When all of your patients are doing okay, there isn't much to write about. As I see more and more of my outpatients, more and more often, I've been noticing there's a big range of home health aide competence, from the ones who barely know their person's name to the ones who take notes, actually pay attention, and act in a warm, caring way toward the patient. I think it's a pretty painful job, being a home health aide, especially to a demented person who doesn't have a non-demented spouse involved as well. It's a lonely job, certainly. And it's very easy to do it poorly, and hard to do it well. If you are an aide, and you're bringing your person to the doctor's office, you should probably clean them a little bit first, brush their teeth, put fresh clothes on them -- or you seem like a bad aide. If you ask questions, especially about medication dosing, you seem like a good aide. If you wait in the waiting room, and act like the doctor's appointment is your time to make a call on your phone, you seem like a very bad aide. If you bring a medication list, you seem like a very good aide.
Actually, it doesn't just apply to aides. If you bring a medication list -- an accurate medication list -- to the doctor visit, you win. The number of people who don't think that knowing what medicine you're taking is a good idea when you visit a doctor for the first time is really staggering. If I could pass one health care related edict, I think it would be that people should be mandated to bring medication lists everywhere they go. And if you've typed up a list of your medical conditions, surgeries, hospitalizations, names and phone numbers of the other doctors you see -- well, I want to give you a lollipop, because you are making your doctor's job a lot easier, and increasing the odds that you get decent medical care.
Also, if you're not the patient -- and you'd be surprised how often this happens -- if you're not the patient, I don't want to take your blood pressure, or weigh you, or answer your own medical questions. Home health aide, if you need someone to listen to your cough, make an appointment with a doctor for yourself. Spouse who is not my patient, please don't ask me to check your blood sugar. And no one is getting a medication refill except the patient I'm actually seeing. That means your sister, in another state, no -- I'm not calling in her refill, not even if you put her on speakerphone.