Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Family doctor

I have often wondered what families who do not contain a "medical person" do for medical care. I am not referring to diagnosis and treatment. Please don't misunderstand. Everyone in my family has a physician. I am talking about the persistence and the proper vocabulary to make the person who answers the phone at the doctor's office understand the importance of the problem and the fact that you expect attention before the end of the decade.

I am reminded of the time my father had a 103 degree fever on a Sunday afternoon. Elderly and with multiple medical problems, I am sure this was a situation, the severity of which even the newest answering service attendant would understand and page the physician. Yet, due to the slow response my father had received on previous occasions, he refused to believe he could even talk with the doctor on a Sunday afternoon.

In fact, my father did not call even me. One of my cousins happened to drop by my parents home and called me to apprise me of the situation. When my father told me, "Well you can't just call a doctor on Sunday afternoon!" I ask him how many times he had been present when my beeper when off on Sunday afternoon, at night, during dinner, or a dozen other times that might be inconvenient. "That's different," he said. "You deliver babies."

True. I do deliver babies but when I was in private practice I got calls about everything. Patients use to call me about their husband's chest pain and their mother's fractured hip. Most of the time I tried to answer those questions just like I do with my our family members, "Have you talked to the doctor taking care of this problem?"
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