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So, I came across this astounding Yelp page for a family medicine clinic in Riverdale, NY, proving that sometimes, you just can’t win in my line of work.

I don’t work there but do know some of the staff. They are drilled to be extremely professional to the point of being colorless automatons, which should be kept in mind with some of these reviews.

“Deserves no stars… My mom called on Friday because her left eye was super red to the point where it looked like something popped… called them to make sure that they accept our insurance and have the appropriate doctor who can take a look at her eye and diagnose what is going on… After  asking a series of questions over the phone, Dwell Family Doctors confirmed saying that they have an eye doctor who can take a look at my mom’s eye on Saturday…

“After filling out necessary paperwork, before we even meet the doctor, they ask us to pay the co-pay. I found that to be a bit unprofessional and odd but regardless we paid the co-pay before we met the doctor… We wait about 5-10 minutes and the DO finally comes in.”

The visit immediately goes negative over the simple issue of the co-pay, which is a standard requirement of most insurance plans, and one that the insurance carriers actually require medical providers collect. Yet, this person is already primed for a negative encounter over something she would still have to pay at literally any other clinic. And she had to wait 5-10 minutes? Heavens to Betsy, the outrage! The Department of Health should shut them down at once!

“He then asks “what brings you here today?” So my mom explains her condition in regards to her left eye, and the only advice he’s able to give is “you probably need to see an eye specialist”. At that point I’m baffled by his response because the whole reason why we stopped by was because of her EYE and we were told specifically that an eye specialist would be able to check her condition to make sure everything is okay. They gave us false information from the beginning saying that a specialist would be able to diagnose her symptom and when we get there, we’re told that there is no optometrist available. We paid the copay to hear from this place that she needs to see an eye doctor. So ridiculous.”

speak to manager haircutShe was told a doctor could look at her mother’s eye, and chose to interpret this as an eye doctor would be on site. Hardly any urgent care has subspecialists on site, because how is that even feasible economically? Why would they pay an ophthalmologist to sit around all day for the, perhaps, 1 patient at most with an eye problem more severe than simple pinkeye? If her mom were having a bad migraine, would she have expected a neurologist to be on site too? A cardiologist for chest pain? Pulmonologist? Interventional radiologist, perhaps?


Same review: “After expressing my frustration , the DO goes to his office and brings me a medical textbook and tells me to read it. Does he really think we went all the way there to read a textbook instead of getting proper medical treatment? He expects a book to resolve all issues. Is he serious?  What good is reading a textbook going to do for my mom’s eye?”

It’s clear by this point the visit has become entirely hostile, so the poor DO has probably pulled a reference as some sort of support against the daughter’s verbally abusive barrage. But the truth is: a primary or urgent-care doctor simply will not have the fancy and expensive eye equipment that only an ophthalmologist would have to diagnose advanced eye problems.

There was literally no way this clinic could have ducked this 1-star review. The daughter went in with completely unreasonable and irrational expectations and already started to become hostile over the routine matter of the co-pay… for an issue the daughter was clearly comfortable enough with to let sit overnight as opposed to going to the ER. And flips out to find that the clinic does not have a friggin’ ophthalmologist on site — on a weekend, no less.

This brings to mind another charmer I saw a few years ago. Came in complaining of chest pain x2 years, vague, unable to really specify beyond that in terms of pain quality, triggers, relieving factors, whatever. He says he got all kinds of workup from several different cardiologists, echocardiograms, nuclear stress tests, MRIs, MRAs, you name it. Everything came back negative. He came in to my simple clinic with no specialized hardware available demanding that I tell him what was wrong with his chest right then and there. After stating it wouldn’t be so simple, yep, he completely flipped out and served me a 1-star review. He even stated he threw out the cardiology referral I had given him because he felt I was useless. Out of spite!

Sometimes in medicine, you are Holland and Belgium circa 1940. Sometimes, there is literally nothing you can do to stave off the unprovoked aggression.

Returning to that Yelp page for another review:

“My daughter has been to this place twice and has been given the wrong medication for her condition. This office was convenient for her because she lives down the street. She was diagnosed with an ear infection but she was given EYE drops from the person who saw her (who is not even a doctor) someone should  be looking over every prescription that is given to patients at this facility by anyone who is not an MD.”

This actually happens all the time. I prescribe antibiotic ear drops; get the call from the pharmacy that they’re completely out, so they’ll have to sub in the eye drops instead.

Guess what? They are the exact same medication. In drop form. The eye drop one might be more benign for your far more sensitive eyes but they do the same damn thing. Oh well — because the bottle said “ophthalmic” and not “otic,” the patient’s mother literally wants the clinic shut down. (The clueless doctor she saw the next day didn’t exactly help matters, either, tbf.)

Also, given the shortage of MDs, especially since competent but non-board-certified MDs are all but prohibited from practicing, the gap has to be filled somehow. Don’t like PAs or NPs? Too bad. If you refuse to wait until the doctor is in, get used to seeing them.

“Went to Dwell and after waiting for an hour they told me that couldn’t verify my insurance. Woman at the front desk was incredibly rude claiming she was bending over backwards to help me while swearing at me. Don’t waste your time, you get better service at McDonald’s.”

If you really think she had to wait an entire hour while the staff member tried her best to accommodate her and her likely garbage insurance plan, I got a Nigerian prince on the other line for ya. The “swearing at me” bit in a clinic with multiple people around and with likely video surveillance systems proves that online reviews are like the presidency — lying simply has zero consequences.

“I went there today because I had a bad cough and sore throat.  The staff at the desk were polite and thorough.  The doctor was good.  He examined me and explained everything.  I was pleasantly surprised.  I would go back if I couldn’t get an appointment with my primary MD.”

What’s so wrong about this one? Nothing, except they then proceeded to give the clinic 3 stars out of 5. “Staff was great! Doctor was good! Explained everything! Pleasantly surprised! 3 stars, mediocre at best!” What on earth could she have wanted, an erotic massage thrown in gratis? And yes, 3 stars is almost as bad as 1. Would you buy a printer off of Amazon if it were anything less than 4 stars?

Walked in to an empty waiting room with what I suspected was a sinus infection: coughing, low fever, head pressure. Just as I’m signing in, a woman comes storming out of the back saying, “I will not see him, he’s an idiot! Don’t charge my insurance because he doesn’t know what he’s doing! He doesn’t act professional or dress professional!” So now the 4 (count em FOUR) people at the front desk all turn to her with open mouths and sit there staring and do nothing. I say to the woman directly in front of me, “can you help me and let someone else take care of this? There are 4 of you.” She comes back and says, “Excuse me, we , are taking care of this now, then we’ll talk to you.” Really rude and terrible attitude.

Ah yes, the 1-star by association. Didn’t even wait to see the provider herself — after all, if the raving lunatic says they suck, then what more does she need? And, yes, how dare the staff be distracted by the screaming crazy person in the lobby? “Really rude,” indeed!

This is all a significant problem in medicine, especially as these people are far more likely to file frivolous malpractice lawsuits. But I should make clear that these people are the exceptions. The vast majority of patients just wanted to be seen and have reasonable expectations for a busy primary- or urgent-care clinic. Being a health care provider isn’t about completely avoiding the above outcomes, as that is literally impossible. Being a health care provider is about rolling with the punches and not letting such people color your attitude towards the 99% of your patients who are not like this.

And if that takes authoring a long, online tirade to let off steam, so be it.