Wednesday, October 26, 2011

George Mindling Column 01-27-2006


 Another Old Guy


“Ouch!” I yelped as the lab technician pulled the electrodes off my hairy chest without warning. “Why didn’t you tell me you were going to pull those off?” I asked incredulously.

“You would’ve flinched anyway,” She smirked.

No problem! Switching hospitals is as easy as pulling off electrodes, and I did.

Customer satisfaction is measured in different ways, and it is seen differently from different points of view. I was scheduled for minor surgery and had to undergo an EKG as a standard part of the preparation for the operation. The hospital in question had a fairly good reputation from past patients I had talked to, but I didn’t get that warm, fuzzy feeling while filling out paper work among boxes strewn along the corridors and overflowing waste cans. Finally, the single action of a lab technician who was apparently aggravated because she wanted to go to lunch but had another old guy to test before she could eat set another warning flag.

Several weeks passed, then the final flag went up. My suspicions were confirmed when the hospital called me asking where I was on the scheduled day of the operation. My operation had been cancelled by my surgeon and his office because of an aberration on the EKG. I needed clearance from a cardiologist before anybody would fix any part of my aging, but hairy, body. I needed a stress test and further consultation before my surgeon would undertake the operation, and had put the whole procedure on hold until I was deemed healthy enough for surgery.

I answered the phone innocently enough with my standard, “Hello.”
“Where are you?” the female voice on the other end the phone asked.
“I’m here, obviously! Who are you and why do you want to know,” I countered.
“This is the operating room and we want to know why you aren’t here!”
“Because you cancelled the operation!” I answered suspiciously. “Who are you again?”
“Uunnh, Can you hang on a minute…”

The hospital in question followed up with a satisfaction telephone call. I was as honest as I could be while trying to describe the effect of being uncomfortable with what I had seen and felt, rather than actually pushing hard facts and numbers. Attitudes are hard to measure. They can be fleeting as a headache, but as damaging as a personal insult.

I have been assured the procedure that allowed the scheduling oversight has been corrected, and I’m sure interoffice communications has been elevated to a new level to prevent further gaps in scheduling. It was an unfortunate ending to a decision I made based on a lab tech just being rude. Somehow, however, I felt I made the right decision to go elsewhere.

Customer satisfaction is the hard part of the bargain, even for us old guys. 

George Mindling

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