Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Patient Complaints by Anonymous

An anonymous doctor was once called into an authority figure's office for a discussion of patient complaints. A quick glance at the names revealed that the complainants consisted of the following:

(1) Substance abusers claiming that the doctor was "insensitive" to their demands for higher doses of narcotics to be given more often (despite reports from reliable sources indicating that they were in no distress whatever).
(2) A family member who announced that faith alone would render dialysis unnecessary for the patient, and who took offense when the doctor asked why said patient didn't simply walk out of the hospital.
(3) The family members of a clearly terminal patient who demanded "full court press" even after the social worker pointed out that they were financially motivated to keep Daddy alive and his will unread as long as possible.

The doctor pointed out that admitting the patients nobody else wanted (having received them via appointments clerks and ER docs who stated that "Nobody else here wants to ever see this #$%^ again") pretty much guaranteed a high level of dissatisfaction.

The authority figure, however, was not impressed. "You have to work on gaining these patients' trust and respect," was the response. "You know, it's been said that diplomacy is a way of telling people to go to hell and make them enjoy the trip." The A. F. declined to demonstrate how this might be done.

The doctor eventually left the medical organization and has found one that believes in using resources wisely. Problem patients are given their walking papers and directions to other healthcare providers, and the pain-management service refers substance abusers to appropriate treatment facilities.

And you know what? The consultants in this place are excellent. The morale among support staff such as nurses and social workers is first-rate. The doctors are willing to work for less money because they know that their time is not being wasted. Patients even decline referral to tertiary-care institutions because they like the attitude in the second place so much better.

Moral: all authority figures aren't so bad. Some of them are even smart enough to know that you can't please everybody. And the others will have to live with the knowledge that they have made their organizations a magnet for drug abusers, sociopaths and primadonnas. Hoo-ah!!

Actually what really fries my cookies is the large number of "How to Deal with the Difficult Patient" courses, which make it sound like you can sweeten up ANYBODY if only you follow their advice. This flies in the face of all that is known about personality disorders and substance abuse, but healthcare institutions fall for it every time 'cuz they're so protective of their customer satisfaction ratings.


Anonymous said...

This story reminds me of a part-time magazine publisher that once quit working for his hospital because they were idiots.

Edwin said...

It always strikes me as ridiculous and hypocritical that so many people in academia and administrative positions are deeply offended by doctors talking to drug reps, since it may represent 'financial incentives.' But the same folks believe that putting up with sociopaths and criminals, and trying to placate them, for reasons of higher satisfaction scores (eg more patients and money)is just good 'patient relations.' What a crock.

John said...

Leave the Gun, take the complaint.

Don't feed the bears or the drug seekers will come back. Be the Wall. Be the WALL

Ariel said...

My institution calls them "Exceptional Patients". You can start gagging now.