Monday, July 2, 2012

A Quick Look

“My other son is coming down with something. Do you mind taking a quick look?”

If you wonder if it annoys doctors to see an extra patient at the last minute, it does. They grumble regularly on physician internet forums which, like forums in general, are full of petty complaints.

In an office, that second patient generates a second bill, but I rarely charge double in a hotel. Driving takes up 80 percent of my housecall time, so an extra consultation doesn’t add much. I’m also aware of one rule of medicine that may come as a surprise.

Rule:  If one member of a family is ill, it might be serious. When two members are ill, it’s never serious.

A guest with chest pain, vertigo, or difficulty breathing is probably the only one in the room suffering. When two people are sick, it’s a respiratory infection: cough, congestion, fever, sore throat… These are not serious.

No medical rule is one hundred percent accurate, but I’d rate this near 99. In an otherwise healthy person, the only common, serious, and curable respiratory infection is bacterial pneumonia. Since pneumonia is not generally contagious, I’ve never seen two cases in the same room.

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