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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk lovemachine97(Version 2)'s Avatar
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    Default John Stossel has lung cancer; says care is good, customer service 'stinks'

    Takes a die hard to write an opinion column from a hospital bed after a cancer diagnosis. I actually have had this conversation with my sister-in-law, an MD who formerly worked at a hospital. I tread lightly because we normally agree on things. But, perhaps not surprisingly, she believes medicine is an exception to everything else. The conversation is usually that she is not a clerk at Best Buy, she's not a landlord, she's not your technology expert, she's a doctor and that is something else.

    I've mentioned that in other parts of the country, places like Walmart and Walgreen's have cash only clinics on site with physician's assistants that get some very basic care to people at a very low price. We have those things too, but they are separate businesses and take insurance, not cash patients. I realize it isn't great care, but telling you to rest and drink liquids doesn't necessitate being tended to by a renowned brain surgeon.

    Any of you have similar experiences at a hospital? I have to say that, while I never had a pet, my wife's family put down their 12+ year old retriever last week. The customer service there was excellent. Not surprisingly, it's a cash business. My experience at doctor's offices and hospitals is similar. And it is the rare doctor who is friendly and talks to you like he/she is not above you (and my sister-in-law has the same complaints about other doctors being a-holes).

    Stossel: I have lung cancer. My medical care is excellent but the customer service stinks
    By John Stossel Published April 20, 2016 FoxNews.com

    I write this from the hospital. Seems I have lung cancer.

    My doctors tell me my growth was caught early and I'll be fine. Soon I will barely notice that a fifth of my lung is gone. I believe them. After all, I'm at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. U.S. News & World Report ranked it No. 1 in New York. I get excellent medical care here.

    But as a consumer reporter, I have to say, the hospital's customer service stinks. Doctors keep me waiting for hours, and no one bothers to call or email to say, "I'm running late." Few doctors give out their email address. Patients can't communicate using modern technology.

    I get X-rays, EKG tests, echocardiograms, blood tests. Are all needed? I doubt it. But no one discusses that with me or mentions the cost. Why would they? The patient rarely pays directly. Government or insurance companies pay.

    I fill out long medical history forms by hand and, in the next office, do it again. Same wording: name, address, insurance, etc.

    I shouldn't be surprised that hospitals are lousy at customer service. The Detroit Medical Center once bragged that it was one of America's first hospitals to track medication with barcodes. Good! But wait -- ordinary supermarkets did that *decades* before.

    Customer service is sclerotic because hospitals are largely socialist bureaucracies. Instead of answering to consumers, which forces businesses to be nimble, hospitals report to government, lawyers and insurance companies.

    Whenever there's a mistake, politicians impose new rules: the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act paperwork, patient rights regulations, new layers of bureaucracy...

    Nurses must follow state regulations that stipulate things like, "Notwithstanding subparagraph (i) of paragraph (a) of this subdivision, a nurse practitioner, certified under section sixty-nine hundred ten of this article and practicing for more than three thousand six hundred hours may comply with this paragraph in lieu of complying with the requirements of paragraph (a)..."

    Try running a business with rules like that.

    Adding to that is a fear of lawsuits. Nervous hospital lawyers pretend mistakes can be prevented with paper and procedure. Stressed hospital workers ignore common sense and follow rigid rules.

    In the intensive care unit, night after night, machines beep, but often no one responds. Nurses say things like "old machines," "bad batteries," "we know it's not an emergency." Bureaucrats don't care if you sleep. No one sues because he can't sleep.

    Some of my nurses were great -- concerned about my comfort and stress -- but other hospital workers were indifferent. When the customer doesn't pay, customer service rarely matters.

    The hospital does have "patient representatives" who tells me about "patient rights." But it feels unnatural, like grafting wings onto a pig.

    I'm as happy as the next guy to have government or my insurance company pay, but the result is that there's practically no free market. Markets work when buyer and seller deal directly with each other. That doesn't happen in hospitals.

    You may ask, "How could it? Patients don't know which treatments are needed or which seller is best. Medicine is too complex for consumers to negotiate."

    But cars, computers and airplane flights are complex, too, and the market still incentivizes sellers to discount and compete on service. It happens in medicine, too, when you get plastic surgery or Lasik surgery. Those doctors give patients their personal email addresses and cell phone numbers. They compete to please patients.

    What's different about those specialties? The patient pays the bill.

    Leftists say the solution to such problems is government health care. But did they not notice what happened at Veterans Affairs? Bureaucrats let veterans die, waiting for care. When the scandal was exposed, they didn't stop. USA Today reports that the abuse continues. Sometimes the VA's suicide hotline goes to voicemail.

    Patients will have a better experience only when more of us spend our own money for care. That's what makes markets work.

  2. #2
    Sinner's Swing! UncleCrappy's Avatar
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    Similar experience to Stossel? Yes, of course. Every time I've been in the hospital (rarely) or a family member has. That's the way hospitals are. Both physicians and staff are non-communicative or condescending. I've never known it any different.

  3. #3
    ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ Number 47's Avatar
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    Great topic. Someone out there must be scouring the internet for content.

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  5. #4
    Banned! Motherload's Avatar
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    Obviously I have a different perspective since there is no cost to me. So if they want to do X-rays, EKG tests, echocardiograms, blood tests, MRI's, cat scans and a million other tests - then knock yourself out. Better to be safe than sorry. I think why wouldn't you want everything covered, especially when you are already told that you have cancer, but then again - I am not handed a bill afterwards. Although I suspect Stossel can afford it.

    A hospital isn't Starbucks or Walmart - they are not trying to please you per se in hopes that you come back, so customer service is probably the wrong word to use. If you didn't like the service you got at Starbucks, you might not come back. If you didn't like the service you got at a hospital once, but cut your fingers off in an accident - you are going back to that hospital.

    Could they be more considerate? Absolutely. Don't make an appointment for 4PM, but then make me sit there until 5:30. I agree with all of that - people should be contacted by hospital staff if a doctor is running late or any other factor. With email and text - there needs to be better communication between hospitals and patients.

    Reminds me of this from Seinfeld:


  6. #5
    Good Enough cabomiro's Avatar
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    I'm 42. Before February I've only done day surgeries so not too much interaction with the staff.

    Unfortunately had a heart attack at the end of February. Was in one hospital for 1 night after the procedure and then moved to another hospital for another 6 nights.
    Had amazing people taking care of me from the first minute until i was released. The surgeon, doctors and nurses were all very nice and approachable.
    Everyone always made sure everything was great, constantly asking if I needed anything.
    I even ended up sending the unit a Thank You card that's how good they were.
    Of course saying Please and Thank You always goes a long way with people.
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  8. #6
    Atomic Punk lovemachine97(Version 2)'s Avatar
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    So this got me to thinking. I have never been in the hospital. But about 10 years ago my dad had a heart attack. I rushed to the ER and found him there looking fine, joking, and wanting to go home. The ER doctor was very nice, talked to us as peers, did not use language that we don't understand, and told my dad that it didn't matter that it was a minor attack, he needed to be admitted and looked at further. Turned out he needed angioplasty. 6 months, a year, maybe more after that, I ran into the ER doctor at the bank. He didn't know me or recognize me, but I felt compelled to go up and thank him for his help and making my dad stay at the hospital. He said he didn't remember the case, but that once patients get admitted he hears nothing, so it's nice to know at least one worked out.

    Then I remembered what happened after he was admitted. My mother and I sat in the waiting room for hours. We got to a point that was over an hour longer than they longest they said it would take. It just so happened that the 12-hr nurse shift changed happened that, on her way out, a nurse recognized us and said, "They haven't called you yet?" Nope. She took us back and the procedure had been done for a while. Just no one thought, ya know, to fucking tell us. The cardiologist mumbled into his recorder, showed us a few pictures, and in a quick monotone and terrible English sort of quickly told us what had happened. It wasn't until he was in the ICU to recover and we had a personal nurse that we knew what was going on. (My dad is fine now, btw.)

    Later, my dad recalled not quite being fully under, and one of the reasons the procedure took so long is that the cardiologist kept calling out for stent sizes and the hospital was out of them. It's like, you went into an angioplasty procedure without knowing if you had the parts to put in my dad before doing it? What the fuck?

    Thinking in my own experience, the doctor I see the most is an ENT, and I see him because he is the only one that seems to actually listen to what you have to say. He has always done me well with sinus infections and allergies. Another ENT yelled at me for ear wax when he couldn't see my ears. This ENT told me I have a condition where it doesn't crumble out and I have to use peroxide regularly to clean them out. Another ENT told my wife she had total hearing loss in one ear and wouldn't listen to my wife that that was impossible. This ENT told her it was a pressure issue and a steroid shot later she was fine.

    So yeah, customer service is a problem in medicine, I think.

  9. #7
    Good Enough cabomiro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lovemachine97(Version 2) View Post
    So this got me to thinking. I have never been in the hospital. But about 10 years ago my dad had a heart attack. I rushed to the ER and found him there looking fine, joking, and wanting to go home. The ER doctor was very nice, talked to us as peers, did not use language that we don't understand, and told my dad that it didn't matter that it was a minor attack, he needed to be admitted and looked at further. Turned out he needed angioplasty. 6 months, a year, maybe more after that, I ran into the ER doctor at the bank. He didn't know me or recognize me, but I felt compelled to go up and thank him for his help and making my dad stay at the hospital. He said he didn't remember the case, but that once patients get admitted he hears nothing, so it's nice to know at least one worked out.

    Then I remembered what happened after he was admitted. My mother and I sat in the waiting room for hours. We got to a point that was over an hour longer than they longest they said it would take. It just so happened that the 12-hr nurse shift changed happened that, on her way out, a nurse recognized us and said, "They haven't called you yet?" Nope. She took us back and the procedure had been done for a while. Just no one thought, ya know, to fucking tell us. The cardiologist mumbled into his recorder, showed us a few pictures, and in a quick monotone and terrible English sort of quickly told us what had happened. It wasn't until he was in the ICU to recover and we had a personal nurse that we knew what was going on. (My dad is fine now, btw.)

    Later, my dad recalled not quite being fully under, and one of the reasons the procedure took so long is that the cardiologist kept calling out for stent sizes and the hospital was out of them. It's like, you went into an angioplasty procedure without knowing if you had the parts to put in my dad before doing it? What the fuck?

    Thinking in my own experience, the doctor I see the most is an ENT, and I see him because he is the only one that seems to actually listen to what you have to say. He has always done me well with sinus infections and allergies. Another ENT yelled at me for ear wax when he couldn't see my ears. This ENT told me I have a condition where it doesn't crumble out and I have to use peroxide regularly to clean them out. Another ENT told my wife she had total hearing loss in one ear and wouldn't listen to my wife that that was impossible. This ENT told her it was a pressure issue and a steroid shot later she was fine.

    So yeah, customer service is a problem in medicine, I think.
    They don't put you fully under. I actually enjoyed that as for the most part I got to see them working on my heart on a monitor. Talk about freaky and cool at the same time. of course the morphine helped as well.
    I do remember hearing them calling for different stent sizes and it reminded me of when I worked at an oil change place and had to call out the filter size to the other guy.
    But if they were out of certain sizes when your dad was going thru it, that truly is fucked up.
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  10. #8
    Atomic Punk lovemachine97(Version 2)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cabomiro View Post
    They don't put you fully under. I actually enjoyed that as for the most part I got to see them working on my heart on a monitor. Talk about freaky and cool at the same time. of course the morphine helped as well.
    I do remember hearing them calling for different stent sizes and it reminded me of when I worked at an oil change place and had to call out the filter size to the other guy.
    But if they were out of certain sizes when your dad was going thru it, that truly is fucked up.
    Yeah, once he was fully awake and with it, he told us. Said he was like, "Wtf?" but couldn't do anything about it. Sort of happened to me at the dentist. I hadn't been in a while, so my cleaning was done left side, then another appointment for the right side and removing two wisdom teeth. By the time the extraction came around, I had gotten shot up 2.5 hours ago and it was wearing off. So the dentist was already a little upset that I had been waiting so long. Then no one could find an extraction tool for him. I could hear him behind me trying to be nice saying, "You mean to tell me that we have a wisdom tooth extraction, but we don't have any clean tools to do it with? Never mind. I will go find one. Came back 5 minutes later with a new one, shot me up again, and pulled them out.

    The dentist is a bit better because a lot of the procedures are not covered by insurance, so it is more of a cash business. I am treated a lot better there than most doctor's offices.

    The worst is the OB/Gyn offices, most especially those with just one of them. Because they can be pulled away at any time for a birth, your appointment might be at 2pm and you won't get in until 430, yet like Stossel wrote, no one tells you. It's like, holy hell, if you know the doctor is gone and you're going to be hours behind, TELL PEOPLE!! My wife hates going.

    Which leads me to another story. My wife got a recommendation from her MD sister for a new OB/Gyn. The medical group is under the umbrella of the closest hospital to us where her sister has privileges. The number is just the number for the hospital (I called for her). I get transferred and it goes to a robotic voicemail saying that if I want to leave a message, I need to type in the correct number for the doctor. I don't know it. It isn't online. The operator doesn't know it. How the fuck do you make an appointment? I figured it out: you make the operator call for you. Then it turns out they wouldn't even talk to me because of HIPPA and apparently answering basic questions about your wife is a privacy violation, despite her telling me to call.

    Of course, that was after the entire office was closed for lunch, 12-1pm. In 2016.

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    I'm always awake for my pacemaker surgeries. I hate general anesthetic

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    Baluchitherium Ted Van Halen's Avatar
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    Both of my brain surgeries were awake with interaction between me and a neurologist having me perform simple tasks (wiggle my fingers , talk, etc) while the surgeon was mapping where to cut. They said I probably wouldn't remember it but I do vividly. Particularly the second time. His name was Jay and we talked about the corvette he was restoring. The first guys name was robin and we talked about misc stuff but I was more freaked out by the fact that they were still cutting my skull open when they brought me out of the twilight sleep to begin the mapping.
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    Forum Frontman It's Mike's Avatar
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    Can't say I've had a bad experience at a hospital. We had one crappy nurse during my wife's first pregnancy but we had two great ones as well. That's about the worst I can come up with.

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    Baluchitherium Harpospoke's Avatar
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    Nice to see Stossel sticks to his libertarian principles even under duress.

    I've not had the medical problems some have had, but I do go to the Veterans Hosp for checkups and stuff like eye and ear examines. Despite what the news says, the Vet Hosp in Dallas is excellent. Fast service (faster than the regular doctors I've gone to in the past), nice courteous staff (like EXTREMELY nice), and good care. That stuff I hear about must happen at other Vet Hosp.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Van Halen View Post
    Both of my brain surgeries were awake with interaction between me and a neurologist having me perform simple tasks (wiggle my fingers , talk, etc) while the surgeon was mapping where to cut. They said I probably wouldn't remember it but I do vividly. Particularly the second time. His name was Jay and we talked about the corvette he was restoring. The first guys name was robin and we talked about misc stuff but I was more freaked out by the fact that they were still cutting my skull open when they brought me out of the twilight sleep to begin the mapping.
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    Atomic Punk lovemachine97(Version 2)'s Avatar
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    I don't think there is any denying that the more red tape and the more people in between the customer and the product/service, the worse it is, though.

    Before my wife and I started dating, she got her ACL replaced. Her sister made sure to be there to explain to the Anesthesiologist doing the procedure that my (now) wife doesn't do well with anesthesia, it can nauseate her and make her vomit a lot. It won't kill her, but will make life miserable. She suggested something that would give the same care, but none of the vomit. The guy said no. Smash cut to 6 extra hours in the hospital for her puking her guts out. The anesthesiologist was long gone, and everything was going to get worked out between his billing company and insurance. Now, you can't pick your anesthesiologist, so to add insult to injury, the surgeon used one who didn't take the insurance, though the hospital was covered, but that mean we got balance billed after insurance paid him, and we ended up having to pay him nearly double ($1300) what insurance already paid him. To avoid collections, we paid.

    Then we get a bill from another physician who said he had consulted during the surgery. We were not told he might consult. We also were not told that something happened in surgery that necessitated a second doctor, nor were we told afterwards someone had consulted. Just a bill. We called that doctor and he wouldn't talk to us. We called the surgeon and his office referred us to billing who wouldn't talk to us. We called the other doctor again and his office hung up on us. To avoid collections, we paid.

    Now compare that to the end of last year, my wife decided that since we had met the deductible and wanted the sebaceous cysts on her scalp removed. You can't see them, but they hurt sometimes. Her sister had had some too and had them removed. But since she is a doctor, she had a doctor friend come to her house and do it on her dining room table. That's how easy this is. So it turns out our insurance has a daily maximum so the outpatient center wouldn't take it. Back to the same hospital as the knee surgery. The hospital called and told us what our out of pocket charge would be. For in and out in 45 minutes, it was going to be MORE than what staying 6 extra hours cost for the knee surgery. Then we realized she might have to stay longer, costing even more, if the anesthesia isn't right. AND we might get balanced billed. All of a sudden this is expensive.

    And don't forget--we knew this could be done in a home on a dining room table. So I called the doctor up and explained and simply said, this is ridiculous for all of this. She can deal with the bumps. They call us a week later and they do the procedure in his office at no extra charge, no anesthesiologist.

    What this all has in common is that the inconvenience is no skin off the back of the doctors because they don't deal with the billing and they get paid no matter what, so who cares? My sister-in-law doesn't even know what her billing company charges people for her services. If you don't have good insurance and don't have a lot of doctor choices...I couldn't imagine.

 

 

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