him for the extra expense incurred in the car park, thanks to his delay. It ain’t over yet, folks!