Friday, October 26, 2012

Complaining About a Nurse

A pet-peeve of mine: bad doctors or bad doctor staff. It truly drives me insane. When I was younger I would sit by and do nothing, but as I have gotten order I realize the EXTREME importance of being your own advocate. If you don't, then all sorts of problems can arise.

Yesterday I ran into an issue with a nurse at my new OB/GYN's office, that can best be explained by just including the letter I sent to what I hope is my doctor's email address (and compliant boards). Names have been removed to protect identities  (Let's be honest - mainly mine.)  Chime in on your thoughts.


Dear Dr. W,
You may remember me. I am a new patient that recently was locked in a bathroom on my first visit due to a mechanical problem with the door handle. I received your letter recently and I was extremely impressed that you took the time to hand write and send me apologies. In this day in age, that is not only rare, but extremely impressive. Thank you for taking the time to do so; this speaks volumes about you. The door was clearly not your offices fault and just one of those things that sometimes happens.

Unfortunately, I am writing to you today to discuss another issue. Namely your nurse M. W. and her extreme rudeness, as well as cruel words to me on the phone yesterday. Our phone conversation ended with me requesting that either you or someone else, anyone else, from your office call me to discuss my case. Not only was I in tears for a long time after our call, but I am concerned that she will either delay or not have someone else contact me from the office. I will give the details of the situation below.

On Friday I went to the ultrasound that you and I has spoken about previously in your office. The person that did my ultrasound was professional, pleasant, and caring. I'm not sure of her name, but she is an outstanding individual and an asset to XYZ. After my ultrasound, I asked her if there was a cyst on my right ovary. I specified the right ovary because I am familiar with pain that has shown to be related to it and I was having it. The ultrasound technician stated I did not have a cyst, but I did have some free-fluid. When I asked some more questions, she told me that the images would be sent to someone else and a report would be passed to my doctor, who would discuss the findings with me. Perfectly reasonable and professional, as I shouldn't expect her to make a diagnoses.

This week my cramping on my right side became slightly more intense, but as I have also developed the flu, I decided to patiently wait for the call from your office. By Thursday it had not come, so I put a call in myself. My call was returned a few hours later by whom I have since been told was M. W.. What happened over that call not only put me in shock, but others as well.

Ms. W told me that my ultrasound was perfectly normal and showed no problems. I asked about the free-fluid and stated I was concerned, because many years ago I had free fluid that eventually landed me in a 5 day hospital stay with a PID infection. During the period, it took me almost 2 months of dealing with pain to recover. Ms. W's first response was to get extremely curt with me and say the ultrasound technician had NO BUSINESS telling me that the free fluid was an infection and started going on a rant. I interrupted and explained that the technician had NOT said that and had only stated that there was free fluid, but the rest was from my own personal experience  She continued to rant and I again iterated that the technician in NO WAY, had said anything other than free fluid.

I then went to explain to Ms. W., that my husband and I have been going through IVF and we will be starting our last cycle soon. I explained that due to my age, this would be our last cycle, so it was EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, that anything, such as an infection, be taken care of now rather than have it possibly cause a problem with my cycle, or delay it, which is also a problem due to my age. I further explained that the pain in my pelvic region was continuing. Ms W. was combative at every step. While that is bad enough in itself, Ms. W. took it upon herself when given NEW facts regarding my case that should have been considered by my doctor, to diagnose me herself. And her diagnoses was that there was nothing OB/GYN related wrong with me. She stated that the free-fluid came from a cyst bursting. I'm not sure how one could tell if it is from a cyst bursting or possible other infection (without testing the fluid), but she simply didn't allow for such questions from me. She only wanted me off the phone and off her charts.

She told me to call my primary care physician, to which I explain I have just gotten all new doctors due to moving, and the earliest PCP appointment I could get with XYZ was over a month away (already scheduled). She then told me to go see my IVF clinic. This is not practical for me as 1.) My main clinic thus far has been in India, though I am returning to my American clinic 2.) Insurance will not cover these sort of things at an IVF clinic. She then told me to go to the ER if I was in pain. At this point I asked why I could not speak to the doctor or at least have the new information relayed to him. She said that NO doctor calls back his patients. While this may be the policy at XYZ, I can assure you that I've never had an issue with this with any other doctor. I gave her an example of an OB/GYN I had for 20+ years that always called me back when requested, but she didn't really seem to care.

I told Ms. W. that I wasn't trying to take it out on her, but that I didn't understand why she was trying to hem-haw and not let me get the patient care from what I felt was a OB/GYN issue. She dismissively told me that pelvic pain could be from many areas and that she felt it wasn't an OB/GYN issue. I may be wrong, but I really think that it is out of place for a nurse to be making these decisions without conferring with the doctor. Especially if I have introduced new information that the doctor was unaware of.

The pinnacle came on her final berate of me that I can only describe as the most callous and unprofessional interaction I have ever had with a doctor's nurse. She sarcastically said to me "Look. I'm sorry you can't get pregnant......" and I have very little recollection of what she said after that - I was in tears and shock. She doesn't even know my case to be saying if we can get pregnant or not and it is extremely cruel to interject this statement when it has no bearing on the issue at hand. Especially to someone currently going through IVF treatments. I'm not sure what else was said except that I finally interrupted her rant to say I needed to speak with the doctor or someone else from the office. That I could no longer speak to her. Her response was "I have no idea when the doctor can get back to you" to which I responded "Anyone. Have anyone call me back besides you. I need to speak with someone about my case, and I can not speak to you." After about an hour, I was able to collect myself and call back XYZ to find out the name of the nurse whom I had spoken with. The receptionist looked up my notes and said it was M. W..

At this point I have no idea if she even passed on my information to anyone else. I am horrified by her treatment of me, especially given that I am going through infertility. I would expect an OB/GYN's office to be the last place this sort of thing would occur. An OB/GYN staff should be the opposite of this and in my 25 years experience with OB/GYN offices, it always has been.

To recap:
1.) Ms W. took it upon herself to diagnose me without speaking to a doctor about new developments in my case
2.) She was combative and unnecessarily cruel
3.) I have very little confidence that my information was ever relayed to anyone else, much less my doctor. Thus I don't know what the next step for me to take with my care is and I sit in limbo wondering.

I have written very few letters of complaint in my life, but I felt that this was important enough to write one. These are never one time occurrences and nurses who speak to patients like this should not be in such a delicate field as OB/GYN. Please let me know if and when I can expect a call from your office to discuss my case and concerns. Thank you very much.


UPDATE: The office is part of a very large hospital and medical teaching school. My email has already created a stir and I received the nicest phone call from my doctor's office and an email from someone I don't know, but is with the organization. There will be an investigation into the matter and I'm hoping there might be phone records. While I certainly don't like to get people in trouble, I feel much better knowing my complaint is being dealt with quickly and that it's important. Besides my complaint  the person that called today is making it his personal duty to get answers to my medical questions ASAP (doctor is out today). He was really really nice and soooooooo much easier to have a normal conversation with.

UPDATE 2: Doctor called and not only was really nice, but alleviated my fears after lengthy discussion with me and pulling up all my records. He also made a funny comment about the nurse wasn't loved enough as a child as has no business being a nurse. Apparently this was not an isolated incident. 


  1. I'm so sorry to hear you experienced this, but I'm so please about your response and also about their response to your response. Good on ya! X

    1. I was SUPER-DUPER impressed by how the org responded to my complaint. It's funny, because writing it doesn't even convey how bad it was on the phone. Her tone and attitude were shocking.

  2. Wow...that's so messed up. I'm sorry it happened, and I hope that everything that transpired comes to light. Further, I hope that you either have a fantastic doctor who gives you special attention from here on out OR you find another medical option PRONTO!

    1. Thanks Allie. They were really great after I sent the email. I think it was just one bad apple in the bunch. It happens.

  3. Good for you to write the letter of complaint!! And, I am pleased to see the doctor actually responded and helped you through this. Onward and upward!

  4. I had a similar situation happen at my infertility clinic with a 3rd party nurse. It was absolutely awful. I also wrote a letter to my doctor. They responded very well, with the Head nurse calling to apologize profusely. It apparently wasn't an isolated incident because this gal no longer worked for them only a few short weeks after it happened.

    I'm so glad the staff responded so well and that the doctor seems to agree with you. He sounds like a very good doctor to have! Just get rid of the nurse!!


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