DR. HOOK- Invisible patients: Asking to be treated over the phone

Invisible patients are like bloggers who think they know everything and get to hide behind an anonymous computer screen to spew out anything.  An invisible patient is like someone who wants a free refill on their drink but has already left the restaurant, someone who wants their annual state inspection sticker without bringing in their car, or a Catholic person wanting confession but not going to church. "Can't I just call the priest on call?"

   Some patients actually demand to have labs checked– let's say for cholesterol or thyroid– and then expect the doctor to manage their condition without ever being seen.  

"Why do I need to see you?  Just call in my prescription, and if I have a side effect, I'll blame you later for improper management. Plus, why should you get paid for managing my health care? It's not like you do anything or know any better than me. I have a ED degree: e-medicine doctorate."

   One patient– er, ex-patient– of mine had his labs drawn at a different doctor's office and yelled at me a month later when I didn't tell him the results of his labs or what to do with his medicine. Hello, I'm not a Dionne Warwick psychic! The lab results never came back to me because his daughter drew the blood at the doctor's office where she worked. She was the one managing his labs and medicines, although she has never even held a beaker in chemistry class. "Beaker? Isn't that a Muppet character?"

   Even though I give all my patients an organized instruction sheet, many turn them into a paper airplane and throw them off the nearest roof. Then a year later if they return to see me, I point out they should have returned within three months so we could see if the medicine is at the right dose.  

"Doc, I feel fine. So what?" Well, your BP is through the roof, your liver enzymes are higher than Nicolas Cage's character in Leaving Las Vegas, and your lungs sound like Shelly Winters when she drowned in The Poseidon Adventure.

   Some patients no-show for their scheduled appointment and then ask for refills a week later. When we point out they haven't been sending in their monthly blood sugars or blood pressure logs, they act like Queen Elizabeth I after an assassination attempt. "What? Do you know who I am?" 

Yes, we know you're human, we've studied medicine for many years, and we just might know more about how the human body works– but then again, we don't have an ED.

   I get quite a few emails in which the patient has made a self-diagnosis, and sometimes they're right. But often they're not right, so I like to actually see them.  

"Doc, I know I have MS so please order an MRI now. If you don't, I have a friend at the hospital who will do it for me." (By the way, having connections with medical professionals is not an advantage. Blindly ordering tests is hunting with Dick Cheney and firing at anything you think is game.)

     Just so you know, every phone call and every correspondence is documented in your chart, and it takes time for the doctor to do 20-30 of them a day in addition to his/her full day of seeing patients. You just can't expect to have your healthcare managed completely without being seen. Let's see you get your hair colored and styled by calling your stylist for advice but never being seen.

   Christina Aguilera sings, "You are beautiful in every single way." So show your lovely face at the doctor's office, and stop being invisible.