Tuesday, February 9, 2010

And so it goes

The orthopedist was supposed to call me today at 11.55 to talk about the results of an MRI on my knee that was performed two months ago. By 12.25, he still had not called. I emailed the department (it's virtually impossible to reach them by phone) and asked if he was going to call today.

Don't know if they had read the email, but ten minutes later - 40 minutes after the designated time - he called (with no apology). I said I had not had a chance to talk to anyone about the MRI, which had been done two months ago. Didn't I call and leave a message, he asked? Yes, I said, you left a message on my cell phone, which I didn't find until two days later. You asked me to call if I had questions. Well, I do! We talked, and I pried out of him some ideas about what could be wrong with my knee and some thoughts about what to do next.

In Sweden, you do your job. His job was to report my test results, not to assist with or solve my problem. It seems obvious, but I guess it's necessary to articulate that actually assisting a patient is part of a physician's job description.

Job description: physician. Blah, blah, blah. Must also attempt to solve patient's problem by talking to patient live and identifying action steps for treatment. Disdain for people automatic disqualification for this job.

The orthopedist did his job: he reported the test results. But did he attempt to help the patient?

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