Doctors: Take a Witness....
I am a 79 year old retired nurse who had a very bad experience with an Internal Medicine Doctor here in Phoenix, Arizona. I will refer to him as Dr. DA W.
I went to him in October of 2016 and was pleased with the doctor and the office on that first visit. He was appropriate, seemed nice and pleasant. I had labs drawn that day.
This doctor agreed to be my primary care physician and I do have good insurance.
When I logged in to the lab and got the results of my labs I was concerned. My serum K was 5.9. I have a second degree heart block and third stage chronic kidney disease. A high K could lead to a cardiac event. A very high or very low potassium is bad for a person with a heart disease. Also, if my potassium was high, it meant my kidneys were not removing potassium from my blood, as they should be doing.
So I made an appointment and went back to this doctor. he ridiculed me for being concerned about the high potassium.
I had brought my record of high blood pressure and high blood glucose readings and asked him to look at them. I felt if I could get those two things under control, my kidneys would work more normally.
He ridiculed me again for being concerned about the lab value. He refused to look at my record of high blood pressure/blood glucose. He put up his hand like a cop stopping traffic.
He refused to answer my questions and kept staring at me and saying "you are fine. you are fine. you are fine. you are fine." I felt like he was impaired as this was definitely not normal behavior for a competent doctor.
Suddenly he stood up and said "I want to do a breast exam." I was shocked. A breast exam? I have no breast problems. But I did have blood pressure problems.
I knew he wanted to do a breast exam because he can charge my insurance about $271 for it. So I cooperated, hoping he would then calm down enough to look at my blood pressure figures.
I put on the paper gown and he yelled at a female employee in the hall who came in and stood by the door while I lay on my back on an exam table while he rubbed his hand over each breast once. If I had had a breast problem it would NOT have been discovered by such a cursory exam.
Then, both the doctor and the tech RAN from the room, leaving me on my back on that exam table. I got down without falling and put on my shirt again. The woman stuck her hand in the door and handed me a paper and said "give this to the front desk" and she ran. That office must be very over booked and short staffed.
I did not see DA W again. He had deserted me on the exam table and he had NO interest in my high blood pressure. I did contact the Arizona State Medical Board and complain about the wasted medical appointment, the unnecessary breast exam, being deserted on the exam table and his strange chanting "you are fine, you are fine, you are fine."
This office learned I had reported him to the Arizona State Medical Board, so they sent me a letter saying I was fired as a patient.
Then, DA W added charges to my medical insurance claims for care that he never performed. He claimed to have done a "comprehensive examination", which was a lie. He claimed to have done assessments he didn't do. It HAS to be illegal to charge for care not done.
I wrote to my insurance company and complained and eventually I did get a small reimbursement check for the copay I had paid.
After six months , The Arizona state Medical Board wrote me a letter and told me they were going to dismiss my compaint because "he didn't break any laws."
I think he did.
It should be against the law to charge for care not provided. It should be against the law to add charges to an insurance claim after learning you have been reported to a state board. It should be unlawful to leave an old 79 year old woman on an exam table with no help getting down.
This horrible appointment happened on Nov 9, 2016. I am deaf and can't talk on the phone and make appointments. My caption phone is broken and I can't use it. It was May 30, 2017 before I was able to see a reputable doctor about the same concerns I took to DA W on November 9, 2016. He effectively limited my medical care by his incompetent behavior.
So my lesson is: ALWAYS TAKE A WITNESS. PREFERABLY A MAN IF YOU ARE A WOMAN. Dr. W. would never have acted like an idiot if I had taken along my husband. But I had no idea it wasn't SAFE to keep a medical appointment in a nice Internal Medicine Office...
I have asked the Arizona State Medical Board to review this dismissal. I want this doctor to receive a letter from the state board informing him that so long as he is an employed physician, it is his DUTY to address patients' concerns, such as high blood pressure. It should also be illegal to do breast exams unless the patient HAS a breast concern. Any woman who gets a mammogram every year does NOT need to be groped for billing purposes.
JoAnn Phoenix, Arizona