Board Torture

She glared at me, sharp daggers of hatred radiating from her eyes working hard to try to nail me to the wall.

“I thought you said you treated anxiety.”

“I do.”

“Then write the damn prescription.” Her lip curled. “Or are you not a real doctor?”

“As I said, I will give you a few pills until we can get you into a psychiatrist. No more than that.”

“I don’t want your damn ‘few.’ I paid for an office visit. Are you saying I just wasted my money?”

“Actually, I don’t think spending time with me is a waste of money at all.” I smiled at her. She didn’t think that was funny.

She stood up and started pacing.

This was the first time I had met her. She had no insurance. She wanted me to prescribe a large quantity of a controlled substance. I don’t even do that for my established patients.

“I am going to step out to print your checkout information and will get that referral started for you.” Usually I do all of this in the room with the patient so we can chat while the computer does its thing, but I had just about had enough of her.

Stoney silence.

I took my computer to my office and started printing the superbill. The door to the exam room opened and a head peeked out. Seeing the way was clear, the rest of her body quickly followed, making a beeline for the front door. My assistant ran after her.

“Ma’am! You forgot your paperwork!” She walked past, brushing the proffered sheets of paper away.

She hit the exit door.

“Wait, ma’am! You didn’t check out!” the clerk shouted after her. She didn’t even look back as she barreled out of the front door.

This isn’t the first time something like this had occurred and really, I was not fazed at all except to wonder if she would get a patient satisfaction survey and slam me. Occupational hazard. If I were a really, really good physician, I would have made her feel happy about not getting her drugs.

Oh, well. Bet she won’t be back.

A few weeks later as I was checking my online reviews, I noticed several sites had similar one star reviews and outrageous, inflammatory claims about how this person was mistreated. I wracked my brain, trying to figure out who I had offended, having already forgotten this woman.

Interestingly, the reviews were all left on the same day, so on a hunch, I checked the schedule. There it was. Her name. All of the unpleasantness came flooding back and I seethed.

The next day, several high level emails came from corporate wanting me to explain myself about a patient complaint filed with the hospital system. By her.

Two weeks later, a certified letter arrived saying that I was under investigation by the state medical board for a litany of outrageous claims. Her again.

I spent six months of nail biting and extreme anxiety as the attorney said, “This is so silly! STILL it (is) the state board. You just never know how these things are going to go…”

This was the first time I had ever faced harassment of this level and the first time I had ever had to defend myself to the state board. Throughout the process, I had the feeling that I was assumed to be guilty until proven innocent, that the burden of proof was on me. I kept telling myself that it was OK for me to go through this if it meant the system caught physicians who should not be practicing, who were dangerous.

And yet it stole six months of my life. When I was holding my baby, I thought about her. When I was cooking dinner, I thought about her. In the shower or lying awake at night, I thought about her. It should not be that easy for someone to steal your life!

In the end, our written response was accepted and the case was dismissed. I don’t think the woman cared about the outcome when she got her letter saying it was going no further. She had gotten what she wanted. I had been miserable for six months in return for spending 30 minutes with her.

Next time. Next time I won’t let it get to me. Or so I say. I still get angry and shaky when I think about this episode.


118 thoughts on “Board Torture

  1. Well, that just sucks. That’s why I have a job where I don’t have to deal with people — well, at least not regular people. People buying and selling houses might whine and try to bully a bit, but they’re usually just so happy the deal is finally over that they go away quietly. Fortunately, I’ve never seen my name maligned on-line – I don’t know how I would handle that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is one of the reasons I put little stock in user reviews, be they of restaurants or health care providers (not that the two are in any way related). They are entirely subjective and what one person considers to be awful treatment, another might look at it as exactly what was needed. The unfortunately thing was that this “patient” of yours apparently took it further than just putting bad reviews online but apparently filed a formal complaint with “the authorities.” Sorry you had to go through this. But I can relate. I was a victim of identity theft and that took a while get cleared up.

    Liked by 2 people

      • I tried to use it years ago and found that for the doctors I was looking up, there are usually just a few (under 5) reviews. That’s not statistically accurate. I would need to see at least 50 reviews to feel confident that the comments aren’t the result of a personality conflict. If I would use it for anything, it’s more likely I would be looking up how late the appointments run on a regular basis. The doctor connection is very personal. I had a radiation oncologist that was said to be the best of the best. His communication skills were so weak that I didn’t know if I was getting the right information.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. How terrible. I’ve never experienced anything like that, but I can imagine how much it impacted your life, especially since there was no merit and your good name was being tarnished.

    Online reviews are a tricky thing, and patients should take them with a grain of salt. It’s usually the disgruntled people who leave them, and the information is not always accurate (as your case showed). So sorry you went through that. Ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In a world that seems to have gone utterly crazy, you DID do the right thing. And I am proud of you for doing so! I’ve been to a GP who pushed pills on me, and because I refused to take them, they booted me out! No lie! I was sent a registered letter (one that must be signed for) telling me I am no longer a patient of Dr. X due to non-compliance. Is that not pathetic? So for YOU to NOT give this woman drugs, I applaud you! Thank you for walking the High Road!! (((HUGS))) Amy

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Reblogged this on abracadabrasite and commented:
    I have had this same kind of thing happen but the difference was it wasn’t an annoyed customer. In fact the woman that repeatedly emailed my head office trying her best to get me dismissed doesn’t even know me.

    She is a part of a group of sick trolls, bullies, harassers, call them what you like they are wrong.

    The first I knew she even existed was when she messaged me on Facebook trying to tell me who I could and couldn’t be friends with. I told her straight where to go. Next thing I knew she was posting lies online that I ran a sex club and my husband and myself would use it to partner swap, which she swears she has evidence of. ……funny that because she telephoned my work place enough times with attempts to intimidate me to know damn well she’s a liar.

    She has since spent pretty much every day posting slanderous accusations about not only me but my friend and family too. Vile sick woman also passed around pictures of me their group found on a friends Facebook account. She posed under fake Facebook accounts and had conversations with her own account. She’d deny it but she was stupid enough to register her own mobile phone number to the account.

    She also has several WordPress accounts set up to ridicule me. One by the name of duncanmason she pretends to be a man but it is definitely her because the IP address that the police traced to her address is the same as that of the duncanmason account. She is also ally1lakeside and allabouteve16 oh and millymazoom on here.

    She has been completely ignored and blanked by me since those first points of contact. Yet continues her campaign…… over the last few months she has repeatedly sent emails to my head office. Lying to try to get me into trouble. Posing as a customer who wasn’t happy because I was busy on my ipad and glared at her. I was texting and completely ignored her. I was rude. She even saw during her daily stalk of me that I had posted a picture of my parrot at work.

    This picture was more than three years old but she almost instantly made two complaints that I had a parrot on the shop and she was scared to make her purchase. I was called by my area manager who asked what was going on well it was instantly obvious to me.

    Two area managers telephoned her but she decided one was my husband she began calling him asking for me. She emailed my other area manager to say the same and emailed my companies website ranting once more. She posted that it was my husband online and then when she realised she had been sussed she again telephoned my place of work pretending to be a member of staff from our head office customer care team before yet another pathetic tick tock threat.

    Now she can deny all this all she likes but unfortunately for her I have seen the police evidence and whenever anyone hits that send button on my head office website the IT team has that same IP address. The police vtraced her telephone number. I did not provide them with the number I simply gave then times dates and our service provider.

    Not long ago she confirmed her stupidity when she replied to my post about IP addresses and in doing so helpfully provided me with that same IP address again and besides any of that she also provided her own emails (all of which linked to fake Facebook accounts including one in the name of my husbands parrot) and her home and mobile telephone number to my company.

    Her real name is Alison Lambell but she goes under several variations including. Al Lambell, molly lambell, ally lambell, Andrew pickles, molly doodledog, maz monrow, charlie Senegal, Steven Morris and many more. Her friends also involved in this sick campaign are Gale Molinari, Lynn Saucier and Ann Lavin.

    They are a group of very ill old ladies that devote their lifes to stalking mine. They claim I have police charges against me for doing exactly what they do butvit is all lies. I haven’t spoken out since the start through choice. ……I guess I just changed my mind.


  6. I still remember my first complaint….. I think I lost months of sleep and 10kg. I second guessed myself everytime I stood at the operating table. In plastic surgery we meet some pretty crazy patients… So it doesn’t affect me so much now but I have learnt to take very detailed notes and photos. There’s nothing you can to about these people, and they cause a phenomenal amount of unnecessary stress. But I am sure she’s one complaint amongst hundreds of grateful patients. I have a box full of cards just so I can remind myself of that when I am really down about yet another complaint……

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Personally, I rely upon word-of-mouth for doctor referrals. Since I know a lot of nurses, that gives me a nice comfort zone to chose from. However, I do the Google thing on medications and conditions. Not before I see the Doctor, but after, to help me understand what I’m taking and why.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Online reviews are an eye into the soul of the writer. You can usually tell if someone has had a bad day and are taking it out on someone else. It doesn’t help their ratings though.
    Why is it that the psychopaths sleep soundly and the nice ones have sleepless nights? So unfair. And what ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? And why on earth do they take 6 months to process a complaint? You should complain about that! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh gosh, my sympathies! I’ve been in those situations before. It is awful, it consumes months of your life. I don’t know what the solution is, but it’s incredibly easy to use the system to harass somebody and that’s not a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You said you were going to write about bullies; this one is well outside that definition I think. At times I want to know what motivates these kinds of people, at other times I don’t ever want to be able to get close enough to understand the sickness. I was terrorized online for 3+ years, if I went back to the same area (that I enjoyed), it would pick back up again. It was online but it affected my personal life. It took over my thoughts, as you mentioned while holding your child. But you had it one step up from that, since it started in your real life and horrendously into your business. I both can and cannot imagine. I’m glad it was dismissed. I’m surprised something like this took six months to resolve! At most it should have been a week. (And those people have jobs…) You want to be compassionate towards people with illnesses (and you’d like to think someone like this isn’t all there) but there is a point. I’m a charter member of Misanthropes Anon. if you’re interested. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow, that’s an insane amount of time to have to spend on something when you were only doing your job right. Sorry you went through that!

    We always post online reviews for our doctors, especially when we find one we like a lot, since some anonymous person posting a 1-star review carries so much weight.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh, I’m so sorry that happened to you. I wouldn’t waste another six seconds thinking about it though. That’s what she was hoping for and I wouldn’t let her win!!! I had a parent call me on a Friday night and wanted to call me all kinds of ugly names and scream and yell at me. I finally told her that I didn’t allow anyone in my family to speak to me like that and I wasn’t willing to let her speak to me like that on my own time. If she had anything else to say, she could come to school during business hours and take it up with the prinicipal. Apparently she did and insisted that the student be removed from my class which was more than A-okay with moi!!! I never lost a minute of sleep over it. Another one tried to tell me her child had run away from home and was threatening to commit suicide and it was all my fault. I felt a little bad about that one for a short while, but then I realized, both the mom and the child had made very bad choices for months and after it was all said and done wanted me to do something about it. For me the answer was simple. I told her they were offering the same class again next year. Guess, that’s why I earned the tough and demanding description you gave, huh?! Hugs, N ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bravo for taking a stand for yourself! I need to try that tactic next time I get cussed out by a drug seeker while on call… I hate that you had to deal with all of those horrible parents over the years. Here’s hoping I never become one of them! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I’m sure you won’t. There were lots more nice parents than there were ones like these than I mentioned. It’s just the same old story about every barrel having at least one rotten apple. We just don’t need to let them take away anything from our lives or happiness because they are not making good and appropriate choices. Life is all about choices, and those can only be controlled by each individual. Hugs, N ❀

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m afraid you are so right when you said “guilty until proven innocent’. It doesn’t matter the profession, it hardly matters what your stellar reputation is…. when it comes down to “an official complaint”, they always react the same.
    I find the system disgusting.
    I am grateful things worked out the way they should.
    Blessings, Susan πŸ’–

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I have experienced my share people like this in my 30 years as an addictions counselor. Though if I’ve gotten bad reviews, I don’t know about it . Good idea not to read them. Maybe a friend could read the good ones to you. Addiction is a monster that turns people into monsters. That patient spent her energy on complaints because she didn’t want to look at her own issue. You absolutely did the right thing. And you were even nice about it ! Too many doctors take the easy way out, or get manipulated. Maybe you refusing to write that script and recommending a psychiatrist, moved her a tiny step closer to recognizing she has a problem. Who knows? I’m sorry you had to go through this and that the board was not supportive. I seem to recall a notice on some doctor’s wall that he practice did not prescribe habit forming medications for anxiety or something like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They are useful meds that have their place and I like being able to use them when appropriate. The board found in my favor in the end, which was supportive, ultimately. I just wish it had not dragged out so long. Part of that, though, was my attorney waiting until the very last possible moment to send off the letter of response…. That about caused me a heart attack. “What do you MEAN you haven’t sent it in yet?!??!??” Whew!


  15. I appreciate you taking the rough road and prescribing appropriately. Many docs don’t which makes my job a lot harder. Unfortunately this is the state of health care today. It only take one person with unwarranted claims (total nut case) to hold you hostage while you wait for the truth to unfold.

    My supervisor called me up due to a customer complaint because I wouldn’t fill a bad prescription. Only after he pulled her up in the database to find with multiple controls from various prescribers was I let off the hook. I hate you had to endure that.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. That sounds like a horrible experience. I wonder what it meant to her to go through all that trouble?
    A few years ago I put in a complaint against a physician at a walk-in clinic. I was in another city with my 2 month old baby who had a chronic nasal infection from NG tubes after his stay in NICU. The next day I was flying across the country and taking him with me to a conference. We had just finished his course of amoxil and two days later his symptoms were coming back, so I brought him to this clinic. I explained the whole situation to this lady: his medical history, why I was there, what the plan was with our doctor at home (to repeat the course of amoxil at double dose if it came back) and what I was asking for. She outright refused to prescribe the meds. She said he didn’t seem to have an infection and he was breathing fine. I argued that he was choking and sputtering when he breastfed and that he always has copious green nasal secretions (which I just cleaned before she came into the room). I even offered to have my pediatritian send her clinic notes that outlined our plan. She still refused. Then she said that “to make me happy,” if he had a fever she would give me amoxil at half the dose he was taking before (What good would that do?). She didn’t even examine him. And even after she got the notes that completely supported what I said (which took me hours to get faxed to the clinic), she still refused… I think on principle (maybe she didn’t want a medical student telling her how to do her job)? All this to say, right in my letter of complaint, there is a section that asked what I was hoping the outcome would be. I said I wanted her to be aware of a need for greater focus on patient centred care and that I felt her behaviour was bordering on “harmful.” In a few months, I got a letter explaining that the case found she was “not at fault” for anything, but she did apologize and said that after “reflecting” on the situation, she realized that it could have been handled differently (and that she realized the importance of making good notes).
    All this to say, it sounds like your patient’s motivation for complaining about something that you did right, was just to try and ruin your life. It was a frivolous waste of time. I’m sorry you went through that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Walk in clinics are so awful, generally speaking. I had a patient that had gone twice with the complaint of ear pain and was told she otitis media and then otitis externa. It was a florescent pink bead. Seriously. That being said, I don’t understand why your pedi didn’t call in the higher dose for you? Why you couldn’t call and say “It’s back!” and have them take care of it, avoiding the walk-in clinic all together?


  17. Since negative online reviews are almost always purely subjective and damaging a reputation or business with malice is the usual intent, they have to be taken with a grain of salt by people who are honesty looking for a good doctor or any other service.

    I know it’s hard not to take negativity personally, we all do it to a degree. It’s important to remember however, that there will always be haters we can’t control, discerning potential customers/patients can tell who they are by their reviews.

    I am starting to become a big fan of your blog, btw, you’re a great story teller.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Wow. You’re brave to share this. Your blog fascinates me since its the only place I hear from the doctor’s point of view. Most doctors I’ve met are wonderful, thoughtful, intelligent people, but there aren’t many glimpses behind the professional persona. I can see how some patients would make your job very difficult.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. You did the right thing, and you can’t second guess yourself. There are vindictive a-holes out there who would be happy to rent space in your head. You’ve got to raise the rent and kick them out. In the end, they usually get pissy and mouth off to the review board and on the on-line forums enough so that everyone knows they are lunatics.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I just went to the hospital yesterday for my anxiety. The doctor gave me five 1mg xanax, prescribed to take over 5 days. I was elated. I don’t even plan on taking them over the 5 days; only when absolutely needed. I didn’t expect more than that, as I have an appointment with my psych at the end of January (and am trying to get in sooner) and hopefully can figure something out with him. I’m happy I got anything at all — I was half expecting them to say they couldn’t help me.

    That situation must have sucked for you! I’m sorry=[

    Liked by 1 person

  21. It is such a shame that professionals have to go thru this. This is almost right out of a movie script. As you say, you are presumed guilty until proven otherwise. You never know when you’re about to get a crazy person in your office who will just ruin your life or even six months of it.

    Liked by 1 person

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