Why Do A Background Check On A Doctor

What the fu*^?!!!

I had to have dermatological surgery last week. It's okay, just another mole gone rogue. (My mole background). I drove to the hospital, which was 30 minutes away. When this particular surgeon, that was going to cut me open, was referred to me by my (new) dermatologist, I didn't question the recommendation. And come to think of it, I didn't do much of a background check on my new dermatologist either, because she was in my insurance network. Read on to find out why I will soon regret this.

SIDE NOTE: I did look her up (after the fact) and she'd only been practicing for 5 years. To me, that's a newbie doctor, who probably doesn't even own a white lab coat, or a stethoscope. Had I known, I never would've gone to her. I prefer my doctors to be middle aged, and Jewish, with degrees from Ivy League medical schools, and residencies at prestigious hospitals with names that I can pronounce.

I arrived at the hospital early and pulled into the parking lot. I couldn't remember what building my surgery was in, so I called the office. I got a recorded message, assuring me that someone would be on the line soon, and I believed the voice on the other end. I'm trusting in that way.

After five minutes of advertisements for laser hair removal and Rosacea treatments, I heard, "We're sorry that we were unable to answer your call, please leave your name and number..." Blah, blah, blah. I hung up and called back. I thought they were probably having a brief phone jam. I got the answering machine again.

I decided to call their other office, and the same thing happened. On my third try, I left a message because I was starting to crawl out of my freckled skin. It had been twenty minutes of redials, and acne, warts and psoriasis warnings. I was supposed to be in surgery in 15 minutes. My message wasn't pretty. In fact it was curt, and definitely has the tone of a person who was pissed off. I felt abandoned, uncared for, as if the world was plotting against me. Or at least everyone at Family Dermatology offices! Why oh why wasn't anyone answering the phone?!

I parked the car and walked into the first building that I saw. I found an information desk, and a real person. I wanted to give her a hug. She pointed me in the right direction, and I took an elevator to the second floor. I found the surgeon's office. That's when pissed off took on a whole new meaning.

I walked in. It wasn't just an empty waiting room, devoid of patients. There wasn't anyone behind the reception desk either. It felt eerily quiet and sterile. Isn't this how most slasher films begin?

I yelled out, "Hello. Hello?" Cue uncomfortable silence. I saw a hallway leading to the back of the office, so I started walking. My nerves were desperately close to short circuiting. I wasn't exactly thrilled and delighted about getting cut open in the first place and Doctor Ghost Town was only making it worse.

HELLO? I'm here to get some cells removed!


When I reached the back of the office, there was another deserted reception desk, and several empty exam rooms. I was going to friggin' scream or throw something at someone's head. Now if I could only find a head.

And then, almost like a battle cry, U2's, Sunday, Bloody Sunday started playing from behind the only closed door in the whole deserted joint.

In a matter of seconds, a smattering of scenarios raced through my mind. Firstly, great song! (I saw it live in 1987, on their Joshua Tree tour, at Madison Square Garden, with my then boyfriend.) Kick ass concert. And then, what the hell is going on? Is somebody having surgery in there, and the doctor has a twisted sense of humor? I convinced myself that there was inappropriate, and perhaps, non-consenting shenanigans going on and I was about to interrupt. And I don't want to interrupt. Nor do I want to see what's behind door number one, if something icky is going down. Please don't let this be a scene out of an episode of Dateline or some Movie of the Week. 

I knocked. A terse and bothered, "What?" came back at me. I didn't respond (I think I was afraid) so instead, I froze until the door slowly opened a crack and a woman's head peered out. Here's the head I could throw a stapler at. I couldn't see inside the room nor could I see if anyone else was in the room, or if this woman was naked. What if she and the (female) surgeon were getting it on?

I snapped out of my fantasy long enough to answer, "I'm a patient." I thought that this would snap her out of whatever the hell she was doing and, oh, I don't know, act like she cared that there was a patient in the office who might need some help.

Nope, instead, she said, "Oh, the nurse will up front in a few." And with that she closed the door. If the nurse is coming back, then who the fuck was she? Oh, my god, she wasn't the doctor, was she? I calmly walked back down the hallway, out of the office, down the elevator, into the parking lot, and into my car and drove to safety.

Was this a commentary on our healthcare system? Bad manners? My failure to do my due diligence? A little while later, I received a call from the main office, not the office I was just at. I told the receptionist the whole story, and she could not have cared less. All she could offer was, "Do you want to go back now?" Was she snorting bath salts?

No, I didn't want to go back! I asked her why no one picked up the phone in either office. She told me that they don't answer the phones when they're at lunch. I was seething at her stupidity, the office's stupid ass policy, and stupidity in general. "So you don't have an answering service, with live people answering calls from patients?" "No." I couldn't help myself. "Wow, it's a good thing that you never get any emergencies otherwise someone could drop dead because you're having a sandwich."

When the actual surgical office called me, I was already home, and suited up for a much needed work out. There weren't any apologies, only two questions. "Do you want to reschedule your incision." "NO." And, "So you'll go somewhere else?" I was practically laughing at this point. "Yeah, I think so." She said okay and hung up.

Was I just in a Twilight Zone episode?

While writing this over the weekend, I called the office to get the recorded message down verbatim. A live person, from an answering service, picked up. Sure, because Saturday afternoon is when dermatological offices are bombarded with skin emergencies.

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