"The Doctor Will See You Now—Oh, You're Dead?"

June 24, 2011
This really happened to me. I was at my physician’s office for my annual—and had already been there for more than an hour and a half, a typical wait
This really happened to me.

I was at my physician’s office for my annual—and had already been there for more than an hour and a half, a typical wait time in his office. Next to me was a very old woman accompanied by her caregiver. They were there when I arrived, so she must have been waiting at least two hours. The receptionist (who books appointments a year out) finally called out the old woman’s name, and the caregiver tried to rouse her from what I thought was a doze.

She was completely non-responsive.

The caregiver frantically begged the receptionist to get the doctor. “The doctor is in his office and cannot be disturbed,” was her answer. Really. She would not, even with all the patients in an uproar, go inside and get the doctor—who I’m sure had no idea what was going on. Long story short, EMS quickly arrived and took her out on a stretcher—still unresponsive… and I believe, dead.

Which, though it may seem macabre, has given me the punch line of all times: “THAT doctor? You could die waiting to see him.”

Now, I don’t usually talk about ambulatory EMR/PM solutions in this space, but I always try and bring them up with my doctor (who, by the way is a brilliant clinician and for me, anyway, worth the wait.) He tells me that he is a one-man shop and it is just too prohibitive for him, cost-wise, not to mention the down time he says is involved in implementing one. So we wait, and we wait, and we wait.

For at least one of us, that wait was too long.

By the way, it’s a year after this happened, time for my annual again, and I’m writing this from my doctor’s waiting room.

I’ve already been here an hour.

(Update: I’m home and the wait was only an hour 45. Why do I do it? Because he spends time talking about my life, treats me as a whole person, asks questions about my family, remembers everything about everything I’ve ever told him, and can make a confident diagnosis using a stethoscope and his hands better than any doctor using an entire a panel of tests. He has oriental rugs in his exam room, art on his walls and is one of the few doctors I know (besides my dad long gone) who practices medicine as an art. I’ll go to him forever.)

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