Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Why I Hate Appointments

“We have two clients with the flu, but they’re at a conference. They’d like you to come at three.” This news arrived at nine.

I love seeing two patients at the same time, but I prefer going immediately. Things happen if I wait….

Sure enough, at one-thirty another hotel called. There was time to make both housecalls if I hurried, so I hurried into Hollywood, pretended I wasn’t in a hurry when I cared for the guest, hurried back to my car, and drove fifteen miles into the suburbs for the appointment.

“No one asked for a doctor,” said the person who answered the door. Shown the names, he recognized them but added that they were at a meeting. He phoned and reported that they had lost track of time but would hurry back. Their conference was at a university three miles away. Their transportation was by city bus. 

Another hotel had called. I didn’t want to wait, but there was a problem: I have an exalted view of the medical profession. We are noble humanitarians, a superior breed.

All doctors agree but many (generally Republicans) feel that if someone treats them badly (the government, insurance companies), their humanitarian obligations vanish, and they’re free to become jerks (google “concierge doctor”).

This housecall came to me from a travel insurer, so (unlike calls directly from hotels) I get paid if patients flake out. Leaving would be no material sacrifice, but how would I feel if I refused to care for them?....  After weighing my options and taking no pleasure, I drove to the university, picked them up, drove back to the hotel, and performed my exam.

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