Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My first complaint

This week I got my first complaint from a parent of a patient. Normally, this would be a traumatizing moment for me, as I am a bit sensitive and need to thicken my skin for for future incidents. The last thing I want to do is offend someone or make a bad name for myself, but I know I am not perfect, parents are not perfect, and I will unintentionally offend someone again. I actually found this incident kind of funny and an example of why patients and parents need to use common sense and courtesy.

Monday one of the doctors came to me and said that she received a call about one of my patients. My heart began to race. She told me the conversation and I knew exactly who she was talking about.
Rolling back to Friday... An hour after the scheduled appointment, I see a girl about 8 years old with a chief complaint of runny nose, congestion, and fever for three days. She had not had a fever since the first day, no fever now, and had not taken any medicine for fever (Tylenol or Motrin). No cough, no history of asthma or allergies, no sick contacts. The only thing I found on physical exam was a really congested, runny nose. Meanwhile, the mom had been talking on her cell phone in a heated conversation for about 75% of the visit. Yes, there were signs in the room about cell phones, and I did have the right to leave the room and come back when her conversation was over or have one of the assistants tell her to turn off the phone, but I was feeling a bit laid back and decided to ignore it. I wrote a prescription for some Sudafed Cold and Cough to relieve the congestion; (yes, I prescribe over-the-counter meds all the time because Medicaid will pay for it, and I figure even if it saves them a couple bucks, a couple bucks may be their children's lunch money). I explained that it's most likely a very bad head cold caused by a virus, that antibiotics won't help (when she asked if I was going to give her the "pink" medicine), and with the combination of lack of fever, no sinus tenderness, length of time, and her age, it most likely was not a sinus infection, and that because it was a virus it just needed some time to pass. I told the mom that if it did persist for more than a couple weeks without any relief, to come back in. The mom was not very happy about the medicine and just shook her head on the way out and mumbled about how "this stuff don't work."

Fast forward to Monday and the doctor tells me about the call she received from the same parent of the same patient. The mother said, "I don't mean to be mean, but I saw your assistant on Friday and she told me it was a cold and gave me some Sudafed." The doctor said that the mother's voice got angrier when she started telling her about her experience after the visit. During that same weekend (not sure if it was the same night of her visit or not), she went to an urgent care (wonder if she had to pay a co-pay, but that's another issue). The mother's anger reached it's climax when she said, "your assistant said it was a cold, but they (urgent care) diagnosed it as a VIRAL infection!!" The doctor reassured her that the two diagnoses were the same thing and that I was correct in my decision.

If only this parent had not been on the cell phone, she would have heard me say "virus" at least three times. Oh well. I guess the stronger the medical terminology, the more reassuring it is to the parents... I have also learned my lesson on cellphones: it's gotta be zero tolerance from here on out...

2 comments:

Mitchell3 said...

Mom says "How great to be vindicated!"

Nilla said...

Okay, I just can't imagine being on the phone while my kid is being examined by the doctor... Maybe that's just me...