Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dear Pediatrician's Office

After being up a large portion of last night with a child who was fussy and hot I set my alarm to call you right at 8am so that I could bring him in for a check.  I waited about 15 minutes before I was able to schedule with you and since my regular pediatrician, who is reliable and attentive, was not in the office today I agreed to see someone else. 

I arrived on time and checked in.  I paid my co-pay and had a seat.  Fortunately my son was well behaved for about twenty minutes.  Then he started trying to pull me towards the door.  I am sure you understand that 22 month olds have a limited understanding of time and nearly no explanation will ever be adequate to break a tantrum should one start.  So I divert, entertain, and play some more until our name is called.  After checking his temperature and weight we are closed into a small room with no doors, no windows, and no cell phone signal.  The nurse assures us that the doctor will be in "in just a minute."  Ten minutes pass, then fifteen, then twenty.  To entertain him I look in his ears, eyes, nose, and mouth with your otoscope.  I feel a little guilty since I am not exactly qualified to use them but I also know that I see a touch of redness in the corners of both eardrums.  His throat is fine.  This game gets old so he crumples up the paper on the table.  He spills his cup on your floor and I clean it.  He opens the cabinets under the sink and crawls under.  He tries to dig in the trash can.  Now thirty minutes have passed.  He is getting antsy and so I nurse him and start to worry about my clients.  I get paid to be a labor support professional and right now my client who paid money for my services could be trying to reach me.  I have no cell signal here in the office so I have no way of knowing if she is beginning to panic because I am not answering my phone.  I hear your nurses outside gabbing about the latest new on the in-vitro octuplet mom.  She goes on and on for about ten minutes on what she thinks should be done with the babies.  I realize that it is just office chatter but couldn't she take those ten minutes and find out why I am still waiting to be seen by a doctor?  She must realize that we have been waiting a very long time!

After forty minutes toddler and I are back on the exam table wrestling around.  Then he wants me to look in his ears again.  I oblige and feel no guilt at all.  I figure that if you expect us to be in a tiny room for this length of time we will be playing with your stuff out of either boredom or desperation.  Forty-five minutes pass and I am starting to grow weary and so is my toddler.  He has now been cooped up for an unreasonable amount of time with very little to do.  He keeps pointing at the door so I open it and walk him down the hall for a lollipop.  I make eye contact with the nurses to make sure they know I am still in the room. 

The lollipop occupies him for another five minutes as he salivates yellow all down the front of his shirt and onto the floor.  At this point I no longer care about the floor.  I seriously consider leaving.

At fifty minutes he is losing it.  It's nap time and he is tired.  He swings at me and I try to divert him but he is a puddle of toddler angst on the floor.  He is done with being in this room.  After waiting in that tiny room for over an hour I walk out and ask the nurse if she knows when we will be seen.  I have many things to do today.  I had to take time off work to be here.  I have already screwed up my child's routine.  I have already seen the tantrum train rolling down the track at an unstoppable speed.  She assures me that the doctor will be right in. 

Within five more minutes the doctor rushes in.  I can see she is stressed.  She checks my son's ears and he is less than co-operative for her.  She declares he has the start of an infection and gives me a prescription to hold on to until I am certain he is not improving and sends me out the door.  Although she is nice she offers no apology for my time lost sitting waiting for her. 

In your parking lot my little one loses it.  He is hysterically crying because he is too overtired, hungry, and frustrated to cope.  I fight him into his seat and he bawls the entire ride home until the last two minutes when he drifts off.  When I arrive home I attempt to put him down but he refuses.  Now, almost two hours later he still won't nap because his schedule is so off.  He is in his crib right now bawling because he can't settle down and I can't help him.  If I had put him down when he was first tired after about 45 minutes of waiting in your office then he would be a different kid right now.  Instead, I have to deal with this mess of a toddler.  I'm sure you have forgotten about me by now but I haven't forgotten how long I waited in your office today because I have to listen to the results of it melting down twenty feet away from me.  You are worried about billing and charting but I am thinking about how having him this off his sleep schedule is going to make my next few days a nightmare. 

While I realize I am just a number to you and what I say will probably fall on deaf ears I still write in hopes that you will start considering the impact of your inefficiency and lack of planning on the families who rely on you to help them. 



Laurie said...

ugh, I hate that!! esp when it throws off their schedule for DAYS! thanks a lot , huh?

you should send this letter to the pediatrician. Lars

Frates Baby Farm said...

Send it...send it now. They need a copy of this. Things will not change until we begin speaking up. People need to start saying something. Poor Noah.

doula_char said...


If they were over scheduled, they should have sent you to urgent care. I went through a similar experience when Boo was little and having an asthma attack- 3 HOURS in the office before she decided that we needed to transport to the ER- another hour away because it was rush hour. If she had simply sent us within the first hour when it was obvious that he wasn't improving, the trip would only have taken 10 minutes.

Send this letter not only to your pediatrician, but to your state's medical board, and to your insurance company.

DoulaMomma said...

I agree - the letter is brilliant - send it! Hope your little one is better now...