AIBU re GP staff? And what to do?

(26 Posts)
LeoandBoosmum Wed 03-Jun-15 14:55:22

I'm not well and am unable to work for this reason.
I have a great GP who is very supportive and understanding of my condition but she is based at one building (there are two). On this occasion I need to go to the other doctor's (minor proc) where I saw another doctor who was quite snippy (I tend not to focus well and I think she thought I was being a bit rude).
Anyhow, I was put in the book and told I'd be contacted next time clinic ran to have my little proc done (3 weeks from then).
Six weeks passed and I'd heard nothing so called them. I spoke to a lady from reception who said she'd be in touch as soon as that clinic was running and I could be fitted in.
Now, I get very anxious about answering the phone, so without going into why, I asked if she got no answer if she could leave a message and I would call them. The receptionist said, 'oh, cos you're working?' It was embarrassing to say no. I was caught off guard and just mumbled no, and didn't, anyway, want to go into details of not wanting to/ or being able to get to the phone at times for medical reasons (my mum is not always home due to work etc so not always available to pick up and even when she is she often lets the phone run to answer machine if she doesn't recognise the number...lots of cold callers!).
I very rarely get out but am at a friend's today. The same receptionist rang today, my mum answered and said I was out and would be back later on, and the receptionist asked where I had gone. That bluntly. My mum was pretty thrown and explained I was at a friend's and wouldn't be long. Mum let me know and I called the doc's from my friend's to accept heappt. Thankfully, I gota diff rec'st and I didn't mention anything.

I know this receptionist has not been there as long as the others and maybe it's ignorance, but I suffer severe anxiety at times as part of my condition and think her questions were inappropriate and intrusive. Why would she need to ask these questions? Not even, will she be long? No, Where has she gone? Totally out of order, I think.
I see my usual doctor (other building) fairly often but I think this rec'st is based at both GPs. I know rec'sts can look at your notes and I have a lot on the system about my illness and my anxiety/ depression, and I am not comfortable she would not read my notes (I know they can) if she is happy to ask such invasive questions.
Maybe I pushed the 'leave a message if you get no answer' a bit hard or something and she's just very nosy...but I don't like it. I don't really want to get into my medical condition (anxiety and illness preventing answering the phone with anyone but my GP).
My usual (great) GP is a Practice partner so I'm wondering whether to raise my concerns with her at my next appointment (I'm due to see her anyway re a medication change) BUT I really don't want the doctor's receptionist to know it was me, which, of course, she will, even if my doctor speaks generally to the receptionists about appropriate behaviour.
When I spoke with the receptionist she was otherwise nice and my mum (who she spoke to earlier) said the same so I wouldn't want toget her into trouble or antagonise her.
I don't think IABU but don't know what to do? Thanks

TedAndLola Wed 03-Jun-15 14:57:45

Very odd question if that's exactly how she phrased it but I don't think it's complaint worthy, and I doubt they would do anything if you bought it up. I would try to forget about it as a little oddity and assumed she meant to ask when you would be back.

Hope all goes well with the procedure.

ilovesooty Wed 03-Jun-15 15:00:35

I honestly don't think the receptionist has time to sit around reading irrelevant patient notes even if she wanted to. In any case you access information on a need to know basis only. Misuse of the system lays you open to disciplinary action.

LeoandBoosmum Wed 03-Jun-15 15:04:33

Thanks TedAndLola,

I don't know what this woman looks like and I don't recognise her voice, but it occurred to me that perhaps she knows me or we know some one in common somehow and is being nosy for that reason? It's very odd to ask if I'm working one one occasion and then to ask my mum where I've gone on another.
I hate getting into my medical condition and the restrictions it puts on me so I find fending off such questions very stressful. I am also concerned that if she doesn't know where her professional boundaries are she'll continue to ask me and others intrusive questions, and/ or look at patients' notes inappopriately.

VelvetRose Wed 03-Jun-15 15:06:05

I think you've raised an important point here OP that lots of people will be able to relate to. One of the most difficult thing about being ill can be negotiating medial appointments. Some people you come across are lovely, some are not and when you don't feel empowered it can be really upsetting.

That said I really would just let this go. I totally understand why this makes you feel unhappy but I think you might just need to accept that some people are a bit grumpy/insensitive/odd! It's not great but it's a fact of life. You have my sympathies though and I hope your procedure goes well.

VelvetRose Wed 03-Jun-15 15:06:40

medical not medial.

TheoriginalLEM Wed 03-Jun-15 15:06:47

I totally understand, we don't have a landline anymore due to my anxiety re answering the phone, if people need to call me they can call my mobile and leave a message. I don't give my number to many people.

It does sound like the receptionist worded it incorrectly, as in, where has she gone meaning will you be long. She should have simply left a message for you to call back. She also should not have entered into any further details with your mum. Saying that, i agree with ted and lola that it isn't complaint worthy and as an anxiety sufferer myself i think itsprobably your anxiety that has made this more upsetting for you.

The receptionists at my practice are pretty good and there is a note on my file that i have to be seen reasonably quickly if i need support for my mental health but they don't ask any questions, and neither should they.

I hope you manage to get things sorted out. I'd let this go if i were you as it is causing you more anxiety than it needs to (channeling my cbt therapist there!) flowers

Theycallmemellowjello Wed 03-Jun-15 15:07:57

I don't think the first question - 'because you're working?' - was intrusive. Asking whether someone is in work is not normally considered private and I'd presume she was asking so that she could see if she could call you at a time outside your working hours - ie she was trying to be helpful. The second question - 'where's she gone?' - is odd. I wouldn't say 'invasive' or 'totally out of order' though, personally. But imo it would be a bit off to make a complaint about it. I'd leave it and only mention anything if she asks you another odd question - you could say 'sorry, that question makes me uncomfortable' or something like that. I mean, if she persists in asking loads of personal questions then I would complain, but otherwise I think it would be mean to address it with her boss before giving her a chance to address it herself.

hmc Wed 03-Jun-15 15:11:52

I think that your severe anxiety is making you blow this way out of proportion.

LeoandBoosmum Wed 03-Jun-15 15:14:52

Thanks, Velvet. I'm already a bit anxious about going out (always accompanied due to condition and anxiety) when I am having a better day (I have a not very well understood, fluctuating condition but my doc has advised I should get out when I am able to) so I suppose the GP's receptionist asking such invasive questions doesn't really help me. It made me feel like she was checking up on me. I think I am just a bit paranoid (doctor knows this is part of my condition, the receptionist doesn't, so I suppose I'm saying that receptionists don't know who they're talking to, or what they're suffering with so should tread more sensitively and carefully).

MrsCs Wed 03-Jun-15 15:16:51

Has it occurred to you that the receptionist might have social anxiety/feels a bit awkward herself and that a complaint might make her feel worse? Nothing she has said sounds malicious.

hmc Wed 03-Jun-15 15:22:00

"I think I am just a bit paranoid (doctor knows this is part of my condition, the receptionist doesn't, so I suppose I'm saying that receptionists don't know who they're talking to, or what they're suffering with so should tread more sensitively and carefully)."

That's an interesting one LeoandBoosmum - this is a genuine question so please bear with me. How much of your condition is responsive to self help? Wouldn't it be more helpful (and empowering?) for you to recognise your paranoia and try to rationalise it rather than to expect the receptionist to tread very carefully (in ways that most of us wouldn't require)? I don't wish to offend by asking this question so apologies if this sounds critical - it is a genuine question

LeoandBoosmum Wed 03-Jun-15 15:23:06

TheOriginalLem and HMC: I think you are right. My anxiety is up in the stratosphere somewhere. My friend said that I misinterpret my reality (something like that) and it's part of my condition.
I suppose it's because my medical condition is not well understood and I think anxiety is also commonly misunderstood. I am too anxious to explain to my receptionist that my anxiety often prevents me answering the phone... Ironic, eh? Sometimes I know if I answer the phone I won't make much sense so avoid etc. Anyhow, yes, I'll just let it go unless she says something inappropriate again in the near future (though I wouldn't want to get her into trouble). Oh to be well, working and calm!
Thanks everyone.

LeoandBoosmum Wed 03-Jun-15 15:25:52

MrsCs, maybe but it doesn't seem so. The time I spoke with her she came across as fairly loudish, very chatty and talking ten to the dozen. More likely she is just a bit nosy, I thnk.

HellKitty Wed 03-Jun-15 15:34:28

Maybe, 'where has she gone?' Really was, 'will she be long?' And your mum misheard?

I wouldn't get the receptionist into trouble, she was probably just trying to be friendly. When I was in customer services I'd ask stupidly random things just to chat. I couldn't even tell you what I said or to who so I really don't think she'd remember you. Would it be worth asking the doc to put a note on your info files asking for messages always to be left as you can't always get to the phone in time? Covers everything but doesn't go into detail.

LeoandBoosmum Wed 03-Jun-15 15:36:34

HMC: re
That's an interesting one LeoandBoosmum - this is a genuine question so please bear with me. How much of your condition is responsive to self help? Wouldn't it be more helpful (and empowering?) for you to recognise your paranoia and try to rationalise it rather than to expect the receptionist to tread very carefully (in ways that most of us wouldn't require)? I don't wish to offend by asking this question so apologies if this sounds critical - it is a genuine question.

My condition is complex. It's physical but my anxiety, paranoia and depression has escalated in recent years (partly due to my physical illness but I think it has become an issue in and of itself too). I'm not sure what I can do (doc has given meds to help anxiety and they do help a little). As I said, my best friend tells me I often 'misinterpret reality' (or something close to that) and blow things out of proportion, so I am probably making more of the doctor's questions than a person normally would. Saying that, I do think receptionists should give special thought to what they are saying/ asking because patients suffer all kinds of things. So, I agree, HMC, that I'm probably being more concerned than the average person, but I still think she shouldn't have asked (where I'd gone, especially).
I'm not sure what I can do to address my anxiety... Doc wants to get me off annxiety meds and onto anti-depressants as she thinks it will help physical symptoms a bit too... I don't know what to do as I'm scared to let anti-anx meds go (can't have both).

LeoandBoosmum Wed 03-Jun-15 15:38:49

HellKitty, That's a great idea. Thank you. I'll ask the doc that when I go in (but won't mention receptionist..really wouldn't want her to get into trouble).

No, the rec def asked where I'd gone. My mum knows I suffer with anxiety and she'd relay accurately to me.

LeoandBoosmum Wed 03-Jun-15 15:40:31

Thank you, everyone, btw. It's pretty hard to get into my anxiety with others so I appreciate everyone being kind and not just telling me IABU.

HellKitty Wed 03-Jun-15 16:00:42

Aww that's good. Just concentrate on getting well smile

WhatALoadOfOldBollocks Wed 03-Jun-15 16:10:20

If a receptionist called and was told I wasn't in I would not expect them to ask where I was or make any comment about where I might behmm. None of their business. Just leave a message or ask if there's an alternate number I could be reached on.

TheoriginalLEM Wed 03-Jun-15 16:15:05

If you dont mind me asking, what meds are you taking just now for the anxiety? I have been on citalopram (and now escitalopram) for some years, it is used to treat depression and anxiety. I know it is awkward with your physical condition as well (although i consider anxisety to be physical, what are our brains/minds if not physical?) because of drug interactions but maybe it would be worth considereing a SSRI (type of med i am on) if you are able to have them. I think i will most likely be on them forever, im ok with that and im getting better after some counselling (again it took me a while to find the right therapist).

NRomanoff Wed 03-Jun-15 16:22:36

I wouldn't say intrusive. I would say she is phrasing it badly. I think the 'oh are you at work?' would have probably been followed up with 'we can call you there if you prefer?'

and the 'where is she?' will probably meant to have been an enquiry as to how long you will be so she could get the appointment.

As you know, not everyone is good on a phone and some people find phrasing things very difficult to get spot on. I used to work in a call centre and used to word things badly sometimes.

I do think you anxiety may be playing a part in this. Yes, receptionists should be better on the phone, but we all make mistakes or mis speak.

LeoandBoosmum Wed 03-Jun-15 16:35:58

WhatALoad: that's what I thought, though she probably meant nothing by it.

TheOrignalLEM: Thanks for replying. I am taking a benzo. You make a good point re brains = physical...I hadn't thought of it that way.
The doc wants to move me off my benzo (it's quite a low dose but I've been on it a while) and put me on Sertraline, but I'm reluctant cos the benzo helps a little when the anxiety is awful.
She won't let me have both but would gradually get me off benzo and onto Sertraline. I have avoided anti-d's in the past and don't know much about the different types. My doc knows I want to avoid weight gain (I put on 3 and a half stone when my dad died and due to physical limitations it took a very strict diet and 4 years to shift, also made my condition worse due to extra weight) so I need an anti-d that won't pile on the weight.
I'm not sure why my doc suggested Sertraline above others - don't know if it's an SSRI as you said (don't know what that is tbh).
Would I be better to inquire about the med you're on (does it cause weight gain).
I'm also a bit reluctant to make the move to an anti-d because I can get very depressed, and sometimes get very dark thoughts. I don't want to mention such dark thoughts to my GP in case she takes my benzo off me or won't let me have an anti-d.
I haven't considered counselling (my health fluctuates so much I can't always keep appointments). I've never really found 'talking about things' that helpful but maybe I should at least have a chat with my doc about the best way forward. Thanks again, it was lovely of you to take the time to help.

LeoandBoosmum Wed 03-Jun-15 16:41:16

NRomanoff...you're probably right, thanks.

TheOriginalLEM: Meant to add that I'm glad things are improving for you. flowers

TheoriginalLEM Wed 03-Jun-15 16:57:01

Sertraline is an SSRI (ive been on the mental health boards on here a while now and have a science background) which is in the same family as citalopram. It works on the seretonin system in the brain and they work really well for anxiety, just maybe not in the same way as benzo would, less sedating i would imagine. I think doctors have personal preferences for what they tend to prescribe it may just be that. Weight gain? I have gained weight but i also have a mirena coil which is well known for weight gain so i can't really say. People on here have found sertraline really affective and i know a few people in RL who take it and it works for them.

The only thing i would say is do tell your doctor about the dark thoughts, this is really important and i don;t want to worry you unduly but sometimes when you first start taking SSRI meds they can (rarely) make you have such thouhts - it happened to me when i first started taking citalopram the second time around although to be fair i was quite unwell. The Dr wont stop you from having them but its important to monitor these thoughts and he can actually prescribe you something when you first start taking them - i was given diazepam which really helped, they wont let you have that long term though as its addictive and i found after a week i didn't need it and it actually made me feel miserable so it was easy enough to stop.

Counselling suits some people and not others - I had serveral counsellors that whilst very nice, were as effective as a chocolate tea pot. The last counsellor i had did CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and i had lots of not very nice names for him because he was very blunt and not all nicey nicey but he was very effective and that is what i needed. He didn't have all the answers but he gave me strategies to take control of my thoughts rather than my thoughts controlling me.

Sorry, this is turning into a bit of an essay - have a chat with your Dr but dont be afraid to talk about your thoughts, i was given a number to call if i didn't feel safe and some additional meds to help with the anxiety, nothing more than that.

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