Thursday, February 28, 2008


That was my day yesterday. A dental cleaning at UCLA School of Dentistry at 1:30 pm followed by a visit to their Dermatology department for an appointment at 3 pm. Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? Think again...

Usually appointments can take up to three hours as the students get faculty to review and sign off on their work every step of the way. But I'd been through a three hour long dental exam where my teeth and gums were tapped, poked and prodded. This was just a cleaning done by a dental hygiene student. Surely I wouldn't be subjected to the same rigmarole . Actually, it was far worse.

I got there early. Explained I had another appointment at 3 pm and sent another hygiene student to fetch mine. That took 5 minutes. Clock ticking, the skittish little student arrived--only to inform me I had a $20 balance on my account. We went to the billing department where we were ignored for several minutes. A staffer printed out the detail of my account and announced that I'd only paid $25 for a $45 cleaning last May. I said I didn't think so. Then after studying my bill for several more precious minutes, she said I'd been charged for the 3 hour dental exam last month. Excuse me, I paid $65 for x-rays for said exam--now they tell me AFTER the fact, that the three excruciating hours I spent being tapped, poked and prodded all in the name of student dentistry. It's not like it was something I signed up for!), the three hours of my life I will never get back, that incurred a charge of $20? I should have charged them for MY time. Net it against the $85. They still owe me $65.

I said I'd get in touch with my dental student and ask her about it. But meanwhile, could we not just get going on the cleaning? The student brought me up to the third floor. Actually, she brought me up to the second floor then looked around lost because her cubicle had been taken, then realized we were on the second and not third floor and then we went up to the third floor. Tick tock. Tick tock. She disappears for ten minutes. Returns with the faculty supervisor who is the smarmiest piece of work you'd ever want to meet so that the faculty supervisor can explain to me that they will not do my cleaning until the $20 charge is paid. And I have to pay in advance for the cleaning. I've been going to UCLA for my dental appointments for THREE years, have always paid the same day I've gotten work done and now I'm being treated like some kind of deadbeat. Lovely.

After contacting my dental student to ask about the charge (she claims it was a "favor"--that usually they charge more for three hour long dental torture sessions. WTF?!!!), I went down to the cashier to pay it. There was a line. Tick tock tick tock. The cashier works like she's in a vat of mud. Sloooooowwwww. After 45 minutes have been wasted, I'm ready to get my cleaning.

But wait--not so fast! The dental hygiene student needs to go over some health questions. These aren't standard yes or no pre-filled form questions. These are inane, unnecessary and highly inappropriate questions prepared especially for me after a thorough study of my records. Questions like "did I eat breakfast this morning?" Now, I know why she asked that. The stupid dental student put a note on my chart requiring that I eat before appointments because I have diabetes. This is because she, being a freaking dental student and not an endocrinologist, is ignorant to the fact that insulins used today don't have the peaks of older insulins and therefore do not require meals. I ignored it at the time not wanting to educate her on subjects that have nothing to do with her field of study. But now I'm faced with dietary interrogation at every appointment.

Even better, the idiot dental hygiene student follows up my "yes" with "what time?" What the fuck is your problem? I ate breakfast--what the hell does the time matter? Then she asks if I've taken my insulin. Of course, asshat. I know how to manage my diabetes. Who put you in charge of it? How much insulin and what time? Seriously--what the fuck does this have to do with getting my teeth cleaned? How would she know what an appropriate dosage of insulin is? Then she asks if I've taken my thyroid medication. OK, enough is enough. There are certain conditions--heart murmurs specifically--that require pre-medication (antibiotics) before treatment. People who require pre-medication generally have that marked in big red letters on their dental records. I can understand checking to make sure these people have taken the appropriate medication. But thyroid meds? What's next? An inquiry as to whether or not I took my vitamins? Ate all my vegetables?

After all the bullshit between the billing snafu and the idiotic questioning (Note to dental hygiene moron: You are not on Grey's Anatomy. Your faculty supervisor isn't going to be all impressed and sleep with you like Preston Burke and Cristina Yang. Get over yourself! You're a freaking hygiene student which means you weren't smart enough to be a dental student. And the dental students are dental students 'cuz they're not smart enough to get into med school! If you were in med school, you might have the right to dive that deep into my medical history. But I wasn't there to have you diagnose me, just clean my freaking teeth!), we ended up with TEN minutes to do the cleaning. She got 1/3 of my teeth scraped before I booked out of there for my dermatology appointment.

Un-fucking-believable the incompetence, unprofessionalism and complete waste of time. For which I was charged $45. Had the dental student properly notified me of the $20 charge at the time it was INCURRED, that would have spared me 45 minutes of agonizing bullshit. And had the moronic dental hygiene student realized I had just undergone an extensive examination, the only question necessary to ask would have been, "Has there been any change in your health since your last visit?" It is not her job to monitor my diabetes control, medication dosages or even my freaking blood pressure (which was sky high not surprisingly...How many of you get your blood pressure taken at the freaking DENTIST?!!!).

It's taken almost 24 hours to calm down--and now I'm getting riled up again just typing this.


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