“Remember, that meeting is at noon today,” the IM from my office manager read.
“Meeting?” I typed back. I flipped to my Outlook calendar.
It wasn’t there.
“Yes, THE meeting…,” the window popped up on my screen again.
The patient on the exam table was telling me a long story about the death of his childhood dog. I nodded and made a sympathetic sound as he got to the really sad part. I had heard it a few times before…
“The one where they don’t want us to be working on our computers, the one where we are supposed to provide our undivided attention?” There were fifty-two items on my EHR’s virtual desktop right now with a full schedule the rest of the morning and a lunch appointment with a friend.
A bright spot appeared suddenly in my field of vision. Like I had stared at the sun for far too long. But it was not going away, the sun was not visible, and I had not been around any flash bulbs or used the ophthalmoscope on the wall.
I blinked a few times.
Still there. I sighed.
“That’s the one. And have you RSVP’d for the Saturday meeting?” he responded.
“I’m not going.”
“You know that it is strongly encouraged and if you don’t go you have to email an adequate excuse to the system president.”
The scintillating pattern started to develop further and wind its way across my field of vision. It was a struggle to type without errors.
“I am not going.” I typed again and hit send.
“Are you serious?” he responded. I shifted my eyes around and moved my head a bit to see his words around the growing hole in my vision.
“Yes,” I typed back then realized the patient was quiet, waiting expectantly.
I thanked the gentleman for telling me the story and quickly entered orders on his chart in case the ocular migraine was going to get worse before it got better.
An IM flashed from the front desk flashed up to say that my 9:30 patient was 20 minutes late for their physical exam appointment and could I still see them? The rule is 15 minutes late you reschedule unless there are extenuating circumstances. They shouldn’t even be asking.
“Please have them reschedule.” I was already running behind because my 8AM had arrived ten minutes late.
“I see you are needing a tetanus booster. Can I give that to you today?”
I sent an IM to my medical assistant to alert her to give him the immunization.
Once that was addressed I did a quick exam.
Luckily, you don’t have to see well to be able to listen to someone’s heart and lungs.
“We are going to change your blood pressure medication, increasing the dose. Schedule a follow up for one month but if you can call me with some home blood pressure readings in a week or two I can adjust the meds further if needed and get this controlled faster, saving you an extra visit down the road. Got it?”
“Sure thing, Doc!” He grinned.
I almost missed his hand when he reached out to shake mine, then I dashed out of the room.
My office manager was standing outside at the nurses’ station waiting for me, arms folded across his chest.
“They rescheduled the meeting to next week.”
“So mark your calendar right now…”
It isn’t enough that I touch an average of 110-170 documents in the electronic health record per day. Or that I get from 20-50 emails per day (half of those are about various EHR systems that are not working properly that day or about our numbers for this measure or that measure). Or that I address countless IMs from various staff members throughout the day. I have the attention span of a flea nowadays and THEY made me this way. Now I have sit through hours and hours of meetings “paying attention”to stuff I really don’t care about anyway? I am not sure I can do that without being medicated.
I really, really don’t want to do that.
If brains on video games are remodeled, what happens to brains on EHRs, I wonder?
Is all of this why my ocular migraines are back?