14 June 2013

News Media Is Schooling Doctors

I don't know whether to laugh or cry about this blog by Dr. Wes. What Dr. Wes is saying is true. It is in almost every daily newscast and in the printed media. I must wonder at the same time if this is not part of our current administration's goal to keep doctors off balance while changing so much of their lives with the roll out of the current healthcare law. As a patient, I feel like answering some of the points Dr. Wes says the media is trying to school him.

At the same time, what Dr. Wes is saying about the way he thinks (I hope tongue-in-cheek) is that all doctors should turn their head away from the computer screen (not a bad idea). His next suggestion will make patients wonder where he is coming from when he says hold the patient's hands and look into their eyes. If any of my doctors were to do this, I would probably be out the door very fast. Next, he says doctors are to listen to their concerns, which many doctors do not do. They have their cookbook medicine to follow and finish before their time with us out runs out.

The next two items he lists are over the top and I would complain if he put himself in my place and do a thorough physical exam at every appointment. Most of the time, patients just want communication and an exam maybe once a year, unless it is necessary because of what the symptoms are or may indicate. Having constant empathy and insight is over the top and a little sincere communication here would go a long way. The doctor's assistant, sometimes a nurse but often a certified nurse's aid, normally handles reading back medications.

Some patients do need written instructions in fifth grade English, but even then, some patients will not understand. These patients should be encouraged to repeat back what they have been told. A doctor should consider escorting the patient to the checkout area where normally the next appointment is set up and instructions for lab work at the next appointment are spelled out on the appointment card. The following area I have seen in some media news stories and I wondered why every doctor needed highly skilled and educated assistants. Now I know that some doctors do need their services because to the requirements of the appointment and in some outpatient services. Most other doctors will not need them.

Rather than quote Dr. Wes, I would say his blog is excellent and he does need support for the position he takes. I poked a little fun at him above, but in reality, the media and even some of his colleagues are not supporting him. They want more monies for not doing some important aspects of their profession. See my blog here. I will quote this and it is about the requirements put on doctors by the electronic health records. Dr. Wes says, “We move as fast as we can to remain productive, because that's what's REALLY valued in healthcare these days. So is patient loyalty because that's what keeps them coming back. But in the process of growing loyalty, we increasingly have to document everything or other payers think it doesn't happen. So we type. And click. And type. And click. And print. To get paid. Talk about a communication and empathy buzz-kill!”

Please take time to read the blog by Dr. Wes. I am surprised that it received few comments and some as anonymous.


  1. Very interesting post, Bob. I appreciate you writing about this and pointing us to that blog post that Dr. Wes wrote. He makes some very valid points, and many of them I do agree with. In the diabetes doc world, I have found that many don't have adequate bedside manner when it comes to "listening" to patients and hearing what we are saying. And they don't recognize what we really need, outside of looking at us as numbers and textbook people with diabetes (as you said, cookbook examples). They use words like "non-compliant" that alienate us, and don't see the true value in empowering us. Now, can't say that as a blanket statement for everyone, but many operate that way. It's sad, and I do think those individuals need to be schooled. But there does need to be a balance between watchdog behavior and valuing the professionals.

  2. Thanks, Mike!

    Doctors are between a rock and a hard place at the present. I can forgive a lot, but not the rude doctors or the ones that talk to others like you were not there.

    Some still use "non-compliant," but that seems to have moved down to the nurses and others that I deal with. One of my doctors that actually reads my blog, likes to tease me by asking if I have been a compliant patient since my last visit, and then quickly gets to business. When I don't bite on his remarks, it does not happen that often.

    My diabetes doctor does listen and does understand, except when it comes to my A1c. She wants me to move mine up because of my age and being on insulin. I think she worries about hypoglycemia, but I told her to stop making this a point. She then goes to me meter print out and counts the number of times I get below 80. This time I was ready and told her with the new guidelines, she should start with below 70 and she could only find one. I did need to show her the new guidelines since she had not read them, but did know they had been published.