An issue recently came up when a colleague’s COO noted that certain patients are taking up too much of the staff’s time and her time.
For years in medical school we were taught Doctors should answer all the patient’s questions. At Harvard, I praised myself on being such a doctor.
So it was with consternation that This colleague received multiple emails from her COO and was pulled aside to say some of her patients are boardering on “harassment,” they ask so many questions.
It is true that many patients bring in hundreds of questions. Some patients have sleep issues and as a result poor memories; some patients have early dementia and cannot remember the answers even if repeated multiple times.
This patient above is ready and equipped to ask hundreds of questions.
Doctors are now being put in a tough spot where they want to and are taught to answer all patient’s question or direct them to the person on the team who can but are being pushed by executives to cut visits short as they see the bottom line of resources. I have never had an executive suggest that I discharge a patient from the practice so this trend is very disconcerting.
This is a big issue which many doctors find frustrating as we know these patients often have chronic pain and are in misery and just need to fully understand their disease process to get some peace of mind.
My best friend recently told me that her mom’s surgeon in Houston spent about 3 minutes to tell her something to the effect my friend said of: “You have metastatic breast cancer to your brain and spine…here is your death sentence. Have to go. Bye. My nurses will answer any questions.”
Thus when a rare surgeon spends 2hrs with one patient and this surgeon staff gets upset… it is a tough situation.
Sandra Lora Cremers, MD, FACS