Saturday, July 12, 2008

In between patients

I was just sitting down for a moment at my desk waiting for the next patient to arrive and it occurred to me that I am a lucky man. It is a Saturday and I am working just until noon today. A lot of folks ask me if I hate having to come in and work on the weekend. I don't because of the people I get to work with. I have found that over the years I have made a multitude of friends who just happen to be patients as well. They come in all shapes and sizes with differing afflictions and a commonality in that they all came too me seeking help. They have referred their families and friends and now as they are in the maintenance phases of their care make a visit every so often on a Saturday morning.

I actually look forward to Saturdays at the office when I get to treat and reconnect with old friends. I am not too sure that sort of thing exists in medicine as prominently as it might have in the past. Doctors are pushed to the extremes and don't have as much time to linger with their patients and develop a friendship. I often ask patients if they have a familiar relationship with their primary care or family physicians and answers in the affirmative are becoming slim. I ask occasionally because of our inability to write scrips for medicines that I feel may help a patient with a symptom of issue that is hindering our care. It would be nice if patients had relationships with their family physicians that allowed them to call and say something like,"My chiropractor asked me to call you and tell you that he thinks I have condition ABC because of these three things that he found when he checked me out today and he wondered if it would be possible to have you consider prescribing drug X to help combat that." As is now normal, the doctor almost always says that he or she would need to see the patient first and the first available time they could do that would be in about a month. That is provided, that they actually got to speak to the doctor personally which, as you all know, is a fleeting if not an altogether lost cause.

My sense is that this will only worsen as time passes and as we shift to a socialized for of health care delivery. Be careful what you vote for.

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