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Friday, May 27, 2016

Has medical care reached a near Fubar condition because of the Answering machine?

I argue it may have.

Being a physician and knowing what I know about physicians , the good and the less good, I absolutely hate to go to a doctor. For most of my life I have not had to -now that I have to. I am past being appalled at the near impossibility of having meaningful or for that matter  any communication other than face to face in the office.Some of this failure to communicate is due to the answering machine.

An illustrative real life case.

After the implantation of a pacemaker I experience several somewhat uncommon complications. One week post procedure my heart rate suddenly jumped to 150 . My pacemaker came with a bedside device that enabled me to send data  to the PM center at the hospital .I sent a signal, called the number and was informed by the tech that it looked like I had atrial flutter.   Calls to my EP doctor office were answered by a machine and the only relevant choice was to leave a message for his nurse. No call back in one or two hours and heart rate continues at 150, a value that  exceeded the number that was sent to the PM center earlier. Knowing that atrial flutter is not a real call 911 situation did not keep my anxiety level from mounting.

Finally , knowing this was my ep doctor's clinic day my wife and I decided to go to the office and insist on seeing the physician . As it turned out the flutter has stopped by the time I saw the doctor.

The answering machine has turned into a situation in which the patient is given two options-leave a message and hope that you will get a reply sooner than the next or call 911 (or head directly to the ER on your own) . 

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