Friday, August 26, 2005

Doc NOS gets Hosed

When I read a recent NY Times article on long waits and patient horror stories I thought, "that sucks. You shouldn't have had to wait 2 hours to see your doctor, but somethings are unavoidable. I've waited overnight to get on a plane. I've waited for the bus/subway/train. As well as for dates, lunch, drinks, and groceries." And the next thing I thought was, "it doesn't happen to my patients."

Not so fast.

As you could guess, some patients take longer than others. Some are in and out, ask few or no questions, are satisfied with your answers, and leave. Others take longer.

A few mornings ago, I had a longer patient. On a side rant, what is wrong with some people's receptive language? When I ask "When did your pain start?" The answer should not be "You know, the pain is right here, and it burns." Although that is good information, it is not the information I asked for. If you asked me my favorite color, I would not say three. This seems to happen time and time again and it really irks me.

So after the longest time possible, during which time I did uncover when the problem began, I finally got to the point of telling them the diagnosis. Then there were questions. And then I was late.

But when patients leave the office, I'm not done. I have to make sure the paperwork is in order, that the orders are in order, and that my mind is ready to leave the last patient and focus on the next. In all, this takes about 3 minutes.

That left me 10 minutes late for my next patient. And he wasn't taking it. He huffed and he puffed and he blew out a rant. After I said I was sorry (I found out later he'd shown up an hour early, so I'm sure it seemed very late to him), I did tell him that 10 minutes wasn't all that bad, but I was sorry. And when I think about it later, he was right - it sucks.

Dear last patient: this was you and your mind's inability to answer simple question's fault, yet I have to deal with the consequences.

And then it ended. The patient became nice again, and we went on with life.

The problem is that no-one wants me to see them late, but most everyone wants to keep me late. I'm going to have to impose strict time limits. This show will last one half hour, then time to move on.


Blogger marybishop said...

I can't believe anyone would complain about ten minutes...I've waited over an hour...and without grumbling because the receptionist warned us an emergency had developed and appointments were running late.

8:38 AM  
Blogger laurenbove said...

Jeebus...I'd do a happy dance a la Snoopy if it were a mere 10 min. Your patient was grumbly b/c he was early. Not your fault. I'd also add that occasionally HE might need some extra care and time of yours and of course he'd not want to be rushed out the door, now would he?

I can't believe I've found a dr. that cares about the timelyness of his appt.s. Doc. you're too good.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Doc NOS said...

An hour is certainly pushing things - but I've been in a clinic for the not insured where I was running further behind than that - and received exactly no complaints. Then again, literally, beggers cannot be choosers and apparently they are not complainers.

I actually didn't give a shit about time until after residency. Now it hits home because a happy patient who is seen on time - makes my life easier and doesn't sue.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Doctor Disgruntled said...

You are right. On. about nonresponsive language. "How long have you had this problem?"

"My friend thinks it might be a urinary tract infection.

"Maybe I should repeat the question. How long have you had this problem?"

"A long time."

[sound of me smacking my head against the table]

11:13 AM  
Blogger acumamakiki said...

The fact that you are giving your patients that much time is noble Doc. I don't get that when I go to the doctor, my GYN (which is the only doc I've seen of late) is about 10 min. and you can see that she is visibly reaady to go before that.

12:03 PM  

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