I met a new pediatrician in our local pratice yesterday, when I brought my 9-year-old daughter in for a possibly sprained ankle. The new pediatrician was wonderful. She shook my hand. She shook my daughter’s hand. She even tried to shake my 6-year-old son’s hand, but he was spinning around on the revolving stool so fast she couldn’t make contact. She looked us all right in the eye when she talked to us. She didn’t address me as “Mom,” which I appreciated. And she listened respectfully as my children tried to explain how the injury occurred (short version: it had to do with using a sleeping bag as a soccer ball).
After explaining how what seems like a sprain in a child actually can be a fracture, she sent us off to get x-rays. I left the office feeling reassured, empowered, and hoping we’d get to see this new doctor again sometime.
Contrast this with my experience at the x-ray clinic. When we signed in, I discovered the records on our family were completely out of date. Despite having used the clinic in the last year, the computer records showed an old home address, a pediatrician who was no longer with our practice, and an address that was no longer valid for the practice. Moreover,the clinic had no fax number for our doctor, so the receptionist said he would fax the results to another doctor at another branch of the practice. The seeds of doubt were planted: I wasn’t confident the results would ever get to our lovely new pediatrician.
When we went back for the actual x-ray,the situation got worse. I asked my daughter if she wanted me to stay with her. The technician whirled around and said, “No. She’ll be fine.” Whoa! Wrong answer, because: a) it was rude (my daughter can speak for herself and the technician was clearly dismissing me); b) it was ignorant (I had information the technician did not, which is that my daughter gets very anxious during medical procedures); and c) it was unnecessary (the technician simply could have said, “I’m sorry, we prefer the parents to stay outside the room).
Since she didn’t say that, my maternal back was up, and I ignored the technician by double-checking my daughter’s preferences. She said she was ok. But as I sat in the waiting room, my doubt grew. Why, I thought to myself, didn’t I insist on going to the radiology department at our local children’s hospital, where the technicians are so much more skilled with kids (and families)? And if this technician is so inept at dealing with kids socially, will the x-rays be taken correctly? Is there someone here who can even interpret a pediatric x-ray correctly?
Upon getting home, I decided to straighten out at least the fax number issue on my own. So I called the imaging center — and spent 20 minutes dealing with a voice mail mazes and staff confusion before I found someone who could simply change the fax number on the work order. By the end of that mess, I was a very, very disgruntled client.