When I was pregnant with my oldest, I started contracting at about 24 weeks. I called my doctor's office first thing on Friday morning to report that I'd had contractions during the night, expecting to be told to come in immediately. Instead, I was told that I was probably having Braxton-Hicks, and to stay off my feet all weekend and notify the office if anything changed. I KNEW better, but was told what I wanted to hear, so I listened.
When I called out sick for the weekend, my boss had a fit that I was not being seen. By Monday, I was contracting again, so the doc could no longer ignore me. You guessed it...I was effaced and dilated and got my first taste of MgSO4. Probably would have been a whole lot easier to control my labor if it had been treated promptly.
4 weeks later, home on meds and monitors, I had an impressive run of contractions that was reported to the same doc by my home health nurse. Doc failed to return phone calls for several hours, at which time the home care nurse finally paged another doc in the practice. I was admitted, and had advanced from 1cm to 4cm with a +2 station. I am convinced that I would have delivered that night had the nurse not contacted another doc.
I would document phone contact every 1/2 hour, go up the chain of command thru the nursing supervisor and medical staff, and encourage the patient/family to contact the physician as well.
The potential risks to a preemie posed by a physician who is unwilling to evaluate his/her own patient are enormous. It is necessary to place that responsibility squarely in the physician's lap. If he doesn't want to be bothered by inconvenient calls, he can always take up dermatology.