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Help! Jury Duty And Unsympathetic Doctor


jknh9
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I got a summons for jury duty in the mail last week, and I immediately called my cardiologist for a letter to excuse me. I am a fainter and I have my worst episodes when I am forced to sit in one place for a long time. However, I got a voicemail this morning saying that he wouldn't write a letter because there was no "cardiac reason" I couldn't do it and that I was "stable." Well of course I'm stable, otherwise wouldn't I be hospitalized?! The reason I'm doing better these days is because I am not forced to sit for long periods of time, I am not exposed to triggers like fluorescent lights and anxiety-causing situations, I can sleep as late as I need to when I don't feel well, and I can take breaks whenever I need to. I work part-time from home because I cannot physically handle a full-time job and I have a lot of brain fog. If I am forced to sit there from early in the morning until late afternoon, the only thing I will be thinking will be "Please don't let me faint, please let me get through this," not about whatever is going on. When I get even a little stressed, I am exhausted and can do very little afterwards. While it's true that I'm not just lying on the couch all day every day anymore, I do not think I am fit to do this. If I can't even sit through a 3-hour class without fainting or having pre-syncope and getting up every 30 minutes to pee, how am I supposed to do this? Not to mention it's a 30-minute drive from my house. I've been thinking of finding a different doctor anyway because whenever I see him (every 3-6 months) the meeting is 5 minutes TOPS. I wait in the waiting room for up to an hour and then he rushes me out the door. I get that I'm not a triple bypass patient, but I'd like to be taken seriously!

I just needed to vent. I am freaking out about this, which is of course making me feel worse. Has anyone been in this situation? What should I do? :(

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You can ask your PCP for a letter excusing you. But frankly, in my opinion, syncope should definitely be more than enough of a reason for your cardiologist to write the letter. Not trying to tell you what to do or anything but if it was me I'd take it as a big sign that this doctor doesn't understand you, your symptoms, or your condition. GIven this experience and the office visit vibe- if it was me I'd find a new doctor asap.

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A lot of times just calling the court clerk and explaining you situation they will allow you to be excused. If not then ask if they are willing to make the necessary accommodation for you disability and what you would need concerning breaks and etc. You will find they will excuse you quickly without the need of a doctor's note.

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It is concerning that your specialist does not accept your description of your limitations. That sounds like something an insurance company would say, rather than a doctor, quite frankly.

I agree with Robert that generally just a call to the clerk of court may be all you need to do. They want things to go smoothly and someone who might faint while serving would gum up the works. I've served on juries and been called for jury duty many times. They call in many more people than they need with the understanding that some will be unable to serve for all kinds of reasons.

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Thanks so much for the replies, guys. MomtoGiuliana, I agree, it does sound like something that you would hear from insurance. I am going to start searching for a new doctor, but here in the rural south, it's not an easy task. Maybe a neurologist would be better than a cardiologist this time. It's certainly something I need to think about, because, MomtoGiuliana and SpinnyC, you guys have voiced things I've been thinking off and on for a while now.

I will try to appeal to the court directly. I was planning on writing a letter, though, since the form I received said I would need a doctor's note for a physical condition that would prevent me from serving. I just assumed if I called, they would just say "Well then send a doctor's note." I can't say with certainty this would be the case, but you know how these things go. Or maybe I should just show up the first day and explain? The whole thing is just so frustrating.

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I've been summoned twice to serve on a jury before, but wasn't kept for the final pool of jurors the first time. I think being an engineer often gets you excused by one party or the other, haha. The county court is also only 5 minutes from my house, so not too bad. Getting there early AM though was not fun.

The last time I was in a bad flare, and wrote them an explanation (this one was federal and would require a drive of 45 min or more each way, plus the time served). They didn't require a doctor's note, but they excused me from duty. I figure it will be a while before I get asked again, but maybe next time I will be in better shape. Can hope so, anyway!

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I'm absolutely disgusted by this, jknh9. I completely understand why you're so worried,- I would be too :( You've had good advice on here, I really hope it works. Please keep us updated.In the meantime, it does sound like a change of doctor would be a good idea. It sounds like your current one has a lack of manners, let alone empathy!

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I am not sure if it is like in the UK, but when I have been called for jury duty, I fill in the form telling them what I have got, I give a copy of any clinic letter (not a specific Dr.'s letter) which notes my diagnosis, then I ask them if the court will be able to accommodate my needs, then I list my needs for example, need to get up and walk around after 10 minutes to prevent pre- syncope, my need to use the toilet regularly at least 2 times an hour. As yet I have not found that the court can actually meet my needs which is actually quite sad when you think about it!

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Anoj- I did this once, too, when I got summoned while I was living in Ohio. I was a week away from moving overseas, so I wrote a letter and I never heard anything more!

AmberK- Thanks so much for your sympathy and advice. I fear that most doctors are like this, even the ones who have actually heard of POTS/NCS etc. I've never, ever been a patient to raise a fuss or complain to the doctors; in fact I was diagnosed only after strangers called paramedics to take me to get medical attention. I thought that I should only make a fuss when it was really necessary, and it really discourages me that one of the only times I do explicitly ask for help, I get shot down.

anna- That's a good idea. I'm going to request a copy of my medical file from my present doctor anyway to send to the new doctor (whenever I can find one), but that's a great idea to keep that information handy for situations like this.

Well, I typed up a letter yesterday to the court administrator that basically said that I wanted to inform the court of my medical situation before serving, I have POTS, NCS, and panic disorder, which means my heart rate and norepinephrine levels are too high so I may faint, the odds of me fainting are significantly higher when I am forced to sit for long periods of time and if I do faint I will require immediate medical attention, I will need to have a bottle of water or sports drink with me at all times, and I will need to use the restroom approximately every 30-60 minutes. I sent it off this morning, so we'll see what comes of it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just wanted to update this thread for posterity's sake. I wrote the letter and sent it in, but I never heard anything from them. My summons paper said to call in the day before to see if it was still on, so I called in ready to explain my situation, but it was canceled! So I still don't know if the note would have done the trick or not, but I get to stay home and work while lying down, so I'm happy enough :)

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Glad it worked out. I would guess, like most local govt these days, they are under-staffed. Hundreds of people are called for jury duty each month, or more depending on the size of your jurisdiction. I know for a fact they don't want any problems w a juror that could impede a trial, if even at the last minute, a judge would exclude anyone who didn't seem fit for the job.

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Good Luck sweet one. I have been unable to to serve several times due to medical. they have been very understanding. So don't worry anymore about it.

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