Monday, October 3, 2011

Hot Potato, MD-style

If there's one thing that irritates me about current medical practices, it's the lack of coordination of care. Coordination of care is a no-brainer, but Dr. God so frequently can't sit his a$$ down long enough to call up Dr. Almighty and discuss the welfare of the lowly patient.

People are not an academic exercise. Lives are at stake. I watched this ball get dropped on someone I supervised, who trusted her doctors (yes, that's plural) to work together to make sure she didn't die. She wasn't a forceful person, and by the time her nephew, a respiratory therapist, identified the problem and got her to a doctor who gave a crap, it was too late. She threw what my father tells me is called a 'saddle embolus' and died not long after diagnosis.

If her G.P., pulmanologist, and cardiologist hadn't been so determined to live in their own rarefied air and not deign to speak to each other, she might be alive. You don't have to die from this condition- just ask a couple of my colleagues who were diagnosed earlier because they sat back on their heels and raised hell when their symptoms began to mimic the lady who died. One of those people, by the way, is (like yours truly) a doctor's daughter. We're an unquiet bunch.

The reason I'm on this rant is that somehow, someone didn't feel like writing my mother's discharge summary from the hospital the other day, after the charge nurse hounded the various members of Mom's "team" about it for almost two hours. She was sent to the nursing home without it, which is completely illegal. She has four separate specialists following her, none of whom feel it's necessary to talk to the others since, well, apparently MEDICINE IS PRACTICED IN A VACUUM these days. Team, my hind leg!!!

So this has landed in Dad's lap, and this is a) inappropriate, b) not his responsibility, and c) he has his own patients to treat, so he can't be doing everyone else's job for them. Doctors are proscribed from treating their families. Why are these people dumping this on him???

Mind you, I would stake my dad against any hoity-toity God-complex-bearing specialist any day. Back in the Dark Ages, you see, a GP got really solid, broad medical training. Dad's a pretty dab hand at surgery, one hell of a treater of cardiovascular disease, and pretty damn good at fixing runny noses. He also caught something about a drug I questioned when it was prescribed for Mom because of her drug allergies...and when we talked about it last night, his question was, "Why didn't you SAY something?" The blunt answer is that a physician, particularly a specialist, is not going to listen to me.

Here's the thing, people: IT'S YOUR BODY, and IT'S YOUR HEALTH. Don't just sit there and let a bunch of white-coated egos play hot potato with your life. Seriously. They are but men, and men have feet of clay, i.e., that coat and stethoscope don't make them immortal or immune to criticism. The stakes are too high to let it lay.