Doctors with Borders


This post was one of my earlier rants on another blog, but was brought to the forefront of my brain by a fellow blogger.


Before I get into the meat of this subject, I must address a couple of things.  Number one – this post is in no way pointing the finger at all members of the medical profession, by any means.  Number two – does it bother anyone else that this lofty vocation is referred to as “the practice of medicine”?  After countless nights and days in school and residency, surviving on no sleep and horrible vending machine coffee, should you not be proficient at what you’re doing by now?  Why are you still practising?  And number three – last April my mom’s GP told us to prepare ourselves for the death of my mother which she estimated would be two weeks following our discussion.  It is almost a year later and my mom is alive and well, still living in her home on her own and caring for 8 pets.

It is inevitable that each of us, at one point in our lives, will interact with a doctor. It is also undeniable that during that visit to the Oracle that is “practising” medicine, we will be subjected to a fairly lengthy wait period before we enter the inner sanctum of the office to discuss our concerns regarding our bodily functions.

After the obligatory check in at reception, we are forced to spend an elongated period of time inhaling the infinite number of germs swarming the cramped air space in the waiting room.  Casually we glance at our watches as the seconds turn into minutes and the minutes continue to race past our scheduled appointment time.   I understand that a doctor receives compensation for each patient seen on a daily basis, but somewhere along the way a few in the selected field of saving lives have forgotten that Hippocratic Oath that they vowed to uphold.  One of the lines from that oath is this “I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.”

I fear that somewhere along the path, some practitioners of this art have lost that sense of warmth and sympathy and have replaced them with a pen and prescription pad.  My co-worker had scheduled an appointment with her physician.  She does not attend the office on a regular basis to leave room for those more in need of medical care.  She had begun asking a series of questions that she had prepared and before getting the answers she so rightly deserved she was told by her own doctor that there would be no more answers.  Her time was up.  Her time was up?  Was she on Jeopardy?  And when did the clock actually start?  I would hazard a guess that it began at her scheduled appointment time that had been casually overlooked.

Somewhere in the cyclical process of patients revolving in and out of the doctor’s door,  a wedge has been driven between the care provider and those in need of care.  A doctor is, by definition, a healer.  Whether that healing requires physical care, psychological care or simply an understanding ear, the healing starts in those medical chambers.

With their depth of study and knowledge, it is customary that we take our doctor’s opinion at face value and trust that they have used every weapon in their arsenal to determine the cause of our illness and the best possible treatment available to extend our perpetuity.  As much as we should put our faith in their doctrine, we have to be the advocate for our own health and seek a second opinion, because sometimes that five minutes of examination and diagnosis may not be enough to truly gauge the underlying reason for our concern.

In my growing number of years on this earth, I have encountered many doctor’s offices and a great many trips to a hospital, not all related directly to me and my personal health and well-being, but experiences that have given me ample opportunity to form an opinion.  Occasionally I feel like these experts in the medical field have put up their borders long before we attempted to enter their inner sanctum and the time required to get a proper diagnosis is cut short.

Have you experienced anything like this, or am I out in left field?

35 thoughts on “Doctors with Borders

  1. If I call up for an appointment at my doctors they do the times in 10 minute slots, therefore y definition you have ten minutes with your doctor in order to explain your issue/s and talk about, seek medication or whatever it is that goes on, 10 minutes… sometimes as your friend found out isn’t enough time.

    With the additional fact that if you are 1 minute late for your appointment you are chastised or even have your appointment cancelled, but you can quite happily be sitting there for 20 minutes or more passed your allocated time and no one seems to care.

    I have never had a doctor say to me “no more questions your time is up”, but I have had a doctor stand up and go to open the door for me when I had not finished, I simply stood my ground and said “I have not finished” but if it were to happen to me, I would certainly make sure that the doctor knew that a complaint was going to be filed.

    I think that GPs are now more about their compensation they receive for moving their never ending conveyor belt of people through than it is about actually curing people or making them feel better and at least listened to.

  2. I’ve seen the same GP and Specialist for years (if not decades) now, and generally (aside from the waiting, don’t really have complaints about them.
    Other doctors i’ve seen can go either way – attentive and useful, or asshat.
    I don’t go see the asshats more than twice – Once to find out they’re asshats, once for the follow up and to tell them they’re asshats.

    • LOL…I wish I could tell my GP she’s an asshat and move on, but we live in such a small community we don’t have much of a choice of asshats. Any other GP’s in the area are not taking on new patients. It’s frustrating, to say the least!!

  3. You aren’t left behnd or exempt in feeling this way. I hate doctors…most of them…for this very fact. I prefer nurse practitioners, actually. Talk about heart…they take the cake. With the heart of a nurse and none of the power trip.

      • Nurse practioners are all about shoving scripts dwn my throat.
        When I had an abcess, the first time I had it taken care of (extremely painful!), the Doctor did it….blah, no sympathy as I was crying on the bed. The last time, a nurse practitioner did the procedure and it was like night and day. She held off when I winced and asked me every step of the way, “Are you ok? Want me to stop for a minute?”
        It was very comforting in an uncomfortable situation.
        I have also found that they are more open to homepathic remedies and regularly seem to give advice on such things.

  4. Ugh, some doctors can be extremely frustrating! And sometimes their lack of professionalism can have devastating consequences…just yesterday my grandfather told me a distant cousin of mine had a cancerous mole removed from her shoulder. Well, it turns out they used dirty tools to remove it and she caught a flesh-eating bacteria that (luckily) they then caught in time and are treating with antibiotics. But it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. These are the people that are supposed to be making us better, not worse! I agree, this doesn’t go for all doctors, but it’s scary to think that this could happen anywhere!

  5. I used to ahve this problem with my primary doctor. I switched and now have a doctor who asks if he’s addressed all of my concerns before he leaves the room. He’s very warm and caring, and I’m so glad I switched.

  6. I have had dreadful experiences with doctors and they have often been the bane of my existence! I’ll give you one example here so I don’t take all day to respond to this great post.
    When my son was 2 1/2 I took him to the docs for a fever. She told me there was nothing wrong and to take him home and put him to bed. The next day he came out with a sore on his nose and mouth and was really unwell. I took him back and she said it was ‘school sores’ and not to worry about it. On day three he hadn’t slept all night and he’d developed a red ring around his neck. I took him back to the doc and when I went to get him out of the car he wouldn’t let me touch him. I tried to pick him up but the skin was ‘moving’ under his arms. I got into the surgery and told the doc my son was extremely unwell and he needed to see a paediatrician asap. She said because he walked into the surgery under his own steam he couldn’t have been that bad. I insisted on a referral to a paediatrician. She said she’d give me a referral, but not to a paediatrician – instead she gave me a referral to see a psychiatrist! She said I was ‘making things up’ and there was nothing wrong with him but I needed psychiatric help asap. I managed to get him in the car and drive across town to the paediatrician. I walked into his office and the nurse asked what I was doing. I said I wasn’t leaving until I saw the doctor. She said the doctor would see me without a referral. I said I wasn’t budging and would sit there all day until I saw the doc. He came out of his room to see what the fuss was about, took one look at my son and called an ambulance. My son had golden staph cellulitis and the paediatrician said he wouldn’t last the night. At the hospital I was grilled by doctors and nursing staff asking why I hadn’t taken him to a doctor sooner. I said he’d been to the docs every day for the last three days. It was a frickin nightmare. Over the next seven days in ICU all his skin ‘burned’ off his body and he was classified as having 2nd degree burns to 90% of his body. His fingernails and toenails fell out and he had to have lumber-punctures to test the infection of fluid around his brain.
    He survived (I’m actually shaking as I write this because it was so horrible). He’s normal now and has suffered no after effects or scarring from the burns (although the treatment they gave him left him with a lowered immune system for many years). But I often think of what would have happened had I listened to that stupid bitch of a doctor and just taken him home and waited for him to get better. It makes me so furious I’m lost for words!
    Sorry about the rant but this subject is very close to the bone for me…

    I can’t believe the doctor told your mum she only had two weeks to live – that is one of the most horrible and irresponsible things I’ve ever heard!

    • Oh Dianne….what a horrible ordeal. I’m so glad it turned out alright, but what a nightmare!!

      My mom’s health has been up and down all year and every time she sees her GP it’s always doom and gloom, but her specialist has been somewhat of a light in the diagnosis tunnel. Her situation is what it is, but she’s taking every day as it comes and we pretty much ignore what the GP says.

      It’s tough to think that the people that are trained to see the symptoms ignore the most obvious problems and seem to blow them off. I’m glad you persisted and didn’t listen to the doctor’s. Mother’s intuition is very powerful.

      • You’re mother must be an amazing woman. I had a friend who’s father was told he was going to die and he did. Then the doctor told my friend his original diagnoses was a mistake (but the mind is a very powerful thing and because my friends father ‘believed’ he was terminally ill his mind just shut down and by then it was too late). Give your mum a big hug from me 😉

  7. You absolutely are not alone in this, Poly. That’s why I became a patient advocate. Because too many people aren’t getting their needs met because doctors aren’t paying attention to them. It’s awful.

      • I know, it’s heartbreaking. They get intimidated by the doctors and feel it’s wrong to second-guess them, and then they don’t get what they need. So much difficulty could be so easily avoided if everyone just LISTENED.

  8. My almost universal experience with doctors is that they don’t really listen and always seem to be in a bustle and hustle to get away from you as fast as they possibly can. Maybe they don’t like sick people! The 10-minute appointment increments might be their way to bring precision to the waiting process (theoretically a good thing) but the built-in time limit that’s implied rubs me the wrong way. At least they are being more upfront about their desire to run assembly lines. Doctors bring a lust for money in a way you don’t quite find anywhere else. I know that when I provided services for hire I never acted in quite the same way.

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