Tuesday, January 17, 2017

#1: The Late Doctor

Q - Dr. Tumoriffic, why does my primary care doctor always run late?
A - Good question! It is entirely possible that your doctor may be dead. Doctors have been known to practice medicine for up to 3 days after death, but at a rapidly declining pace. Be sure to check your doctor's pulse if they are behind.

On the other hand, most healthcare employers give a doctor between 10 and 20 minutes to perform all tasks relating to a visit. That may include reviewing your chart prior to seeing you, listening to your problem, examining you, coming up with a diagnosis and plan, ordering prescriptions, tests, and consults, and recording and billing for the whole event. This leads to pile-ups.

The time limit is easy when the patient is a healthy 23-year-old with runny nose, but what if the patient is a slightly demented, hard-of-hearing, lonely, talkative, 87-year-old with uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, emphysema, bad arthritis, anxiety, gout, and stage 3 kidney failure? Perhaps they came in for insomnia but have a urinary tract infection, and fell recently, and gets numbness and tingling in their left hand, and, "hey, doc, before you go, did I mention the crushing chest pain I get when I climb stairs?" This is not an exaggeration, and this is not based on a single patient. Many primary care doctors have patients like this coming out of their ears. (No, not literally. Don't go there.) Not only is it possible that this type of patient is the one before you, it is possible that there have been three of this type of patient before you.

And don't blame those patients either. According to the geniuses in the insurance companies and healthcare corporations, a doctor should only take care of a couple of problems per visit, and if the patient has more than that, they should just invite their complicated patients to come in again and again. But, when you're old and sick, it's an all-day process to arrange a ride, put yourself together, and go to the doctor. And, on a fixed income, even a small co-pay may be daunting, so they may not be able to come back tomorrow, and so on. . .

Or, your doctor might just have a bad case of diarrhea.

A photo completely unrelated to the above:

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