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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I broke my distance record last week, driving 94 miles to care for a man with a sore throat.

I’ve found it good business not to refuse distant visits. It’s hard arrange a housecall on short notice, so housecall agencies and travel insurers keep a list of doctors for every area. But humans are creatures of habit, and once a dispatcher learns that calling me always gets the housecall, they continue to call. Ignored, other doctors drift away, and I become the only one available. As long as I don’t refuse too often, they don’t bestir themselves to refresh the list.

I quoted a fee that took into account the long drive, pointing out that it would be cheaper to send the patient to a local clinic. This sometimes gets me off the hook, but it didn’t in this case, so I drove to Santa Barbara. That’s where I served my internship long ago in 1972-73, and the hotel turned out to be three blocks from my former apartment. It was not there forty years ago, and the area has become unrecognizable, so I felt no nostalgia. I saw the patient, stretched my legs, and drove home.

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