How to Make Your Patient Unhappy and/or Homicidal: Medicine 101

1) Make sure your waiting room is filled with ancient, tattered magazines in which Michael Jackson lives and George W. Bush is still president.

2) Seat patients closely together so they can all get equally sprayed by the guy with sneezing fits.

3) To further your “building patience in your patients” program, make sure they wait a long, long time.  A full hour past the appointed time, for example, should be passed without interruption.  This will show your patient you are overworked, highly popular, and engaged in fascinating work that necessitates her wait.

4) When your nurse calls your patient’s name, make sure she offers no apology whatsoever, even though seasons have passed and eras ended during her long wait.

5) You, of course, should make no apology, either.  And by the way, saying a simple “hello” is for unimaginative chumps and dentists.  Instead, greet patient with the warmly personal and amusing line, “We’re going to need a urine specimen from you today.  Think you can do it?”  (Another advantage of the long wait: Patients enter with full bladders!)

6) Make sure your nurse charges in and demands to know when patient’s last mammogram was, even though the patient had a bilateral mastectomy in 1995.  Who needs to check patient records before you talk to her, anyway?

7) Ignore patient’s superb(!) blood pressure, her really great cholesterol scores, her general good health.  Instead, chide her about her weight gain of four pounds over the past year.  (Four pounds!)  Female patients, after all, are often motivated by shame.

8) At the end of the day, sit down and read about latest healthcare plan.  Shake your head, wondering and worrying whether it will mean the downfall of all those close doctor-patient relationships you’ve nurtured so carefully over the years.

(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker)

7 comments… add one
  • Cindy A Link

    Interesting take on health care, Ruth! The wait for my doctor is so long, I bring a book. And then, when I get to see him, the man who used to fuss over me and ask me how I’m doing has found a new tool to assist him. A laptop computer. And I hate it. In the last five years, he has never moved his eyes away from that #@%! computer screen. If he asks a question, I talk to the back of his head. The man who used to know the names of my children now has no idea what I look like. I am a virtual patient.

  • Have you been visiting my doctor? Great post!

  • I’ve had a wonderful GP for more than 20 years. I called yesterday and her voice mail said, “The office is closed for several weeks. Please find another doctor.”  Cryptic and paralyzing.

  • Sounds like a miserable trip to the doc’s office…..for shame….
    They can and should do better!

  • Karen Link

    My husband and I were attempting to learn a difficult procedure from an RN. Her cell phone kept ringing and ringing. She would take it out of her pocket and look to see who was calling and either answer it or send the call to her mail box. Most of the time she answered it. Her reason (excuse) it is my birthday and everyone is calling me.

  • M A Link

    If medicine in the US were not a business for profit we might have physicians who actually looked at us when we speak.  And the part where you are made to wait for over an hour:  The doctor and staff are telling you that their time is more valuable than yours…  It’s just not right!

  • Floyd Link

    1. Explain to the doctor that he/she works for you!!
    2. Send him a bill for your time spent waiting on him/her.
    3. Fire him/her.

    One day while waiting in my doctor’s office there was a young mother with a very active toddler who was all over the place into everything. After chasing him down several times she abruptly sat him down on a chair and sharply said, “Stay there!” Looking up at his mother the toddler quickly replied, “I hope you’re happy you busted BOTH OF MY BALLS!” then reached in his back pocked and pulled out two deflated ping-pong balls.

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