* * Anonymous Doc

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I have a new patient whose son is a doctor.

I should be sympathetic, since I was in the same position when my father was sick.

It's hard to be on the other side.

It's also extremely aggravating to be the doctor and feel like you're being watched like a hawk by the patient's family, second-guessed about everything you're doing, and criticized for things they should know are entirely out of your control.

We took the patient for a test and we were waiting for the results to come back. Every five minutes, he's hovering at the nurse's station-- "did the results come back yet?" "have you checked again for the results?" "can I see the results yet?" "you're not forgetting about my mother, are you?"

No, the results didn't come back yet. I have other patients to deal with as well. And how could I forget about your mother when you're reminding me every thirty seconds that she exists.

I understand that you're worried, I understand that you want to be the one in control, I understand that you're anxious and just trying to do what's best for her-- but wait until I'm actually doing something wrong before you pounce, okay? Wait until I give you a reason to think I don't know what I'm talking about, or she's getting the wrong treatment, or there's something you would do differently.

I don't pretend I'm perfect-- I'm far from perfect, I have very little clue what I'm doing most of the time-- and I'd be happy to have this guy look at his mother's lab results, I'm happy to have him as involved in her care as he wants to be, as long as he's able to work with us in a reasonable way. But I have enough people pulling at me that to have this guy hovering makes it impossible to think. I absolutely want buy-in from him about his mother's treatment, I want him 100% on board with whatever we're doing, we're all working for the same goal, we all want her to get better. It's just hard not to want to shut him out when he seems hell-bent on "catching" me doing something wrong, or on fighting against anything I say. I can't make the test results come back any faster. He should know that. I'm sure he deals with it every day in his own practice. I can't make symptoms magically resolve, I can't make her magically get better. I can only do what I can do, and he should know better than most of these patients what we can and can't do. I know he means well. I just want to punch him, that's all.

1 comment:

  1. One of the things I love about reading your blog, is the reminder that the IT industry isn't the only ones experiencing these things.

    "We need to order this part, it'll be at least a week before we can fix it."
    "Ok, fine."

    Two hours later, the phone rings again.
    "So, have you fixed by problem yet?"
    "We're still waiting for that part, which will be in NEXT WEEK."
    "Oh. Ok."

    Next morning, an e-mail goes to the mayor with copy to the IT department, that "I reported a problem to the IT department, but they haven't done anything yet."