One Quick Question
One quick question. What could be wrong with one quick little question? Just this: if I hear the words, "I just have one quick question" one more time, someone will be ripped limb from limb and fed slowly to the great Sarnack to be slowly digested over a thousand years, while I set my hair on fire, yank my fingernails out one by one, and shriek for mercy to the heavens above. Also, I may get a little upset.
It's flu shot season. This means that in addition to scheduling patients for regular visits, we have people coming in just for a flu shot. We pull the chart (so we can document the flu shot), but they're squeezed in and around the other patient visits. Given that it takes me about 15 seconds to draw up a flu shot and literally less than one second for the actual injection (not counting however long it takes them to roll up sleeves/remove jackets/unbutton shirts/whatever it takes to get to bare skin), we usually get these folks in and out pretty promptly. In fact, we count on it.
So when they start in with other stuff, like "I need a couple of prescriptions," or "Can you check my blood pressure?" or "Can I just see what I weigh?" or the infamous, dreaded "Can I ask one quick question?" my blood pressure starts to rise, as do the hairs on the back of my neck, and my hackles.
It sounds (and feels) so petty to say, "NO! You're just here for a flu shot. Not a blood pressure check; not a weight check; not for prescription refills; and certainly not for a visit, which is what we call it when you have questions -- quick, slow, long, short, whatever -- that require my professional expertise to answer. I mean, that's why you're asking me, right?" So I don't say that. Even if I'm thinking it; I somehow manage not to say it.
Instead, I swallow hard and say, "Sure."
And they ask their question, which often needs an office visit, which I try to get then to schedule. And I'll write a prescription or two; if there are more, I'll ask if they can come back later; they're usually okay with that. But I won't weigh them or check their blood pressure when there are other patients waiting for scheduled appointments. Mostly, they understand. I hope.
Because one quick question is seldom quick.