Saturday, 16 June 2007

House call anyone?

I don’t have a lot of terrible work days – but Friday takes the cake. Actually seeing patients is great – but here are some of the logistical nightmares from today…
To give a background I see patients in an outpatients clinic at the hospital in the morning and then go see people who are too ill to come in (these patients are terminally ill) in the afternoon. I’ll call patients in advance to give them a time frame and to confirm the appointment. Oh and my secretary is on the edge right now - she's being demanded all kinds of things by hospital hierarchy and is not coping.

So, after the hospital reviews I start to call the patients I am to see in the afternoon…

Call to Patient 1. Husband answers phone (at least I think he's the husband) he doesn't have any idea why I'm calling – I explain who I am and that it's about seeing his wife at home, I state her name - he doesn’t seem to understand, says something about not understanding English in an accented voice and hangs up on me! I still have the bare minimum of information from the referring Doctor so I file it in the 'needs interpreter' basket - ? language - I think Macedonian.

Patient 2. No answer at home – so I call the daughter's number I have in my file, "My father died on Anzac Day, April 25th..." I exit the conversation very apologetically - I guess I won't be seeing him today.

Patient 3. Son answers: “Oh we had the doctor come out from palliative care yesterday”; I reply "Was that Dr A ? (my colleague)" , he responds “Yes, that was him”.... I confirm everything is okay- he doesn't need review today - then find my other colleague (Dr B) holding a duplicate of his file “Yes I saw him yesterday” Bloody hell... next…

Patient 4. Answers – she doesn’t answer the questions I am asking, but tells me the ones she wants to answer: “I'm seeing a doctor next week” – I reply "Oh, who is that you are seeing / what is their specialty?" to which she replies: "I don't know - can you call my daughter?" Me: "sure okay" – it seems I’m not getting anywhere here anyway, so I call the daughter who, seeming slightly irritated, says - "I'm on speaker phone can you call back later..." I feel like an insurance salesman (but I did say who I was) and end the call. Normally people want me YESTERDAY and not a moment later. I feel unwanted…

Then I get a call from a community nurse – Mr X Died this morning – he doesn’t have a family doctor (he hadn’t for some time – he didn’t like any doctors after his diagnosis – but he liked me) It seems I’m the only one who can write his death certificate, I need to see him. She gives me the address where he is – he has moved to his brother’s house since I last saw him - and when I leave the hospital I head there – getting a jumbled message on my phone just before I arrive 15minutes later – he’s in fact NOT at that address but 20minutes in the opposite direction, but the message is not exact and I’m not sure exactly where he is and no-one answers my calls. On my way to the predicted destination – his sister-in-law calls not realizing it is actually my phone and thankfully clarifies the details – my first lucky break – if you can call it that. And I get to see the remains of my once feisty patient and a chaotic family home with people crowding every room.

The rest of the day is better – but I’m exhausted – I see my remaining patients and exhaust myself further at the gym, then revive in the pool before dinner…

Bring on the weekend!


Anonymous said...

Hey Trevor - thank you for your persistence and care for your patients.

I just minor surgery, repair of an umbilical hernia, that was so fast and non memorable that I am impressed. My doctor has called for follow up and I have other doctor and nurse friends who have called and will drop in on me over the weekend.

I feel blessed to have good friends that care about me and will look in on me to make sure I doing well. I am actually touched greatly by their care and concern.

So far, no pain. I may have a different opinioin when the pain killers wear off. My only complaint is that the surgeon (one of NYC's best plastic surgeons) couldn't give me a "super model" belly button - LOL.

Seriously, you should be commended for your care of people and for life - thank you.

I wish you all the best. I know that your time with those ill around you gives them reassurance and peace.

Big hugs, Jim in NYC

lynnette said...

ughh sounds exhausting...i felt like you should have been telling me that story while we were doing abs at the gym...or more to the point while YOU were doing abs at the gym;) miss you.

Englishman abroad said...

Blimey Trevor,

After all that you saw only one patient - and he was dead!

If every Friday was like that, I would go to four days a week!

Love the filing reference of Patient 1!