Edit: there is a long response in the comments, and an addendum below)
January 26, 2006
January 26, 2006
Dear Mrs. _________,
This letter is to inform you in writing that this practice will no longer be available to you for health care services 30 days from your receipt of this letter. I am scaling back my practice in order to attend to administrative activities. Therefore, I am asking some of my patients, especially those who are not followed regularly here, to seek care elsewhere. Unfortunately, my two associates here are also quite busy and unable to take additional patients at this time.
I request that you find another primary care physician at your earliest convenience. This practice will remain available to you only for emergencies during the next 30 days. After that time period, please do not call this office for appointments, for refills on medications, with further requests for referrals to other physicians, or any other questions or requests. Any future appointments you may have here have been cancelled.
We will promptly forward your medical records to any new primary care physician you may choose upon written request. My apologies for any inconvenience this may cause you.
I received this on January 30th. I haven't decided whether to be mad, sad or merely shocked, but at present I am all of those. My only sin, as I see it, is that I am hardly ever sick and seldom go to the doctor. Perhaps I am not as much of a cash cow as he would like - so I am being put out to pasture. That's one scenario.
The other, and one I believe to be more likely, is that I am now at the age for Medicare eligibility. Once that happens, doctors may have to compromise on the amount of money they will accept for medical services, which is often less than with conventional insurance policies. I guess it isn't against the law for a doctor to drop a patient when they reach Medicare status, but isn't it a terribly mean-spirited thing to do? Or am I just naive?
About 15 years ago, my primary care doc retired. I had been seeing a gastroenterologist back then, who agreed to act as my primary physician also, and that worked well for the next 10 years, and all I ever needed was the occasional prescription for a sinus infection. Then I was informed that the gastroenterologist was so busy with his specialty that he could no longer act as primary care doc. His office gave me several referrals, and I chose the doc who wrote the letter above. I have been his patient for about 3-4 years now, but I postponed my yearly physical in 2005, and have only been to see him 2-3 times.
This is the doctor who put me on Vioxx for plantar fascitis, in 2004. When I started having symptoms, such as shortness of breath, water-retention and elevated blood pressure, I stopped taking Vioxx on my own, and I had to go on Lasix and potassium, which I am still taking. I am concerned about finding another doctor who will take me as a patient, knowing I have Medicare - and getting in before the prescriptions run out.
This morning I called his office and explained the situation to the receptionist, asking that they see me one last time. She took my number and said that his nurse would call. Later, she left a message; that since my current situation is not an emergency (swollen feet and ankles, which my daughter refers to as "cankles"), therefore they will not see me even one last time. I feel abandoned. Slam, Bam, Thank You, Ma'am.....with not even a goodbye kiss.....[:-/
Note: his office did give me a referral to another practice. I called there today and made an appointment for later in the month. Before that, I called my gastroenterologist's nurse and asked them for referrals, and she left a message later with the names of 3 doctors. One of the referrals was to the doc who just canned me, and the other two do not accept Medicare. I guess I am lucky that at least one of them will accept me.
Thanks for all the comments; seems it really pushes everyone's hot buttons. Maybe reading this will help some of you avoid the same problems in the future.