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I saw Dr. Berman for a couple of red spots that had suddenly appeared on my legs. Here are my complaints, in bullet form. But to understand why, read the rest.
1. Unprofessional medical advice
2. Misleading billing mechanism
3. Rude billing department
After seeing me, Dr. Berman rushed me out of the office, and said that my best bet is to do UV treatments 3 times a week for 8 weeks, and even then there is a 50/50 chance for the spots to go away. What he did NOT mention was that there is an equal chance that the spots would just go away on their own, or with the user of a cream! Furthermore, he didn't explain what the treatment entails. He said it's a very simple and quick treatment (no mention of side effectes, etc.)
The nurse that accompanied me out asked me whether I want to start with my treatment today. I asked her how much it would be, and she said that it would be free today, but after that there'd be an additional copay of $35 for each treatment. I thought to myself that it would be ridiculous to pay around $800 for something that may or may not work, but since she said that today's treatment would be free, I decided to give it a try to see how much effect I will observe. When I got to the treatment room, she told me to cover my hands and face (she gave me a towel to put on my head!) and she told me not to open my eyes inside the UV machine! WOW there's a machine that I need to go in? No one told me about that! I thought it's just a topical treatment, and not on my whole body! Anyways, I went in, very confused, and came out after a minute. I asked the nurse: "what is this treatment? I wasn't expecting anything like this! Are there any side effects?" and she said no there are no side effects. I asked her why I needed to cover up, and she said because you could get sunburnt! I told her well that means that the side effect is sunburn, and she said yes! This was outrageous, because I had been doing laser treatments (fortunately somewhere else) on my legs, and I should NOT be sunburned (otherwise I would get pigments there). I told her about this, but she didn't seem to care! I asked her if she can give me a brochure on the treatment to get more information, and after a couple minutes of searching she said we don't have a brochure, and told me to just go online and read about it!
Being completely unsatisfied, I left the office and decided that I would not follow up with them. I eventually saw another doctor at Stanford who gave me a cream that I am applying and the red spots are disappearing.
Few weeks go by, and I suddenly get a mail from Berman skin institute, saying that I should pay an additional $11.55 for my UV treatment! I was outraged, because I was told that my first session will be free! So I called the billing department to discuss this issue. The first person I talked to was Julie Bravo, who was very rude and kept on saying that it's not our responsibility, and you should pay! I told her it's not a matter of $11.55, but a matter of ethics. You can't mislead the patients by saying a service is free, and then charge them up, be it $11 or $110 or $1100! She said all she can do is to inform her supervisor, but I have to pay the bill. I asked her to tell her supervisor to call me back. Her supervisor, Rosa Hernandez, called me back and I told her the story again. Her response was that we train our personnel to never use the word "free"! (which is a very weird response!) I told her that I would expect that they'd have some sort of training and educate the personnel about the billing procedure, but I'd also expect that when they don't know about the billing procedure, they would simply say "I don't know"! Rosa kept interrupting me, when I was talking and was EXTREMELY rude. She told me that she would follow up on this and see whether I am right or not, and will give me a call back. I haven't received a call back from her, but I think it's extremely rude and unprofessional of her to accuse me of lying, for $11.55! The time I spent on the phone is definitely worth more than $11.55 and I do not mind paying at all, if it was the right thing to do. The sole reason I gave them a call and am spending all this time with them on the phone is completely ethical: I don't think they should misinform the patients and not take responsibility. This is just wrong!
- her unprofessional behavior, and basically accusing me of lying
- the nurse giving misleading information to me
Waive the charge on my bill ($11.55) in accordance with ethical medical practice.