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Doctor/GP dropped me without warning?
Old 11-30-2012, 07:38 PM   #1
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Doctor/GP dropped me without warning?

We have a GP we both like, been with him for more than 15 years. DW & I take care of ourselves and so are 'unfortunately' in good health. My wife had an appt with him a week ago, and they told her they dropped me because they have not seen me in 6 years. Since I got annual physicals at work until 17 months ago, and I'm healthy, there hasn't been any need. Frankly I was thinking about scheduling a physical soon anyway. But I was surprised that they would:
  • drop me with no warning whatsover
  • drop me, but not DW (do they drop individual family members 'we haven't seen your husband and your daughter Sally, so we're dropping them, but you and your son Billy are still patients')
I plan to drop in personally next week to schedule a physical, politely ask some questions, and see how they react.

Again, we like the guy, or we'd just both bolt. Seems a PITA to have different GP's.

Seems an odd way to do business to me...
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Old 11-30-2012, 08:17 PM   #2
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I work with thousands of doctors. While I've known several who would "fire" a patient who they feel is a PITA, I've never known a physician to drop a patient simply because they have not seen them after a certain period of time. Might need to update/verify some medical record and insurance information, but not drop them.

Much less tell their spouse.

I suspect "dropping you" may just have been a poor choice of words by the front line office staff. They may have converted to EMR and didn't have your updated records or perhaps changed billing software and there wasn't any current charge history for you. In any event, it would be good for you to express your concern to your GP so that he/she can address it no matter the cause or misunderstanding.
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Old 11-30-2012, 08:31 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midpack View Post
We have a GP we both like, been with him for more than 15 years. DW & I take care of ourselves and so are 'unfortunately' in good health. My wife had an appt with him a week ago, and they told her they dropped me because they have not seen me in 6 years. Since I got annual physicals at work until 17 months ago, and I'm healthy, there hasn't been any need. Frankly I was thinking about scheduling a physical soon anyway. But I was surprised that they would:
  • drop me with no warning whatsover
  • drop me, but not DW (do they drop individual family members 'we haven't seen your husband and your daughter Sally, so we're dropping them, but you and your son Billy are still patients')
I plan to drop in personally next week to schedule a physical, politely ask some questions, and see how they react.

Again, we like the guy, or we'd just both bolt. Seems a PITA to have different GP's.

Seems an odd way to do business to me...
I expect it is just a poor choice of words, and an excuse to charge you more on your next visit to "update your records".

Like you I had annual physicals plus flu shots at work. I hadn't visited my Doc in 7 years by the year I ER'ed. DW and I went in for flu shots that year. She had a 5 minute visit and nothing to pay but I had to have a much longer session as, reading between the lines, they had changed their record system and knew nothing about me. It cost me $30 copay for a Doc visit (and my insurance a lot more), and then the flu shot cost me nothing.
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Old 11-30-2012, 08:41 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by LakeTravis View Post
I suspect "dropping you" may just have been a poor choice of words by the front line office staff. They may have converted to EMR and didn't have your updated records or perhaps changed billing software and there wasn't any current charge history for you.
+1...Did you ask what "dropped" means to them?
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Old 11-30-2012, 10:44 PM   #5
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they have not seen me in 6 years.
Quote:
Originally posted by Alan: I hadn't visited my Doc in 7 years by the year I ER'ed.
If you had found yourself needing emergency medical care, say in the hospital emergency room and just diagnosed as needing an emergency apendectomy, would you have given the GP (who you had not seen in 6 or 7 years) as your doc? Or, more appropriately, would you have said you didn't really have a current doc and that you worked at Company X and had your physicals and flu shots there?

I hope one of our medical pros speaks up on this subject, but I think a GP might find it awkward to have some emergency service provider contact him about a patient, identifying him as their GP, who he hasn't seen in many years.
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Old 12-01-2012, 08:10 AM   #6
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I suspect "dropping you" may just have been a poor choice of words by the front line office staff.
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Originally Posted by Alan View Post
I expect it is just a poor choice of words, and an excuse to charge you more on your next visit to "update your records".
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+1...Did you ask what "dropped" means to them?
When they told DW they had dropped me, they also recommended two other local GPs that were taking new patients. That sounded like they weren't planning to see me ever again, though my wife is still a patient...
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Originally Posted by youbet
If you had found yourself needing emergency medical care, say in the hospital emergency room and just diagnosed as needing an emergency apendectomy, would you have given the GP (who you had not seen in 6 or 7 years) as your doc? Or, more appropriately, would you have said you didn't really have a current doc and that you worked at Company X and had your physicals and flu shots there?

I hope one of our medical pros speaks up on this subject, but I think a GP might find it awkward to have some emergency service provider contact him about a patient, identifying him as their GP, who he hasn't seen in many years.
Yes, I would identify him as my GP. He's the one who has all my medical records. While I understand he might be uncomfortable having not seen me for 6 years, it would have been nice if they had warned us somehow, obviously they have all our contact information.

Shame on me for being in good health, and not bothering a doctor unnecessarily.

I know my dentist saw her patient visit frequency fall off with insurance restrictions on periodic checkups over the past few years. But she just took on more patients, so she still has the same revenue coming in. I thought over the past 10-20 years doctors were taking on more patients for much the same reasons? I wouldn't blame a doctor for keeping their revenues up if revenue/patient was falling, they're certainly entitled to make a good living.

And the idea they'd drop me but not DW seems very odd. Again my POV.

I'll know more next week when I visit them in person.
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Old 12-01-2012, 09:07 AM   #7
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I am just very surprised in this day and age that the information about dropping you would be given so casually and indirectly (hello, privacy laws--and what if your wife forgot to pass it on and you had a lifethreatening situation etc etc). I don't doubt docs can drop whomever they wish for whatever reason but that the patient isn't advised with some documented communication is odd imho. The office must be sending you something and told your dw ahead of time as a "courtesy," but still. Someone could be in trouble for sharing this. Keep us posted.
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Old 12-01-2012, 09:57 AM   #8
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Maybe this is "just policy" but if I were you I'd try to personalize this one. It sounds like you are going to do that. You might even consider trying to talk to the doctor if no change is forthcoming from the staff, and respectfully tell him how you feel about this.
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Old 12-01-2012, 10:31 AM   #9
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If you had found yourself needing emergency medical care, say in the hospital emergency room and just diagnosed as needing an emergency apendectomy, would you have given the GP (who you had not seen in 6 or 7 years) as your doc? Or, more appropriately, would you have said you didn't really have a current doc and that you worked at Company X and had your physicals and flu shots there?

I hope one of our medical pros speaks up on this subject, but I think a GP might find it awkward to have some emergency service provider contact him about a patient, identifying him as their GP, who he hasn't seen in many years.
Good point, something I had not given any thought to. I'm sure that I would have given my GP even though I hadn't been there for 7 years. Between 2001 and 2004 I visited the practice several times with illnesses and tendonitis, but have not been sick or injured since, having annual, very thorough, "executive" physicals at the practice of the company Doc, plus flu shots at work. The company Doc was close to work but 25 miles from home so I always went to our family GP for everything else.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a national database, so even if you get sick while on vacation the local Doc can immediately bring up your medical records.
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Old 12-01-2012, 10:35 AM   #10
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Wouldn't it be nice to have a national database, so even if you get sick while on vacation the local Doc can immediately bring up your medical records.
Well played. And I agree, we're (the US) resisting progress with all our might on that front among others...
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Old 12-01-2012, 11:34 AM   #11
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When they told DW they had dropped me, they also recommended two other local GPs that were taking new patients. That sounded like they weren't planning to see me ever again, though my wife is still a patient... .
Wow - that IS weird. I can see them taking old records off the shelf - I'm sure there are lots of folks who move away or die and their GP is never notified. But to recommend other doctors when they know you are alive and well .... just seems strange to me.

Can't wait to hear their side of the story when you talk to them in person next week.
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Old 12-01-2012, 12:00 PM   #12
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I have occasionally run across physicians who aren't taking new patients. I suspect that your physician is one of those so as long as you are on the books as a patient the physician can't (won't) take another new patient. Therefore, having you in the database but not coming in for visits is taking up a "slot" that could be more profitably filled with someone who comes in more often.
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Old 12-01-2012, 01:18 PM   #13
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Good point, something I had not given any thought to. I'm sure that I would have given my GP even though I hadn't been there for 7 years. Between 2001 and 2004 I visited the practice several times with illnesses and tendonitis, but have not been sick or injured since, having annual, very thorough, "executive" physicals at the practice of the company Doc, plus flu shots at work. The company Doc was close to work but 25 miles from home so I always went to our family GP for everything else.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a national database, so even if you get sick while on vacation the local Doc can immediately bring up your medical records.
Yep, an extended period of using med services not coordinated through or communicated to your GP does leave the GP in an awkward situation when later you refer to that GP when suddenly receiving services from a specialist or an emergency room type situation.

I only brought it up since I had a similar situation. When I found myself needing an emergency appendectomy late at night on Xmas day and the emergency room folks inquired as to whether I had a GP they could call, I gave the GP I had used for many years but hadn't seen for some time (2 yrs or so). He did refer a surgeon and provided some other info. Weeks later in his office, he did suggest I keep in touch a bit more often. Given that, I was just wondering how he would have responded if it had been 6 or 7 yrs as with midpack or yourself.

Perhaps healthy folks receiving physicals and routine innoculations from work (or another source) and not regularly seeing their GP should talk to their GP about the situation. I wouldn't just assume that your doc considers you his patient after many years of unexplained absence have gone by. Or, make an effort to have your own data base of your medical records and have no need to refer to "your" GP.

I do agree a national data base would be a good thing.........
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Old 12-01-2012, 01:47 PM   #14
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Yes, I would identify him as my GP. He's the one who has all my medical records.
Did you send him the results of the employer-provided physicals you had been receiving in lieu of seeing him?
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While I understand he might be uncomfortable having not seen me for 6 years, it would have been nice if they had warned us somehow, obviously they have all our contact information.

.
I generally agree with that. I'm not sure how a med practice would (or even should) establish some requirement to keep in touch from time to time as part of being an ongoing patient. But there does seem to be a disconnect between considering a doc to be "your doc" and yet not seeing him for extended periods of time.

This whole discussion has me thinking about my relationship with "my" doc as Medicare reimbursements go down and the number of other insured folks competing for his time increases....... I'm glad you brought this topic up. I'm sensing there may be more demand for doc services in the future and I want to be on "my guy's" A list. Yet, I don't want to go in unnecessarily frequently or waste resources.
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Old 12-01-2012, 02:07 PM   #15
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My wife's dermatologist dropped everyone who hadn't been seen in the last 18 months because they could not keep up with the work. Maybe it was a volume thing.
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Old 12-01-2012, 02:14 PM   #16
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It does seem unfair to expect your GP to take on your extraordinary illnesses when you have physicals elsewhere. Sort of like a family you haven't talked to for six years and then show up on their doorstep. But certainly the economics required it.
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Old 12-01-2012, 02:19 PM   #17
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It cost me $30 copay for a Doc visit (and my insurance a lot more), and then the flu shot cost me nothing.
I'd say the flu shot cost you $30!

-----

I had my lifelong (~25 years) GP retire on me without notice -- got a letter in the mail one day from some other doctor I'd never heard of notifying me my doctor had retired, moved out of state, and this new guy had bought the practice (and apparently my medical records in the bargain). I woulda thought my doctor would have sent me a letter after that long....

Less than a year later I got another letter from a third doctor, saying he'd bought the practice (and my records) from the second -- no reason given.

Turned out my original doctor hadn't actually retired -- he moved his practice to the other state and reopened it specializing in geriatrics...

Now we're with a completely different guy we found on our own, and he's the best we've ever had. All I can say to or about all the others is....

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Old 12-01-2012, 02:31 PM   #18
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I wonder if this has something to do with the requirment for electronic records? It must cost something to convert records to an electronic form and why do it for somebody who hasn't been seen for many years?
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Old 12-01-2012, 02:33 PM   #19
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I'm not sure how a med practice would (or even should) establish some requirement to keep in touch from time to time as part of being an ongoing patient.
That already exists in the case of patients who receive maintenance prescriptions, and many health ins. policies cover annual checkups (and other wellness items) w/o requiring copays, which makes it kind of hard not to see a doctor at least once a year.
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Old 12-01-2012, 02:39 PM   #20
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A couple of years ago my long-time doc cut back to part time and semi-retired - at age 55. The nerve of that guy!

When I went on Medicare last year I took the opportunity to find a new much younger female doc who opened a clinic much closer to us. Been to see her a couple of times and so far I'm happy with the change.
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