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Common Health Care Story: When Your Doctor Can Be Anyone

I recently went to the emergency room at my local hospital because I was experiencing severe flank pain. I thought it was my appendix, but instead I was diagnosed with kidney stones. That wasn’t the most unpleasant thing to occur to me on that very painful night.

I arrived at the emergency room at 9:30 PM and was discharged the next morning at 10:00 AM. During those nine-in-a-half hours I was attended by eight different doctors. I never received a status report from the same doctor twice. At first, I thought it was a shift change, but then that would be two to three doctors at most. Eight seemed like something was out of order.

Three days later, I was in the waiting room of the kidney stone specialist’s office waiting for my appointment with Dr. X, a female doctor. I am ushered into the examination room by the medical assistant who takes down my chief complaint and checks my vitals. A short while later there is a knock on the door, and in enter three people that look like doctors, but were all men.

They introduce themselves to me as Drs. A, B, and C. They tell me they will be attending to me because Dr. X is not available. I should expect anyone of them to provide my care through the process of passing the stone, but because the group is a clinic any doctor in the group can attend to me.

My pain was very high, and I could only rely on Tylenol which is ineffective for kidney stone pain because I am allergic to opioids. I made a mental note to investigate these experiences when I felt better.

Have you been finding it difficult to schedule a doctor’s appointment with your doctor? Have you gone to the doctor to see Dr. X but instead been seen by Dr. Y. Welcome to the world of clinic-based medical groups. A clinic group means that you will be treated by any doctor in the group. This style of medical practice is also common in an emergency rooms. Thus, to return to my own personal experiences that is why I had 12 doctors treat me for kidney stones, which have since passed.

As a patient, this type of practice makes no sense. It’s hard enough to articulate your symptoms and monitor health conditions without going through your entire medical history over and over again. It sure makes me feel like no one is listening. As a routine practice, ask the medical group if they have a clinic or some other setting.

Some medical groups like www.OneMedical.com, offer a membership price to join their practice. They claim that it will ensure prompt appointment scheduling, late hours, and even weekends – both Saturday and Sunday. While these too can be a clinic-based practice, some of the pricey ones allow you to lock in a doctor so to speak.

I don’t think this type of medical practice is going away. More and more people will experience clinic care now in the future.

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