At a restaurant, you can always find a way to complain about poor service.
At Massachusetts General Hospital it's not so easy as ketchup graffiti.
After I realized I could not trust Nurse Lisa to care for me, I felt it was only proper to notify the management. MGH, like many modern bureaucracy's, has precluded the possibility of lodging complaints directly to a nurse's floor or department with the automated phone tree. There is not a complaint dept on the menu.
My problem was not just that I needed to complain about an unacceptable comment from an employee that seemed high; I needed another nurse, STAT.
I left voice mails in every box, but no one responded. The patient advocate department at the hospital takes complaints and issues confirmation numbers, like in "Last Exit To Eden". They could log my complaint, but I would still be reporting to Nurse Lisa.
I informed my Doctor on my next visit that she would no longer be my nurse. He said she was the only nurse on the floor and that I was stuck with her. I requested a referral to another rheumatologist, this got his attention. He could not hide his dismay at the way I had been treated. He offered to have her apologize to me, I said that would only be acceptable in writing, he withdrew the offer of an apology and changed his tactic.
"You're willing to leave my practice over this?" Like a jilted lover "But you've done so well here!"
It was this simple: "I'm never going to be in the same room with her again, and if she enters the room I'm call 911"
With much bullshit he responded "My Nurse is a highly educated and dedicated professional"
"Does you wife know?" I trapped.
"Know what?" awestruck.
"That you think Hootie MacBoobity is a Highly educated professional? I mean, can you say that in public?"
"Why are you like this?" he whined.
I tore into the serious flaws of The Yawkey Center in general and his staff in particular. It was going to be my way, or the referral to another Doctor and an exit interview with his supervisor. I didn't have any idea who that supervisor might be, but everyone has one, so this threat usually sounds works.
The good Doctor asked me for 90 days to find a solution, out of respect for his unique diagnostic abilities I agreed.
"But this is it" I warned "after this, we're even"
On my next few visits, I never saw the nurse who had denigrated my poverty, I saw only the Doctor. This was some of the best care I ever received, and at the most critical time. It's funny how things work out.
At the end of the 90 days he told me he was moving his practice, and thanked me for helping him make the decision to leave The Yawkey Center.
I was relieved we could part friends, 'cause I was ready to kick his career in the nuts.