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ileneiilene Posts: 140
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:38 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
My frustration level is rising. I will be 10 weeks post op on Monday, I last saw my surgeon at 5 weeks post op and have been in PT for 3 weeks. My problem seems to be that I don't want to take the word of the OM (office manager) when I call with a question, or symptom. I called the office wanting her to ask my surgeon when I drive if I am suppose to wear a collar. She asked me what he said at my last appoitment, I told her that he said I could probably start driving in around 2 weeks, but that the subject of collar never came up except that as a passenger I should wear the hard collar. She then said that I should put off driving till my next visit, which is on Nov. 18, I told her that I wanted her to ask the surgeon this question and then she can get back to me. I also asked her to tell him that my arm has tingling on the opposite side then it was tingling prior to surgery, and this was bothering me since it probably means a different nerve. She said that it was normal, I again said how I wanted to hear it was normal from my surgeon. She replied that she wasn't going to have to ask him that since she knew it was normal!....she doesn't have a medical degree, she isn't a PA or RN. I went for 4 consultations before I chose my surgeon, it is known that many doctors who need spinal surgery use him, including the one who recomended him to me. He is suppose to be an artist at what he does, but I am missing the bed side manner and a doctor that is aproachable. When I see him in the office he is wonderful, but once I leave the office, I can not ask him a question. When I leave messages they do not get answered. I last left a question on Thursday morning, it is Friday night, and I have not had a call back. I am not asking that he call me back, I am asking that he answer my questions, is that to much to ask? Any opinions will be appreciated. He works out of one of the best orthopedic hospitals in the US, he is associate director of their spine institute...



  • you don't want to hear this but I am thinking that if he really is that good he is probably extremely busy. Not that I think that your questions don't deserve to be answered in a timely manner but I do think that sometimes docs may spread themselves way too thin. Is it possible to get an earlier appt in order to go in and ask your questions? I agree with you about the office manager. It is maddening when the office folks start to think that they know as much as the docs do. This is just my opinion and I hope that it helps. Good luck.
  • I agee with you. I don't blame the OM, When I worked I was an ultrasound techonlogist, and have worked in both hospitals and in private offices. I don't believe that the OM would be giving medical advice if my surgeon didn't give her permission to do so. I think in this day and age of mal practice, that doctors are awear of what their staff is telling their patients, which doesn't help me when I am the patient. I also realize it is the doctor who isn't getting back to me, but I still wonder if the OM is even givng him the messages? Or if she is taking it upon herself to lessen his calls. As for making an earlier apt I tried that too, she said unless it was an emergency, she wasn't able to fit me in earlier, and if I have an emergency she would ask my to have the x ray and MRI prior to seeing him.

    Several weeks ago I posted a question it was suggested that I contact my surgeon, that he works for me. Am I the only one that has a surgeon that you can't ask a question of? If not alone, what have you done?

  • Hi Ilene,

    I do have to say, I have gone through the same things you are going through. I called to ask the surgeon a question and the call was returned by someone in the office. Although after reading the records latter, it became clear that the questions were asked to the surgeon, he is just a busy person. I think when you get in the world of surgeons it is harder for them to call you back. The have office time and then off to surgery as well. Then of course many of them are doing rotations on a hospital basis as well, for on call. So there time is stretched. Unfortunately, the questions you are asking are probably not unique. While you feel they are unique to your situation they get those quit regularly. I had similar thing following surgery that my other arm started acting up, seems they just move so much in there and is possible they did work around those nerves. As long as you are calling the office with your concerns, the questions are more than likely getting to the surgeon. I was at the surgeon the other day and heard the OM say before you leave I have a bunch of patients needing answers. So I heard her run down the list of questions to him and she took the notes. I know he was on the way out the door to a emergency surgery. So don't feel like he/she is avoiding you, just kind of happens. I do hope they were able to answer your questions though.
  • Good answer, Tamtam. When my surgeon heard that I was frustrated after my second surgery, he took a couple of emails from me. It was helpful, but I also realized it was rare for him to do that. I doubt the office manager would give that out. I got my surgeon's email from his physican assistant who was also somewhat helpful with my questions.

    Many of us have had situations similar to ilene's. And that is why this website is soooo helpful! It's hard to get answers after surgery. Sometimes just asking others who have gone before you if they experienced something similar is so helpful.

  • For what it's worth, in my opinion JJ and Tamtam are right.

    PCP/GP receptionists are in a different category though. Not to be disrespectful, but before she became our local receptionist & 'heady with her new-found power', ours was my cleaner with no training in anything pertaining towards medicine! I began emailing questions directly to my PCP/GP, so legally she was not allowed to read/answer them (although I'm sure she did!).

    However I wouldn't even think of trying this tactic with my neurosurgeon's PA because - in my opinion - they're in a different league.

    One thing that has helped me over the years, is to write down my questions beforehand, so I don't forget any of them in the heat of the moment.

    Good luck!

    Bye, Val
  • when I was scheduled to come in to have staples removed scheduled my the nurse.....she ended up having a sick child so the office manager took them out.......they hurt like hell and she didn't put steri strips on or anything- I came back in the next week to have the ones in my belly taken out-again scheduled by the nurse- she started to remove them when the surgeon walked in and said "What are you doing?, its way too soon to remove those!" WHAT THE HELL and here the ones in my back were remove the week prior- the nurse gave me a staple remover and sent me home after once again scheduling to have to belly ones removed on Monday- Sunday I said to hell with all this driving back and forth and I took them out myself- didnt hurt at all.
    When I call for a question the OM always forgets to have a nurse or ns to call me back and feels that her medical advice is good enough!! It frustrates me so bad!!
    Good luck- I would go in person if you live close or schedule an appointment before Nov 18th

  • Most surgeons have a physician's assistant (PA) that you can talk to more easily. Does your surgeon not have a PA? If not, I agree that you should make an appointment with the surgeon to get your questions answered.

  • Hi, unfortuately when I asked if there was a PA, RN, that could please call me back, or at least that she could ask my questions of if the surgeon was to busy. She said that the PA and RN only work with clinic patients, and for the doctors private patients there is only Him! I then gave her 3 questions that I requested she get back to me on, since I wanted to know what to do, and to make sure certain things were normal. That was Thurs, the day he see's private patients. Today is Sat. and no one got back to me. When I asked about an earlier apt I was told only if it was an "emergency", which it isn't. I even told her it isn't a medical emergency, but it is of great importance to me since it would make me feel better.

    Thanks, I guess I will wait till I see him on Nov. 18. Do you think I am wrong to want to tell the surgeon how disapointed I am that no one in the office ever gets back to me with answers to any questions or concerns I have?

  • I think that you are well within your rights to mention your concerns to the surgeon. If the OM did not relay the msg to him you will make him aware of this and maybe help a future patient out if not yourself the next time that you need him. Either way if it were me I would definitely let him know how disappointed you are in his after care. Good luck and let us know how you make out.
  • I have been pretty lucky with this one.

    My ortho surgeon is way overbooked and still will never turn down a patient in need. SOmehow you are still out of there in the same 45 mins including wait time. He just knows how to handle his schedule. When you leave a message with his secretary either the doctor or the PA will call you back. I had the doctor calling me from his cell right after my surgery. Speaking of which he will call you around 9PM after surgery to check on you personally.

    My neuro has a secretary who has extensive knowledge. She can help with the ordinary questions. All else she runs past him. If he has an easy answer she calls you before the end of the day. If it is more involved he calls you himself.

    I know this is unusual. And I am very happy to have both of them.
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