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    What to do when the clinic has taken you hostage

    Remedy dysfunctional clinic environment by directly addressing common complaints

    “Hostage: One that is involuntarily controlled by an outside influence”

    —Merriam-Webster

    GravesOne of the joys of teaching at the annual meeting of the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery (ASCRS) or American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) is having the opportunity to meet so many other managers and administrators and talk with them about what is happening in their offices.

    I am always able to glean ideas from them that I can bring back to potentially help improve what we are doing in our office. 

    Sometimes, the conversations are uplifting and humorous. Other times, they are very serious and complex, regarding changes to insurances, billing, meaningful use, or how their physicians are handling governmental mandates. Then, there are the discussions that hit home—discussions about staff, hiring/firing practices, and the overall health of the clinic.

    Each year the conversations seem to have a theme, whether that be relationships in the clinic that are damaging teamwork, ethical dilemmas regarding salaries, discipline and human resource issues, or, how groups staff the clinics. Do they have individual technicians for each physician or do all the technicians see all the patients for every physician regardless of which physician the patient is coming to see?

    This year’s overwhelming discussion was different from past years, but every time someone asked to speak to me after a class, the discussion had a similar, desperate tone.

    “Help me! My office is holding me hostage!” said multiple managers, physicians, and even one chief executive officer. The stories ran the gambit of salary issues, the inability to find qualified staff, and issues with administrators running amok. Lastly, the topic turned to “scary techs.”

    Do you ever have that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that your clinic, or you in particular, might be in line to being held hostage?

    Have you thought about it?

    And if you are sure you are not being held hostage at this time, do you know what the signs and symptoms are? And can it be turned around before it happens to you?

    3 common complaints

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