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My (ex) doctor gossips about me?


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I had a family doctor I went to twice in the past when I was a freshman in college. I dealt with an ED at the time and asked the nurse once if I could skip being weighed until I saw the doctor as I was there for ED related issues. At the time, right or wrong, I was terrified of being weighed and it was all part of the disorder. She argued with me in front of patients and told me my insurance wouldn't cover the visit if I didn't weigh. She kept telling me I didn't have a choice and wouldn't back down. I felt humiliated in front of the other patients and I didn't feel that was professional so I cancelled my future appointments and never looked back.

 

That doctor coincidentally happens to be my dad's doctor, my aunt's doctor...and my boyfriend's and his entire family's doctor. Oh - and my boyfriend's ex girlfriend shadowed the doctor at the office. I won't get too much into details, but I have heard things that the doctor has said about me from ALL of them. My aunt and dad have told me that he has talked to them about how I cancelled appointments, and about how "maybe it's because her boyfriend's ex shadows here and that's why she doesn't want to come back." Then he told my boyfriend's mom that I am "crazy" and to watch out for me. When she asked why, he said "Oh, her dad was telling me that she's crazy during his last appointment." Worse, he even told her the story about how I refused to be weighed.

 

This all came out as a topic of conversation tonight with my boyfriend's mom and because of this doctor I basically had to spill my guts about my past ED so they would understand the weight thing.

 

! I heard all this today and my blood is boiling. It seems petty, but I just feel so violated. I went to this guy when I needed help, just two times, and instead I felt like I was just gossiped about. It irks me on many levels to be talked about by my doctor - even if he is just saying "She has cancelled several appointments" it seems very unprofessional.

 

Now that I am a PA I literally cannot imagine gossiping about my patients to another patient, especially revealing personal info. There's something about it that gives me the heebie jeebies.

 

Don't know if this is a HIPAA violation but it sure makes me feel violated. Just ranting and wanting to see what other providers felt about this.

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ERCat, I'm so sorry about your violations and agree with the above.  Sometimes the act of making a complaint is empowering in that it turns your "boiling" into action and self-advocacy.  It can be a long and emotionally arousing process, however; only you can weigh the pros and cons. Best of luck.

 

On a related note, I'm dismayed at the behavior of the nurse taking vitals. I've worked with many ED patients in the past and have always instructed my staff to offer the patient the option of standing backwards on the scale so the weight is not visible.  All nurses are also instructed to never verbalize a patient's weight unless she asks for the number.  This would have prevented the above scenario, as the vital signs could have been collected for reimbursement purposes, and the patient's emotional vulnerability around issues of body weight are protected.  The provider, who should have a better sense of the patient's readiness and relative comfort with the number, can then choose to address the weight or not, if there is no significant change or no compelling reason to do so.  I also advise my ED patients to ask to be weighed with back to the scale at other provider offices, if they feel the need to do so.

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horrible

 

so sorry you have to experience this

 

 

I would consider getting and attorney (and the first thing to do is a signed gag order or confidentiality agreement with the person)

It is a tough choice - as a PA you are the awful "dependent" word and the doc's hold WAY to much control over us....

 

 

But this is just wrong and should be corrected.  

If you have the gumption - you could make and appointment with him - go in head held high, call him on the behaviors and request it to stop or else legal action will be considered. (but this could blow up on you)

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Thanks for all the replies.

 

Maybe the comments he and the nurse (who is his wife by the way... And office manager... LOL) have made have been petty but there's something about this that makes me feel so disgusted and upset. I've always put a ton of trust in my doctors - as I should be able to - so it's weird to become a topic of gossip. I think the doctor patient relationship is sacred and shouldn't be violated like that. At the time when I was dealing with the disorder every time I heard "Dr So and So said this about you..." I felt that awful out of control feeling.

 

On another note I am pretty sure that a patient can REFUSE to be weighed. This was the dialogue by the way.

 

I asked her "Can I skip the weight for now?"

"No, you can't."

"Please let me skip the weight. This is really hard for me."

"You have to be weighed. Why don't you want me to weigh you?" (5 patients from the waiting room area staring at this point)

"I have a history of a disorder and that's why I am here...would just like to talk to the doctor first about the weight thing."

"You HAVE to be weighed."

"Pretty sure I can refuse to be weighed."

"No, you can't or else your insurance will deny payment for the visit." (NOT TRUE)

 

I kept arguing with her and instead of backing down she got huffy and ticked off in front of patients. Pretty sure her arguments were not true. I went to other doctors after that who were totally happy with skipping the weight altogether, and I've never had insurance deny payment over that.

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"No, you can't or else your insurance will deny payment for the visit." (NOT TRUE)

 

Def not true because I've skipped doing weights for patients who have/had a hx of eating disorders. I explain it to the providers and they say okay.

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Skip the attorney route and file a complaint with the state medical board if you elect to do anything (don't forget that in the real world this could have potential long-term ramifications for yourself as well behind the scenes).  You also don't specify the time interval involved since the events in question and your posting here.  This becomes an "I said/they said" event, even though you have family members/close contacts who have made you aware of this.  You also have to appreciate that if you were to make an attempt to file a legal complaint that one could argue that there is an ulterior motive with the familial involvement.  Not saying that this is the case, but one on the defensive COULD make this argument.

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I understand that you're angry and, yes, it was unprofessional for him to do that, but, if it were me, I would just leave it alone. It likely won't be worth the time/financial commitment to push anything forward. Like another poster mentioned, it's more of a "he said/she said" situation and will be difficult to prove, especially since it sounds like you saw him years ago.

 

I would just not go to that office anymore and would recommend others to not go to him.

 

Just my 2 cents.

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So, was it only your BF's mom who told you the medical privacy-relevant stuff?  What you ascribe to others above is pretty benign small town gossip, and doesn't speak to any medical condition, just to relationship issues. If there's more high-grade nonsense going on beyond what you laid out above, and you certainly hint that there might be, then my below caution is unnecessary, but I always hesitate to vilify a person based on something I did not observe personally.

 

Have you considered the possibility that your boyfriend's mom may be attributing things to this doc that she got from other sources?  I don't know you or her, so I don't know what sort of relationship you two have, whether she likes you and wants you as a daughter-in-law or whether she's looking for a wedge to separate you from her son, or just a way to bring up a concern about your past issues.  She obviously got you talking about the eating disorder, so if that was her goal, she succeeded.

 

If the doc was in fact the source of the information as stated by your boyfriend's mom, then yes, this was absolutely inappropriate and you've gotten decent advice above about how to handle it.

 

BUT... not everyone who tells you something is telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, especially when they may have a motive to lie to you.  Again, I know nothing of her intentions, and I can only see about the total situation what I read in you post above, so my suspicions are based on capabilities and potential for misinformation.

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Rev Ronin, I would totally question this if I heard gossip from one person... But at this point I've heard of FIVE different people that have said they heard something about me from this doctor.

 

I don't think I am going to pursue anything legally because it is kind of a he said she said thing and it just has sort of a nasty small town gossip feel to it (although... I don't live in a small town! Not that that matters). Instead I think I just want to write the guy and his mean nurse wife a note calling them out on their lack of professionalism. I may even get from each family member and friend an exact account of what was said about me.

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I'm very sorry this happened to you.  This doctor and his staff definitely sound very unprofessional and you have every right to be angry and feel violated.  Good thing you only had two appointments with him.  That being said, sometimes stuff and people in life just suck!  Hopefully, being able to discuss this here and with others will help to relieve you of some of this anger.  While legal action and further confrontation are justifiable options, it may be better to just walk away from it.  Often times the more fuel you throw into something, the bigger the fire.  It sounds as if this may be a personal vendetta for this doctor/his wife (for whatever reason) and doesn't seem to indicate repeated HIPAA violations of pt information.  So, if you are able to keep your head held high and move past this, the gossip may just go away since people usually loose interest in talking about someone who doesn't react.  I am aware that this can be easier said than done... but something to think about.  At the very least, I'm sure this experience will make you a stronger person and very aware of how hurtful gossip can be.  Again, I'm sorry this happened to you and hope that whatever you choose to do, works out.

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On the weight thing, that really caught my attention.  Asking a provider to evaluate you/treat you for an eating disorder without a weight is like asking to be treated for a COPD exacerbation or possible PNE without a pulse ox.  Or to have your diabetes treated without a blood sugar or A1C.  Or to treat your hypertension without blood pressure readings.  If you need help with the psychiatric aspects of the disease, then see a counselor.  If you want a medical perspective, then you have to give your weight and possibly many other "metrics" (e.g. labs) to help quantify your illness and develop a treatment plan.  

 

And it is entirely possible for a particular insurance to deny a claim for "eating disorder" when your weight isn't in the documentation.  Would you expect an insurance company to pay for a hypertension visit without documented hypertension?  

 

I don't know you of course, but if you were my patient presenting for an ED and won't give your weight, I would suspect you are not ready to deal with the problem and would refer you to psychiatry or counseling before dealing with the medical side of things (maybe).  The gossip thing is terrible, but your health is the most important thing here.  

 

Having said that, there is no reason the nurse could not have taken your weight without you knowing what it is, especially if it were an initial visit.  I have plenty of patients that don't want to tell the nurse anything (e.g. the 14 year old male with a groin rash).  But acute vs. chronic issues are different, especially when there is a psychological aspect. Eventually, you need to "know" your weight too, so to speak.  And more important than a provider quantifying your illness is you quantifying your illness.

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Weights are not required to be paid - for that matter no vitals are 'required'

 

it is good medicine

 

but we do not live in North Korea and therefor we have rights, and no one can 'force' you onto a scale  -  it was handled very poorly..

 

as for the doc - he is an idiot..

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That's horrible and definitely a HIPAA violation. Technically, shouldn't he even not be able to confirm that you are a patient or had a visit? Where I work, our insurance will only cover visits with other providers in our health network, which I hate, because I feel so uncomfortable talking to someone who is essentially a colleague about sensitive subjects. My PCP refers people to our neurology clinic all the time, so I never talk about my history of ED, anxiety, trouble dealing with stress, etc because I don't want him to judge me or my care. I had never even thought about the whole gossip thing, but I could definitely see that happening too. 

 

I'm so sorry you had to go through that - it's hard enough to deal with something like an ED, be able to bring it up to someone with the stigma surrounding it, and accept treatment for it without also having to worry about them talking bad about you to anyone who will listen. 

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Pity you can't just go into their office and throat punch them or sew their lips shut without coming off like the bad one...though there's nothing wrong with booking an appointment and when you're in the office alone with them, having a terse one way conversation with them.

 

SK

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If a patient has a history of eating disorder that is not actively under treatment - and that person asks not to weigh or not be told - I allow it.

If it IS the topic of discussion then weight is a must.

 

Meaningless Use counts if the patient Decline Weight. So, it isn't a must at all. The MA or nurse can click or put in Declined by Pt.

 

The doctor has no right to discuss you with any family or friends. Again, shouldn't even acknowledge that you are a patient.

 

I have worked in tiny towns where everyone peeps in everyone else's kitchen window. If you are seen in the waiting room, someone will ask me why you are there. 

 

I have adopted a set of phrases that usually end the discussion. "Well, I can't really discuss ANY patient here. You can ask them at the grocery store later."  Or, with family - "I guess you will have to ask them at the next family get together because I can't discuss ANY patient I see with anyone else, not even my husband."

 

I am sorry you had to go through that and think the doctor and that office are violating ethics, privacy laws and general human decency.

 

Collect some thoughts from this forum and some quotes perhaps and put them together on a blank piece of paper, print them out and mail it to his office anonymously - no threats, just comments under a heading that says "What it feels like to have my doctor talk about me behind my back"

 

It empties those feelings out of your soul and provides at least an opportunity for the doc to understand that words do have some power and he should shut up.

 

Just my old 2 cents.....

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I'm so sorry you had to go through that - it's hard enough to deal with something like an ED, be able to bring it up to someone with the stigma surrounding it, and accept treatment for it without also having to worry about them talking bad about you to anyone who will listen. 

I treat ED in primary care all the time. Not to threadjack too badly, but I use the N-word a whole lot when I'm talking to men about their ED:

 

Normal.

 

It seems to give them a sense of relief to know they're not alone, that those silly TV commercials really are true.  Everyone's story is different, but the relief they get when I affirm them is quite positive.

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If a patient has a history of eating disorder that is not actively under treatment - and that person asks not to weigh or not be told - I allow it.

If it IS the topic of discussion then weight is a must.

 

Meaningless Use counts if the patient Decline Weight. So, it isn't a must at all. The MA or nurse can click or put in Declined by Pt.

 

The doctor has no right to discuss you with any family or friends. Again, shouldn't even acknowledge that you are a patient.

 

I have worked in tiny towns where everyone peeps in everyone else's kitchen window. If you are seen in the waiting room, someone will ask me why you are there. 

 

I have adopted a set of phrases that usually end the discussion. "Well, I can't really discuss ANY patient here. You can ask them at the grocery store later."  Or, with family - "I guess you will have to ask them at the next family get together because I can't discuss ANY patient I see with anyone else, not even my husband."

 

I am sorry you had to go through that and think the doctor and that office are violating ethics, privacy laws and general human decency.

 

Collect some thoughts from this forum and some quotes perhaps and put them together on a blank piece of paper, print them out and mail it to his office anonymously - no threats, just comments under a heading that says "What it feels like to have my doctor talk about me behind my back"

 

It empties those feelings out of your soul and provides at least an opportunity for the doc to understand that words do have some power and he should shut up.

 

THIS.... ALL OF THIS. ;)

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I treat ED in primary care all the time. Not to threadjack too badly, but I use the N-word a whole lot when I'm talking to men about their ED:

 

Normal.

 

It seems to give them a sense of relief to know they're not alone, that those silly TV commercials really are true. Everyone's story is different, but the relief they get when I affirm them is quite positive.

oh wow ha!!! Amazing.

 

 

Girl... If your bfs mom will vouch.. Get a lawyer, a settlement, and pay for a good ED retreat where you can get proper tx and a nice tan. What a dick.

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