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.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Poaching Patients

I was covering for another doctor a month or two ago. Dr. W is very nice, but he does have a noticeable Italian accent. Perfectly understandable, but definitely speaks with an accent.

I got a call from one of his patients and could barely understand her message on the phone due to her heavy Russian accent. I called back and spoke to the husband, who explained that his wife had been seen the week before. Tests had been done and some antibiotics had been called in by the office (after the doctor was away) this week. The problem was that the antibiotics were finished and the patient now had a fever.


I called the other office and had them fax over the office notes and labs, then called the patient back and asked her to come in to help sort out what was wrong with her.

In person, her English was fine, despite the Russian accent. I took a history and did an exam, and tried to figure out what was wrong. I wasn't at all certain it was a UTI (treated for by the other doc) so I repeated some of the tests and sent some others, then tried a different antibiotic and told the patient to follow up with Dr. W next week. Poaching patients while covering for another physician is not a Good Idea. But the patient requested otherwise:

"Please, can I stay with you," she asked. "I haven't been seeing him very long, and he's nice enough, but I can't really understand him that well, because of his accent."


At Tue Jul 24, 12:57:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yikes! Maybe you can have a polite conversation with the other doc . . . I know that I hated having others cover for me (not medical, but still . . .) for the same reason . . . Ya never know who will try to "steal" clients. I think I would address it with the other doc and make sure he knows you didn't encourage the change.

At Fri Jul 27, 08:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know it sounds odd, someone with an accent complaining about someone else with an accent. But if the accents are different, there may be more difficulty to understand than a native speaker would have. My husband is Russian, and I've seen this a few times.


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