Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Paramedical - The Fun Continues

Unfortunately, round two with my wife, completing her paramedical exam went no better. The company thought they would expedite my wife getting this done, by letting her have her blood drawn in the health care facility she works in, and told her they’d pick up the specimens there mid-morning. This way she didn’t have to reschedule, and she’d be able to use a competent lab tech. Yet an hour after the scheduled “pick-up” no one had arrived. During her lunch my wife spent time on the phone, trying to find out what happened, and so did her insurance agent. After these phone conversations, my wife was assured the pick up would happen shortly after noon. She had high hopes when she got a call asking about her location. However, an hour later still no one was there to take care of this.

My wife called back the person who’d promised to be there shortly, since she had the number now logged into her cell phone. She reached another staff member, who said that the original person was on the phone. Several minutes later, hold time, and another call back, my wife was informed of a new person who was “on her way, and is a lot closer to you.” When that person hadn’t arrived another 20 minutes later, my wife was getting frantic, because originally they’d told her if they arrived right away they could “save the specimens”. They hadn’t been refrigerated, as it was expected they would have been picked up that morning. It was now mid-afternoon. My wife called yet once again, and the person she’d talked to earlier asked in a surprised voice, “Isn’t Paul there yet?” “No” came my wife’s irritated voice. So, she was told they’d call and check on arrival time. They ask for my wife’s phone # again, which she’d left them several times already. After being on hold another few minutes, they came back on the phone and said quite confidently, “Oh, Paul is finishing up at another client’s office, and will be coming to you next.” [I ask you, why is Paul at another client’s office, when he was supposed to be coming to pick up those specimens immediately??!]

Shortly, she received a call from Paul. You will not believe the conversation—it went something like this: “Hi. I need to pick up your specimens tomorrow morning, so I need to know your address.” Incredulous at this point, my wife blurts out, with all the control in her voice she can muster, “WHAT? I just got off the phone with your manager about an hour ago, who said she was coming right over. I haven’t refrigerated or centrifuged any of this, which is what you guys were so worried about when I spoke to you just after noon. I need you to come pick up these specimens now!” Paul replied calmly, “Well, I’m already at home with my family and would have to bring all of them with me; it would be better to just come get it tomorrow .” After receiving instruction on how to save the specimens, Paul reminded my wife how important refrigeration was once again. Finally, the comment, “I don’t know how you got roped into this mess anyway. Someone should have come to your house, spent less than 15 minutes with you, and you shouldn’t have had to do anything with any of this yourself anyway.” Pleased with himself and without a second thought, Paul said he’d see my wife the next day “and we will get this all taken care of for you.”

When my wife obediently headed for the refrigerator, she discovered that there was no room for her “collection” in the lab refrigerator; the only cold storage left was the lunchroom frig. Sure hope no one goes looking for a snack. L

(names changed for obvious reasons)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you posted this because everyone, from life insurance carriers all the way down to applicants and examiners, need to be made aware of how the paramedical exam business really works.

I would suggest going to http://www.paramedicalexaminersanonymous.com to get some real eye-opening commentary about the inner workings of the paramedical exam industry. Especially newcomers or those thinking about becoming an examiner. I also recommend checking out http://www.nascpe.com if you're an examiner.

As someone already mentioned this is piece-work business, so it's all about volume; how many exams you can do in the least amount of time possible. Nobody wants to think such things exist in relation to medical work but it's absolutely true in the exam business and it's the only way to have any hope of making more than minimum wage.

It has also become a very cutthroat business. The insurance companies constantly cut the pay rates. The exam companies undercut each other's pricing, driving pay even lower, and offer more services (at the examiner's expense) without an increase in pay. Most examiners today are paid less than what the rates were when I started in 1988 when gas cost about 85 cents a gallon.

It's a job that can be made to look very attractive; be your own boss, set your own hours, get paid $20 for 15 minutes of work, etc. In reality, though, none of those things turn out to be true. The 15 minutes of work actually averages out to 90 - 120 minutes when you take into account travel time and the work that is done before and after the "15 minute" appointment. Fuel expenses are the examiner's responsibility, as is wear and tear on their vehicle. Penalties for even minor errors can exceed the amount the service pays, and just about every labor law on the books is routinely broken because examiners are considered to be independent contractors. Exam companies threaten and coerce examiners into doing work for free, and many require examiners to commit blocks of time to be available for work but without any guarantee that they will actually get any work.

The list goes on and on. It's not a good job choice for those who are easily intimidated or those who are afraid of confrontation or criticism. And it has absolutely become a "you get what you pay for" kind of business. Which, in my opinion, is unavoidable and appropriate when employers make all the money and leave their workers to fight among themselves for the crumbs that fall off the table.

5:41 AM, June 29, 2013  

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