Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What Irritates Doctors

Yes, the practice of medicine is a joy. But your doctor does get irritated at times. We know what irritates patients...waiting too long, being put on hold, doctors rushing you out the door. Do you ever wonder what yanks your doctors chain? I'm willing to bet these are universal:
  • Calling for a drug refill on weekends or nights and not knowing the pharmacy phone number. "Oh it's the pharmacy I always use". Let me tell you...I don't want to search information for your pharmacy number. Be prepared. Better yet, call during office hours.
  • When we call you to report your test results it is usually at the end of a long day. It's not the time for you to bring up brand new health issues. We want you to have your results but those phone calls are keeping us from getting home. Please just say thanks. We dread those calls because what should take a minute can drag on and on.
  • Please don't call and cancel your appointment at the same time you are supposed to be there. Would your hairdresser stand for that?
  • I want to concentrate on you when you have an appointment. Please don't ask medical questions about your friend, relative, acquaintance. That is not a good use of our time and it is irritating as hell.
  • Please don't call me to get the test results that another doctor ordered. It is time consuming to pull your chart, call you back and try to interpret tests that someone else thought was necessary. We hate it when you say "Oh, Dr. Jones is so busy...I couldn't get through to him so I called you." Guess what, I'm busy too and now I'm irritated and busy.
  • Please don't ask for handicapped placards if you aren't really handicapped. The same goes for jury duty excuses. I serve on jury duty and so do my employees. Enough said.
We docs love our patients. That is why we do it. We get our irritations from your insurance company, Medicare and the price of gas. We promise to try not to annoy you too.


Dragonfly said...


TBTAM said...

Someone had a bad day...

I hear ya'

Dr. Matthew Mintz said...

I will add one. Bringing up issues at the very end of a visit. Ironically, this is often the issue that the patient is most concerned about. It's better to bring all your concerns up front, even if all of them can't be handled in a 15 minute visit. You and your physician can negotiate which one's to tackle and in what order. The request for Viagra as the doctors is saying "goodbye" is a perfect example.

Anonymous said...

These are so right on. I would add requesting tests (blood, imaging, referrals) by phone and expecting phone calls without ever coming in for an exam or visit.

Rich said...

What irritates me is: when aptient shows up for a test that their PC ordered and has no idea why they are having it done. DO YOU HOMEWORK. If you doctor wants you to have a diagnostic test - ASK WHY!!

Rich said...

ecuse my typos on that last comment -I write on the fly in between patients

PharmacistMike said...

OK, your next post is going to have to be on how you can tell if you irritated your doctor. I saw 5 physicians when diagnosed with testicular cancer. During my second opinion with a radiation oncologist, I debated "his data" on secondary malignancies, and produced the studies to back it up. That's the only appointment that I received a rectal exam...do you think I irritated him?

Anonymous said...

My biggest pet peeve: patients who ask a question and then don't listen to the answer. Three words into my answer, they interrupt me to ask their next question.

Anonymous said...

Here's my current favorite.
Me: "Hi, I'm Dr. Petite Female."
Patient: "Oh, so are you an NP? A PA?"
Me: "No, I'm an M.D."
Patient: (feigning surprise and exaggerated admiration) "Well, excuse me."

Anonymous said...

Also, doctors offices are not the place to be talking on cell phones or watching DVD's LOUDLY on a laptop.
Other people are sick and need to be respected as well as the employees need to hear on in coming calls of other patients.

I'm an employee and don't like to have patients acting put out to ask them to turn them off in the waiting room.
Anon. #2

The Happy Hospitalist said...

I love hospitalist medicine

tracey said...

Good to know. I have had excellent doctors through my cancer treatment - Dr. L even called with test results at 9 on a Saturaday night so I wouldn't have to stress through the rest of the weekend. I would walk on broken glass for him. Thanks for the tips on "how not to take him (or my other docs) for granted".

Toni Brayer MD said...

Pharmacistmike: hahaha. I don't think he was punishing you with the rectal...he was probably the most thorough of all your doctors. Hope all is well now.

Happy hospitalist: Yes, you've got the best of all worlds.

Tracey: That Dr. L sounds like a winner and I'm glad you have him.

Anonymous said...

The only thing being a hospitalist lacks that a primary care doctor has is that you can't build that really special long term relationship, if you have that connection knowing a patient for years and going through their life with them.

I have a special PCP doctor that genuinely seems to care and is personaly interested in me as a person.

ERP said...

As an ER doc, can say "You are entitled to ONE chief complaint" for your visit. Yes, I know, sometimes different symptoms can be linked but please don't suddenly say you have been having chest pain when you are there for a conjunctival discharge.

CountryMidwife said...

You know what drives me bonkers? When a client calls to report a problem that happened days before. For example: "Hi, I'm 29 weeks pregnant, I went to a water park four days ago and took a real slam to my belly. No bleeding or contractions, baby's moving well, but what should I do?". You should have called me thursday, not at 11 pm on a Sunday night. GRRRR.

AmyT said...

Thanks for the great tips here, Dr. Brayer.

Would you visit me sometime, and consider adding www.diabetesmine.com to your blogroll?


PharmacistMike said...

Dr. Brayer,

Everything is great. Two years out so far so good. Now starting a non-profit to help others.


Coffee, Tea and Heart Disease