2009-08-04

Wilmer Eye Institute flunks customer service test (Part 1)

[or . . . "How not to respond to an unhappy customer" . . .]

In response to a complaint that I emailed to Wilmer's director--the email had a link to this post--I received this letter from an executive at Wilmer, Dr. J:
Mr. Greene:

My chairman, Dr. Peter McDonnell, has brought to my attention your discontent with the care that [patient] received from Dr. [B] at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Green Spring Station on [date].
I have read your blog, discussed the visit with Dr. [B], and reviewed the medical record.

It looks to me that Dr. [B] did everything from an ophthalmological standpoint to rule out any serious eye disease.

Evidently, [patient] was eventually diagnosed with Lyme disease, but I am not sure that the diagnosis of Lyme disease would have occurred to any ophthalmologist on the basis of [patient's] symptoms. I personally performed an internet search to see if I could find instances of Lyme disease presenting solely with pain in one eye upon movement, but could not find such an association.


From your blog, it seems that Dr. [B]'s style was not to your liking. Doctors are human and have personalities like everyone else, and not all doctor's styles suit every patient. I sometimes wonder how many patients leave my office upset with something that I may have said, and never let me know. All physicians recognize this and will facilitate a smooth transition to another physician when they are made aware of the concerns. We would be happy to do that in [patient]'s case if you wish and will let us know.


At Wilmer and Johns Hopkins, we are committed to improving the care that we provide, and so value the feedback that people like you give to us. Your comments will become part of our departmental Performance Improvement Program. I pledge that we will try harder to make the diagnoses, think "outside" the box when appropriate, and suggest consultation with other physicians when needed.


Sincerely yours,

Dr. [J]

cc: Peter McDonnell, Chairman, Wilmer Eye Institute ,
[Ms. X], Wilmer Patient Representative
This letter is unsatisfying and wrong-headed in so many ways, I think I'll write about it in some detail. More to come.

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