Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving weekend. We’re back from our trip to NJ – my husband’s folding laundry and singing a very inspired “Occupy <your city here>” theme song to the tune of “Silver Bells” as I rest my aching legs after a long day of shopping. But before I put this holiday to bed, I want to tell you about one part – something I did that I never thought I’d be allowed to do. I went to work with my brother.
You see, my brother’s a doctor, and he had a couple of patients in the hospital on Thursday. I asked him if I could go with him when he went on his rounds, never thinking he’d agree to it, but he did, although he couldn’t understand why I’d want to go. One reason is that I’ve always been interested in medicine and anatomy. Another is that I’ve always wanted to be that proverbial “fly on the wall” at my brother’s practice, because while he’s been practicing medicine for many years now, he’s still my dorky little brother who I’m really, really proud of but there’s still that part of me that simply can’t believe he’s a doctor. Treating people. And so, I woke up early on Thanksgiving morning to accompany him, and I’ve got to say, it was extremely enlightening.
Now, I’ve had a few stays at the hospital myself, and one thing that always sort of ticked me off was the fact that my doctors never spent a lot of time checking up on me – they’d breeze in, ask me a few questions, then breeze out in under 5 minutes. I assumed that whatever was wrong with me just wasn’t interesting enough to warrant a longer check-up, but here’s what really goes on:
For each patient my brother and I saw, we first spent about 10 minutes going over charts and notes left by other doctors, specialists, therapists, and lab techs. Then we went in to talk to/examine the patient. This really didn’t take long, because my brother already had all the information he needed to make a diagnosis or prescribe the next course of action. This was followed by 20-30 minutes of note-taking, more chart-reading, dictation, and discussions with the nurses on duty. All of this would be repeated the next day, and the next day… as long as the patients were still in the hospital.
So if you’ve ever wondered, as I did, why your doctor has been rushing through your exams, chances are excellent that while s/he may not have spent a lot of time in your company, s/he did spend about 45 minutes making sure that your tests, treatments, diagnoses, and communications between everyone who reads your charts were correct and in order. And that’s pretty amazing, whether your brother’s the doctor or not.