Just stop!

Is stupidity contagious?  I dealt with 2 very stupid people this morning and now it seems that everything I do is getting messed up and I am zoning out.  It has to have something to do with them!

Most of you know I work as support staff in microbiology research. I have just “volunteered” to take on a new faculty member. Mostly because what he does is a bit different from my other faculty members, so it is nice to be working on something new.

This morning I received a call from him. He said that the phone call he was receiving had a bunch of strange beeping and they were calling over and over again. I told him it sounds like a fax trying to get through and explained to him how to transfer the call to our fax machine. Soon after that he called us in the office and explained that he would be forwarding all his calls to me today and I could deal with them and page him if they were important. This hasn’t been typical thus far so I assumed the fax attempt really upset his day (as I know, it has happened to me more than once!) So, in interest of his sanity, and now mine since all his calls were forwarded to me, I decided to take a look at the fax and try to call the faxor (is that a word? faxor/faxee 😉 ) so that they could update their records. Sounds logical up to now right?

Here is where it starts to get fun. The fax that I took out of the machine was patient information, and did not have anything to do with my faculty member, nor with any doc at our university. This was an insurance company looking to get more info to deny or approve someone’s claim. But keep in mind, it has NOTHING to do with us. So, here I am thinking I am doing the company a good deed by calling them and letting them know that the patient info did not get to the right place thus making it terribly difficult for the doc they are looking for to give additional information. I also want the patient to have her claim properly taken care of rather than falling into the abyss of a clerical error. Furthermore, I want to save myself a headache in the future. Finally I think that by doing this I am abiding by HIPAA guidelines, as no one wants patient info just floating around.

So I call their 888 number. I get a rep on the line. I explain the situation and let her know why I am calling. I ask her to update her records. She says she needs a tax ID number. I say, I don’t have that to give you. She says, “Well I cannot update the records if I don’t have a tax ID number.” I ask, where on the paperwork would I find this? She tells me I should just know it. I explain that there is no way for me to know it as this is not something that should be coming to us. I tell her that I have all the patient information in my hot little hands and am more than willing to give her that so she can look up the patient and find out where this was supposed to go to. She does so. She then again asks me for the Tax ID. I again tell her that I do not have that info, as this fax was not supposed to come to us, and that the doc it looks like it is supposed to go to does not work here. I ask if there is someone else to speak to since I am going around in circles. She transfers me to a customer service rep.

I am forced to again explain situation and literally “wash, rinse, repeat.” Now I am upset. I have spent probably 10 minutes on the phone at this point, trying to do THEM a favor and no one can understand what I am telling them. I do not raise my voice but I swear I start to talk sooooo fast when I am getting annoyed. So he asks me for the tax ID for the 5th time and tells me that if I don’t have it, perhaps I can call someone who does. I say to him “I do not know the tax ID, I can’t give you a tax ID, and if I did have a tax ID, it won’t help you because it came to a university that doesn’t have the doc it is supposed to go to, so our tax ID would not be their tax ID and won’t help you update their database. I do have ALL the patient information, look it up that way.” Response? “I cannot update our database without a tax ID.” *sigh* “OK” I say, “Look, I am trying to do you a favor, and the patient a favor. If you don’t want to try to help me that is fine. Please take a note that this patient’s info did not get to where it was supposed to go. Perhaps someone from your end can look up where it is supposed to go because I really don’t think that is my responsibility, as this was not ever supposed to get to me in the first place. All I am trying to do is let you know that you have a wrong number.” He says “Well, you may get the call again, since you won’t give me the tax ID number.” *deep sigh* Whatever, I have already wasted 20 minutes of my morning trying to do a good deed and save myself some heartache. If they don’t want to listen, there isn’t much I can do about it. I hung up.

I hung up to the uproarious laughter of my coworkers who were apprentely enjoying their morning entertainment very much. They thought it amazing that I didn’t raise my voice. I assure you this guy knew how angry and frustrated I was getting even without raising my voice!