Consulted

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“Doc! Before we get your kids, I wanted to talk to you about something…”

The woman pulled me from the front office to one of the side classrooms and proceeded to tell me about the pelvic pain she had experienced since the C-section delivery of her last child a year ago.

“I went to my OB/gyn and all she could say after an ultrasound and CT scan was that she didn’t know what was causing it!” She rolled her eyes. “I am so tired of doctors who don’t know anything. I need for you to tell me what it is. I know I am not your patient but I thought you might have a better idea.”

I just stared, my mind racing. What? I needed to get my kids and get back to the office. I had a patient I had not wrapped up yet who was getting an X-ray…

Quickly I told her that often these things are diagnosed as a process of ruling out things one by one which can be frustrating but it is important nonetheless. Since it was clearly not a gyn cause, she needed to make an appointment with her primary care doctor to look at other causes. 

She was not happy. At all.

Back at the front, I was again stopped by another woman.

“Doc, before I call for your kids this other teacher wanted you to call her.” She pushed a torn piece of notebook paper toward me. The name Ms. Smith and a phone number had been scrawled across it in blue ink. Seriously? She was a preschool teacher but did not have any of my kids in her class.

I stood there and dialed the number on my cell. I waited, growing more impatient as it rang and rang. The X-ray was probably done by now…

“Hello, Doc!” She finally answered. “Thanks for calling me. I had a question about my daughter. I know she isn’t a patient of yours yet, but I was going to bring her in soon…” 

She then proceeded to tell me that her daughter had developed neck pain earlier that day. Worried about meningitis because she read on the internet once that it could cause neck pain, she had taken the girl to an acute care facility (read doc-in-a-box). There they did a chest X-ray for some reason and told mom that her three year old kiddo had pneumonia.

“Did she have a cough or fevers or headache or runny nose?”

“Nope. And the neck pain is completely gone now, too. So my question is, do I give her the antibiotics?”

Was she really intending to bring her child to me soon? Or was she just blowing smoke? Do I even want to have her as a patient? 

“Did you call her primary care doctor to ask them?”

“Well, no…”

“You should.” I wished her well, then turned to the woman who had been standing there listening intently to the conversation. “Could I please have my children now?”

She looked surprised, then seemed to remember. “Oh, sure…. Ok.”

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121 thoughts on “Consulted

  1. I have never lived in a world, in my head, where that kind of thing is just done. These are educated people doing this, too. Unreal. You handled it well. And gave another example of why I’m a misanthrope.

    Liked by 1 person

      • So what do you think doc? Is it cancer? It’s the color of mole sauce. On a serious note, as you know I retired from the human resource field and I have people approach me about employment law a lot. Mostly they want to know if they can sue. I ask if they’ve seen a lawyer. They tell me they want to talk to me first before spending money. Argh! Each profession gets it but doctors more so because EVERYONE knows you are one.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You are absolutely right that every profession has this sort of thing. In my case, they can also sue ME for anything I say that causes harm. (Mole sauce made me laugh! I love your sense of humor!)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Have a pad of ‘tear off and leave’ “bills” handy so that after the unofficial and uncalled for consult you can quietly hand this ‘patient’ their bill, smile and walk away.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I understand people get panicky but you also have to respect the fact that something’s need to be handled professionally and with the proper amount of information and examination. I know this happens but I can’t imagine it being done and how I would react in your situation. You handled it very well .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I would be too terrified to do it myself. I have the cell phone numbers of my kids doctors, tons of specialists…. I am too much of a coward to use them, even though I know I could!

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  4. So many people are outright inconsiderate. The nerve of these people taking it for granted just because you are a physician you will stop YOUR LIFE for them, even though they are not in your office. *rolling eyes* I think you need to have a customed made necklace that says, “OFF DUTY” in BOLD lettering. When approached with this necklace on, you point to it, and keep on walkiing. You deserve a PRIVATE life too! Geesh! (((HUGS))) Amy ❀

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ah, but sometimes the shoe is on the other foot. After my husband had double-hernia surgery, the surgeon came to the waiting room. Knowing I work in a law firm, he proceeded to tell me about his impending divorce (he was quite upset – made me wonder about his surgical skills). I had to tell him I had no experience in matrimonial law.

    Years later, when I was in the hospital myself and undergoing insertion of a PIC line, the doctor began asking me questions about the steps involved in transferring a piece of real estate he owns. But at least, he didn’t seem to be distracted by the conversation, and it took my mind off what was being done. And I did gain a new client for my firm. (Who I avoided as much as possible ’cause, after all, he had seen me nearly naked.)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. That’s a pain in the ass Victo. It really is hard to say anything because you want to keep a good relationship with your kids’ school – and I’m sure it happens elsewhere too. I guess all you can do is take it as a compliment – that they trust your judgement- and go from there.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I hear ya. My husband, who’s a retired dentist now, used to get stopped by people when he was at the grocery store, etc. Usually they were patients who didn’t want to be bothered to come into the office. The flip side of that, though, is when we were out socially and someone would ask him what he did for a living. When he said “I’m a dentist” they would often recoil and say “I just HATE dentists!” After a while it gets to you. I told him he should tell them he’s a mortician. That would have ended it right there. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  8. A lot of issues there – lack of confidenciality, continuity, you’re not their primary care giver, it’s out side the office – there’s a lot of ethical issues. I don’t think people realize the situation they’ve put you in. How can they expect you to diagnose without a history and testing, etc. You handled it well.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Grrrr. I’m outraged. I especially like the implication that the other doctors are idiots. Why will people take advice from random strangers (you of course are an educated random physician) but not listen to the physician that did the exam, interpreted the tests and spoke to them in consultation.? Maybe we should blame ourselves for not communicating well in the examine room but this behavior is so common that I think patients have to take some responsibility too. They don’t listen or follow through.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What should have happened in the case of the kiddo is that mom should have asked the physician if the X-ray was even indicated in the first place, and then if the treatment was really necessary. So many patients don’t feel empowered to ask questions. Some of that is a physician problem, and some of that, yes, is the patient’s issue…..

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  10. This is outrageous. Seriously. Everyone needs time off/out or they burn up. I am reminded of Jesus (as you do), having people grabbing at his dress shouting “cure me, cure me!!” (if someone has already been here and mentioned Jesus I apologise for not reading their comment *laughs*), being made to feel guilty after all the hard work you do is the limit. You handled the situations, as ever, very well indeed mind you.

    – sonmi upon the Cloud

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I just had a giggle. You could pull out your prescription pad write on it, talk to your family doctor. Fold it and hand to them. Walk away while they open it. Hee hee. Sorry people are so inconsiderate.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This is such a cliche. This is no better than cornering a physician at a party and asking for a diagnosis for your sore elbow. The equivalent for me would be if someone pulled out a piece of marketing material and asked my opinion of the design and layout. We NEVER get that sort of question.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Well, I’ve had people ask me random medical questions, but always people I know, and usually something really innocent like: “my son got this cut on his forehead, should we get stitches?” Or “I have this pain, is it something I should go see my doctor about/go to emergency/ignore…?” I think access to free health care makes a big difference. (And maybe we are a little nicer in Canada…)

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Aw, a day in the life of a doctor! I’m guilty of something similar, but with my close friends- who are doctors, lawyers, accountants, experts, in other fields… and they pay me in kind, seeking my recommendation and/or assistance when they have issues in my field of expertise. But we are close, and we know anything substantial requires paid consultation.

    It seems we’re always looking for ‘free’ advice… πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: My Article Read (5-26-2015) (5-27-2015) | My Daily Musing

    • Oh, I am very, very good at swearing. πŸ˜‰ I have had to dial it back some now that I have kids. I am not *sure* that when my son got in trouble for using the word “damn” at school that it was my fault but it is possible… Aussie swear words are probably a helluva lot more creative!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. You poor thing. It sounds like they were holding your kids hostage or holding you hostage. I find it amazing that people will divulge their complete medical history to anyone, whether they know them or not, just because they are a doctor not their doctor, or because they pick you pick up the phone when they call the hospital. Then they rage about their privacy and live in constant fear of the medical records being hacked online.

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