Musings of a Dinosaur

A Family Doctor in solo private practice; I may be going the way of the dinosaur, but I'm not dead yet.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Appointment Catch-22

Patient is discharged from the hospital and told by the specialist to make a follow-up appointment in 10 days.

Patient calls the specialist's office for an appointment...

and is told that the first available one isn't until August.

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot; over.

Note: The patient is telling me this story two weeks after the hospitalization, presenting for "blood work." What blood work? I ask. Did the doctor give her a slip or requisition or any indication of what blood work he wanted? No. I peruse the discharge summary I have been sent and sure enough, there at the bottom it says, "Comprehensive metabolic profile [actually it just says CMP, but I'm smart enough to know what it means] and magnesium level in two weeks."

"Why does he want a magnesium level?" the patient asks me.

I look through every other piece of paper I received detailing all the minutiae but none of the substance of her hospital stay and cannot for the life of me figure out why he wants a magnesium level. I resort to my standard answer for questions about other doctors:

"I don't answer any questions that begin with 'why'."


At Tue Jun 02, 09:53:00 AM, Blogger Bianca Castafiore? said...

As a longtime practitioner in a field often compared to your own --French language and literature -- I often relied upon the standard native speakers disagree when asked "why" questions about the wily ways and means of other profs.


Re: "see me in 10 days," and vague lab orders, etc. -- it's infuriating to be issued such recommendations as an inpatient and then,as an outpatient, have to push all the work off on to other docs, who sometimes misdirect their ire toward the patient.

You'd almost be tempted to think that the aforementioned specialists value the remuneration given to inpatient consulting more than outpatient lab draws...

At Tue Jun 02, 12:47:00 PM, Anonymous family doc said...

Dr. Dino:

Do you really do lab draws for other (i.e., lazy) docs?

You're taking on all the responsibility for handling, tracking, follow-up, and payment just to make life a little easier for those over-worked specialists?

Please explain!


At Tue Jun 02, 01:38:00 PM, Anonymous Not Really A Patient said...

No "why" huh? Fine. What reason does he have for wanting my magnesium level?


At Wed Jun 03, 02:44:00 AM, Blogger Anne LeMar said...

"I don't answer any questions that begin with 'why'."

I wish I'd had that answer 20-odd years ago when my children were little!!!

Would have saved me a WHOLE lot of time!!

Anne in Memphis


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