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What Some Patients Will Do For Drugs: A Strange Phone Call Late At Night

9:00 pm:

Hello. It’s Mrs. Mumbledimumbler; I need the doctor to call me right away. My hip is driving me crazy. Please call me.

I listen to the message three times so I can sort of make out the name. The problem is that even though I think I can understand it, I don’t recognize it at all. But I call her because she said she needed me to call her right away.

Hello. I need you to call me in some tramadol right away.

“What was your name again?”

She repeats it clearly enough for me to confirm that I really don’t recognize it.

“Have I ever seen you in the office?”

No.

Let me get this straight: it’s 9:00 at night and your hip is hurting, so you call a doctor who’s a complete stranger and insist that they call you in a powerful painkiller without ever having seen you, taken your medical history, or examined you? I don’t think so.

“Um, I’m sorry ma’am, but I really can’t do that unless you’re an established patient in my office.”

Oh, okay; never mind.

I suppose I should count my lucky stars that she didn’t want vicodin.

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Dinosaur*

The Natural Evolution Of Science: As Knowledge Grows, Treatments Change

I read with interest a blog post by Robert Krulwich of NPR fame on why there is so much public resistance to accept changes in truth with new scientific discoveries (some of which was new to even me)…

1) Triceratops with their beautifully placed 3 horns is actually the teenage dinosaur version of the adult Torosaurus (who had ugly asymmetric horns). Now… a decision had to be made regarding which name to stick with. Ultimately, “Triceratops” won out, perhaps because of the “Save the Triceratops” Facebook page???

2) The same unfortunately is not true for the Brontosaurus. It was clear that Apatosaurus is the same dinosaur and as such, the “Brontosaurus” name is no more much to the dismay of many lay public… Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Fauquier ENT Blog*

When Patients Have To Remind Doctors About Their Appointments

Like many offices, we have a policy of calling patients to remind them of upcoming appointments, usually one to two days ahead of time. With the advent of our new EMR, we have the option of having the system send them email reminders. The vast majority of folks who’ve received these just love them. But there are still several patients a day who get phone calls.

The other recent change in the office, cutting the staff by 50%, means that my one remaining staffer is the one who makes the calls. She has other stuff to do, though — lots of other stuff, actually — so that she may not get around to these calls until later in the day.

Thank goodness our patients are right on the ball: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Dinosaur*

Verification: The New Scam In Town

There’s a new scam in town.

Company calls over and over again (claiming to be the phone company, actually) just wanting to “verify your address”. Over and over again they get told we aren’t interested, leave us alone, don’t call. Finally, my solitary staffer gets sick of fending them off and goes through their voice activated “address verification”, during which a mechanical voice asks questions, followed by a command to “Say Yes or No, then press the pound key.”

So she goes through the innocuous questions, including her full name, the office address and phone number, plus several iterations of saying “Yes or No, then press pound.” The calls stop; everyone is happy.

Until I get the phone bill six weeks later. Lo and behold, there is an extra $49.99 charge (plus tax) from a company I never heard of. Multiple phone calls reveal it to be a company providing “Internet optimization, web services, and a toll free number,” stuff I neither need nor want. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Dinosaur*

A Family Doctor’s “Footnotes”

Regular readers have heard me rant about the fragmentation of medical care in this country. Each body part not only has its own medical specialist, but in some cases its own allied health profession. Such is the case with the feet.

Doctors of podiatric medicine have to complete a four-year course of study after college, followed by a three-year podiatry residency. At the end of all that, I grant, they are expert in the care and management of complex disorders and conditions of the foot, ankle, and lower leg. I refer to them regularly, especially for stubborn ingrown toenails. (I did indeed learn how to remove offending portions of nail bed, but over the years I’ve gotten away from it.) They fail, though, when they try to extend their reach beyond their grasp, which is the case of the podiatrist above the knees. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Dinosaur*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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