Saturday, December 6, 2008

All the Manipulation That's Fit To Print

Elizabeth Cohen needs to lose her "medical correspondent" status STAT.  Your ER Doc pointed to this article on CNN's website about how to manipulate your way in to see the doctor.

Starting with some heartstring tugging story - complete with photograph - of a woman who hit her head and was told by the ER to see her PCP, but she couldn't get in for a week, it goes on to list some ideas for getting in faster:

1. Harrassment is a great way to make your doctor slink further away from the community.  Because lawyers haven't done enough of that already.

2. It's not really a lie if it's sort of true.  Right?  Like, you remember that boy who cried wolf?  Well maybe there was sort of a wolf.  Right?

3. Make friends and influence people.

4. This one is actually good advice... as long as you are considerate with how you use cancellations.

5. Are you kidding me?  Are you freaking kidding me?  No, seriously, are you kidding me?  Please see number 3... multiplied times 50.

I love it when our illustrious news media tries to help out by encouraging deception, manipulation and harrassment.

Here are a few random thoughts:
  • If your throat really does feel like it is closing, then please get to the nearest phone and call 911.  That is a true emergency and you shouldn't be seeing your doctor anyway.
  • Your manipulation may get you in to be seen sooner, but at what cost to your future credibility?
  • Note that the woman in the article is bemoaning not being able to get in to see an internist.  Perhaps she could have tried to see a general practitioner.  I don't know about where she lives, but the family practice clinic I go to has several doctors in the office and almost without fail I can get an appointment to be seen within a day or sometimes two.
  • Group practices are great.  I used to work in a very large group practice as an LPN, and while it certainly had its flaws, I think we delivered good care, and as a patient in that practice, I received good and timely care.
  • As an ER nurse, believe me that I don't want all these patients spilling out the door of the doctor's office and into my back yard, but if your ailment is so serious that you need to be seen right away, then you may need an Urgent Care or ER visit.  If it is the result of not planning ahead on your part, then suck it up.
  • If your doctor really is that busy, then find another doctor.  Nobody is forcing you to go to that one.  This is the beauty of the free market system.
  • If you think this is bad, just wait until you are assigned to a doctor and that doctor is allotted a certain amount of money and no more.
A few gems from the comment section.  These are the ones who really get it - the people who have their finger on the proverbial pulse of true entitlement thinking:
  • "I am tired of hearing how "busy" the doctor's are. They should behave in a more professional manner and never make the consumer feel like a "bother" or a "nusiance"."
  • "When patients (an apt term) need to be their own advocates because a physician, hospital, or other healthcare provider can't be bothered, something is definitely wrong."  That's right.  How dare they make me advocate for myself! Something is seriously wrong when the doctor can't even care enough to squeeze me in on his lunch break.  What's he doing taking a lunch
    break, anyway?  How can he even think about food when there are sick people out there?
  • "there is no reason I have to walk around for weeks with coughs, pains, dizziness or other minor ailments, feeling miserable and troubling the people around me."
And finally the commenter that just doesn't seem to understand.  Hey guy, these patients are entitled, and how dare you suggest that they might need to accept that there are other people on the planet:
  • "If you 'exaggerate' and say your throat is closing when you have a regular sore throat and get in sooner, what happens to the people who really are having a true emergency?"
In the end, I understand that there really is a growing problem with access to doctors, and it is one that needs to be addressed, and I think is being addressed in many ways.  It can be frustrating when you are in pain and need to get in and are having a hard time finding an appointment.  My heart goes out to you, it really does (despite my sarcasm earlier in the post), but lying and manipulation and other dangerous and antisocial behaviors are not the solution, and shame on you, Ms Cohen, for being willing to spread such ideas.


Epijunky said...


I mean really. Call a TV station? If I were a Doctor with a patient who called a TV station because I couldn't get them in I'd drop them from my practice immediately.

The only point I completely agree with would be calling first thing in the morning.

Braden said...

Yes, unless you really don't think you will be going in and you are only calling first thing in the morning "just in case" and so the next patient has to end up calling the TV station.

These doctors and their "busy" schedules! What are they doing? Seeing patients? Hah!

Gina said...

As someone not in the medical profession...strictly a patient...I would like to tell some people to suck it up. Especially when it comes to things like sore throats and tummy aches. Sometimes things are caused by poor diet, not enough sleep, stress, or are just a virus, and frankly, there's nothing a doctor can do for you that you can't do for yourself.

Curdie said...

If this wasn't real it would be funny.