When the people have spoken.

Dear Amy: For many months while dealing with health and mobility issues, I’ve noticed that my husband has had odd lapses of memory. Nothing about these incidents indicated potential harm of self or of others, but they were/are completely out of character, quite dissimilar in nature, and seem random.

We have been married for a long time and have been seeing a couple’s counselor regarding issues related to connecting with one another.

As my concern grew, I tried to discuss this with my physician, but she declined, saying she could only discuss my health issues — not his.

I also approached our counselor, but he said that discussing this with him would be a breach of the “couples” aspect, and not appropriate. This made sense to me.

I decided to contact my husband’s doctor.

Due to the delicate nature of the issue, I specifically said this has to be confidential, and the information cannot be from me.

At my husband’s next appointment, his doctor said, “Your wife is concerned about your …” and told him! When my husband came home, he told me about it.

I’m floored, feel betrayed, and do not yet know what the impact of this breach of confidentiality will be on our marriage/relationship.

Should I talk to my husband about this?

— Lost, Alone, Worried

Lost, Alone, Worried: I’m so sorry you are going through this.

Your husband’s physician should not have promised anonymity. Presumably your husband’s cognitive changes wouldn’t have surfaced during the course of a typical checkup. How else would the doctor have known enough about these changes to ask your husband about them, without someone else notifying him?

If your relationship with your husband were in a better place, you would go through this together — as rough patch that you would encounter and struggle through as a team.

If you weren’t feeling so defensive and anchored to your own feelings of betrayal, you would realize that the cat’s out of the bag, and now you can try to approach this as a supportive partner.

Yes, talk to your husband. His challenges might be a result of medications he is taking, or an undiagnosed issue that requires further investigation.

Now that your concerns are out in the open, I assume your counselor will help you to discuss it in a session, as a way to assist you in communicating about this vital issue, which of course affects both of you. (c) Ask Amy

My commentary isn’t going to be specifically which advice I’d give. Just many thoughts.

What that doctor did was scuzzy.

How else would the doctor have known […] without someone else notifying him?

Not true, Ask Amy. The doctor could’ve performed a cognition test and said it was for “routine purposes”. (Heck, I’d probably buy that.) But what the doctor did was scuzzy. Fortunately, when karma doesn’t come to the rescue, we have the next best thing.

Internet reviews.

Amen, am I right? Yeah? Yeah! Internet reviews! Let’s hear it for them!

Preach, Meg. 

I’ve had this happen to me. I was seeing a therapist when I lived in Georgia. I was becoming increasingly paranoid and schizophrenic at that time when I got a phone call from the employee assistance program.

“Hello, Ms. Kimball, your therapist only gave us a skeletal frame of information about your problems. Now, were you ever abused in the bathtub?”

Yeah. So… I swear, everything at that point in my life conspired to make me as paranoid as possible. I soundly told them off, but they were unapologetic. You can’t really argue with people who lack a basic foundation of morality. Their self-righteousness will always win the day. (And I think I’m self-righteous… but I have morals.)

Anyway, that was how I learned the hard way that all that crap about confidentiality isn’t true. It’s all a beautiful illusion. Now, this letter writer’s situation doesn’t apply to the confidentiality code because she wasn’t speaking to her doctor about her health issues. However, it was still scuzzy and unnecessary of the doctor to go down that path. A better doctor would’ve used more finesse.

It reminds me of when my sister stormed up to my room many years ago and said, “Mom wants to know your shoe size for a Christmas present. So, how huge are your enormous feet, anyway?”

“Uh, didn’t you just spoil the surprise?” I pointed out.

“Whatever. Mom told me to find your shoes and check their sizes in secret, but I don’t have time for that crap. Just tell me your shoe size so I can get on with my life.”

Hell, at least my evil sister was honest. She couldn’t be bothered to follow our mom’s instructions. I bet the doctor in today’s letter will never cop to that, but that’s exactly what happened. The doctor didn’t care enough. The doctor took the easy path of low or no morality. Disgusting.

This letter caught my attention because I’ve been dealing with an inability to find a urologist. All the local ones are connected to a huge conglomerate that has horrible–and I do mean horrible–reviews. Here are some highlights courtesy of Google:

Place is a joke. Doctors are rude and have an attitude with you. If I would have known this is the treatment I would receive I would have never went. Waist of time and now I’m out $300+ for a horrible experience.

And:

This is a money seeking operation. They have 5 front desk staff and a front office set up that looks like the state fair. Nowhere to sit, just a line to stand in.

Dr Fred Witten wasn’t mean or anything but I strongly believe he was using scare tactics to convince me to have an unecessary procedure!

He sat too close to me (especially in a pandemic, but even for personal comfort). He told me that there was most likely no problem because I am young [28-year-old female]. I told him that many in my family experience blood in urine with no issues arising.

He told me that no insurance provider would take me with this “preexisting condition” **unless I had it tested with 2 invasive procedures. Earning him big bucks off of my vulnerability.

I think its a load of bull. Scare tactics. Same as some dental offices and chiropractors. They scare you into spending more money than necessary.

In the end he told me NOTHING I didn’t already know. A waste of money.

And:

Terrible practice. I’m a PA-C myself. My Doctor was 45 minutes late to my 8AM appointment… had a CT scan ordered over two weeks ago, with no results. Had to call medical records just to read my own CT scan. My CT scan consisted of me waiting in the lobby with 30+ other people, with front desk receptionists yelling at patients like they were gathering cats, I was told I needed to move out of the doorway, although there was nowhere to sit, and I didn’t want to take an open seat for an elderly/immobile patient but was told “it’s better than standing in the doorway” by the lab technician. Felt like a number, not a person. Highly do not recommend this practice. Don’t even waste your time.

And:

Dr. Prendergast needs to stop practicing.

Without disclosing my medical issues, Dr. Prendergast told me to practice “holding it”, told me I did not experience any pain regardless that I was referred to him due to constant pain, and that I’m “too young” to have these problems. Without saying it directly, he inferred I was lying about my entire reason for being in his office and that what I was complaining about didn’t actually happen.

Ageist and sexist. Do not see this pathetic excuse for a doctor.

And:

Save yourself the time and money and just don’t go here. ESPECIALLY don’t see Dr. Watkins. He should not be practicing anymore, sent me to get an X-ray done after NOT EVEN 5 minutes of talking or gathering info even though I had just gotten a CT scan the day before. Then brushes off my complaints of kidney stone pain and getting sick and then tells me to schedule a follow up appointment in 6 months?? (I’m still having kidney stone issues too). This happened Back in April 2020 and they have not reached out to me regarding anything but sent my bill to COLLECTIONS??

And:

Dr. Watkins has some of the worst bedside manner I’ve ever encountered. I had a cystoscope done by him, which leaves you VERY exposed. When him and the nurse came into the room, he opened the curtain before she could close the door, allowing anyone who happened to be in the hallway able to see my bare lower half. He then did the same when he left the room, leaving his nurse behind to apologize for him, as if this happens all the time. During the procedure you’re supposed to be “numbed”, but I still felt a lot of discomfort. When I asked him if I should be feeling that much, he just said, “well yeah, you’re going to feel something”. No regard for how I felt, never asked if I was okay. Afterward, he told me I only had 2 options in my case, stay on antibiotics for 6 months or “do nothing”. He had no sympathy for my situation and acted as if he couldn’t care less about my pain. He wouldn’t even give consideration to any other kind of treatment and barely seemed to hear what I was telling him. I had to make suggestions to him based on the research I did myself. He didn’t suggest anything at all for my pain. He seemed as though he just checked out and didn’t want to discuss anything. He did nothing for me and I don’t plan on returning to him. They have plenty of doctors to choose from, don’t choose Dr. Watkins.

And:

After years of suffering through a cyst issue, I finally got up the nerve to look into my medical options. The doctor accused me of taking steroids and wouldn’t hear my concerns any further. I was clearly offended by this, but the doctor shuffled out of the room and told me to stop doing steroids, which I’ve never done in my entire life. I still suffer through constant pain and lack of confidence to this day. Look literally anywhere else.

And:

First Urology performed a procedure on my husband. He almost died. When they released him to go home from their surgicenter he was not yet able to stand up and felt like he was burning up from a fever and groggy. They lifted him out of the wheelchair to place him in the car yet he could not even speak. I objected stating how could you release someone this way? Everyone there said that was the way it was supposed to be. They did not give us the needed supplies for home but we did not notice this until we arrived home. Turns out he had septic shock from the surgery. The MD and nurses acted like it was a joke. Some of the staff members appeared to be either drunk or on drugs. Low quality facility with poor, low quality sterilization practices. He is still recovering slowly. This is a mass production line facility. The girls at the front desk are rude and unprofessional. The doctors do not care–they are there to make a buck and that is all. They do put on a good show. They also are very quick to remove the scores of negative comments in these reviews. For any procedures GO OUT OF STATE! After to speaking to many others, his outcome was typical of this facility.

This is who my ER doctor referred me to, and every local urologist is with the conglomerate except for a few pediatric urologists. I’m praying I pass this kidney stone without complications and don’t need follow-up care. The only urologist I could find who I’d feel okay with is two hours away.

Sorry this has been such a lengthy post. I suspect everyone’s experienced medical incompetence at one time or another.

I always find it therapeutic to leave a horrid review, but in this instance, I’m taking in everyone else’s reviews and trying to protect myself. Ugh.

9 thoughts on “When the people have spoken.

  1. The letter writer tried to go behind her husband’s back to raise her concerns about him with her doctor, couple’s therapist, and then his doctor. I’m not surprised it came back to bite her in the butt. Husband’s doctor’s only duty is to husband, not to support wifey going behind his back because she’s too scared to bring the issue up in front of him. There’s zero basis for confidentiality between his doctor and wifey unless her safety would be in jeopardy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s one way of looking at it, but I feel bad like she felt as if she had no options. I don’t think she knew what else to do!! 😮 It’s probably not a relationship dynamic I’d wind up with, being that I’m more assertive(?) or proactive, actually, but I got the sense that she felt unable to bring it up with him and was trying to do the right thing. But you make a good point!! I do agree that there was no promise nor guarantee of confidentiality here!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, that would be different!! If the intentions are to cause problems for someone or to be a buttinsky, that would be so wrong. I think this letter writer just didn’t know how to deal with the situation. But if Ellen were to do that to me, there would be repercussions, for sure!! I’d ***guess*** that Dr. Phlegm would shoot her down for being nosy and self-serving.

        Like

  2. I get where you are coming from re medical confidentiality but in this case even if they are in couples counselling if she’s worried about her husbands health why didn’t she speak to him first, ask if he was ok or had noticed anything? The lengths she went to to speak to other people about it before him or his doctor would’ve peed me off big time if I was in that situation. Also, the hubby’s doctor has no responsibility to the wife it’s with his patient, yes he could’ve been more tactful but maybe he’d asked some questions or offered a test and hubby had said no need so he had to bring it up. It’s never black and white.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really good insight! I’m wondering too now why the communication is so halted between this married couple. It seems odd. Maybe the cognitive impairments are downright scary? Or maybe they have weak communication in general? At any rate, I see what you mean!! If I were the husband, the first words out of my mouth would be, “Why didn’t you mention it to me?!”

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, you hear me!! 😀 I’ve decided to definitely not see them. I don’t want to go to the doctor at all and am dragging my feet (my kidneys?), but it’s like, well, the kidney stone might still be in there. I did find one better organization in Louisville, I think. I’d have to maneuver the one-way streets of downtown, which is stressful and I get lost, but looking at the other options, it’s a no-brainer!! Gee!! Scary urology!! 😮

      Liked by 1 person

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