Showing posts with label Pet Peeve. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pet Peeve. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Patients Do Not Endorse Their Illnesses

Do medical schools teach their students how to write proper histories and physicals anymore? Some of the notes I've been reading from these new young doctors suggest that they are medically brilliant, but grammatically catachrestic. (You think I'm Shakespeare? I had to look that one up.) I've been seeing more and more medical students and residents write in their H+P's that their patients "endorse" their past medical histories. They'll say something like, "The 49 y/o WF endorses h/o HTN and DM." To my aging ears, that just sounds wrong.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of endorse is, "to publicly or officially say that you support or approve of (someone or something)," or "to publicly say that you like or use (a product or service) in exchange for money." Michael Jordan endorses Hanes underwear. Tiger Woods endorses Buicks. Whether they actually use the products they are promoting for large wads of cash is debatable.

But patients don't support or approve of their diabetes or coronary artery disease. They certainly don't receive any monetary compensation for suffering from these problems. Back in the day, we used the more proper phrase, "Patient complains of X, Y, and Z." Or "Patient has history of X, Y, and Z." We would never say the patient endorses something. That would imply they had a choice in accepting their diseases and that they received some sort of compensation for getting them.

Maybe I'm just turning into an old fart who thinks he knows what's best for the young 'uns out there. I don't approve of some of our younger anesthesiologists who wear their white iPod ear buds pushed deep into their ear canals while monitoring a patient in the operating room. I cringe when I see doctors and nurses posting on Facebook when they should be giving all their attention to the patient on the operating table. Since hospitals have converted to electronic medical records, penmanship is no longer a running joke about physicians. Now that their words are legible, it looks like doctors need to go back to finishing school to get their printed words to look appropriate for people who have had at least twelve years of post high school education.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Handicap Parking Farce

Do you ever feel like a sucker for not obtaining a handicap parking permit? I know I do when I see otherwise healthy people park in the handicap parking spot and walk away from their vehicles with nary a sign of disability. In Los Angeles people with the handicap placard on their cars can park their cars for free at the meters downtown. As a result, hundreds of cars bear the signs from their rearview mirrors, hogging up all the parking spaces. This is costing the city millions of dollars in lost revenue.

But this abuse doesn't just happen in downtown L.A.; it happens everywhere.  It is so prevalent that I feel like an idiot for not finding myself a doctor that can grant me one of these coveted signs. I was at the mall the other day and I saw a luxury Lexus SUV pull into the disabled parking spot, blue tag clearly hanging from its mirror. When it stopped, out popped four happy looking people, all in their 40's or less, walking effortlessly inside. Steaming, I continued my fruitless search circling the lot for a parking space.

At the hospital I recently saw this magnificent sports car parked in the handicap spot in the employee parking lot. It is a Shelby GT500. This badass has up to 650 horsepower, depending on model year.  I thought, "Whoa!" First the car was gorgeous. Second, why would somebody with a disability need to drive a car that can go 200 miles per hour? Now I'm not saying disabled people can't have nice cars. It's just that I have trouble picturing somebody with a history of a stroke or severe congestive heart failure needing a vehicle with this much power.

But you may retort, "Dr. Z, not all people who have handicaps display their disability openly." Therein lies the problem. How do you define disability? We all recognize that a person who suffered a stroke and needs a wheelchair to get around has a disability. But does a person with severe chronic fatigue deserve a handicap parking space? How about somebody with restless leg syndrome? They have trouble with their motor movements. They must be able to park close to their destination therefore they should get a handicap placard too, right? A few years ago, one of our neighbors was diagnosed with lung cancer. Normally I would agree that somebody getting treated for cancer deserves the placard. Years after his treatment was over, he never went back to work. He never relinquished that treasured sign either. He continued collecting the state and Social Security disability payments. Meanwhile I watched him enviously every day as he stayed at home working on his motor boat and spent time with his three sons, taking them out on weekends to the lake. It's not like he was on oxygen or had any evidence of respiratory distress. He was just one happy looking dad who had the luxury of spending all of his time at home with his family and toys. Should he still be considered handicapped?

What would be a believable disability that afflicts anesthesiologists that I could get? Back pain? Yeah we have lots of anesthesiologists around here who complain of that? Anxiety? Plenty of that too. Maybe I'll settle for recovering drug addict. Most people wouldn't bat an eye if I said I'm a recovering addict. That's already widely perceived by the public already. Then I'll get a disability placard so I can park by the front door, not giving a damn what other people think as I saunter in while they keep circling the parking lot.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Acknowledged By The New York Times!

Okay I'm just tooting my own horn a little bit here. I was reading an article by Pauline Chen, the New York Times' physician columnist. She was bemoaning the worsening shortage of primary care doctors because more medical students are choosing the ROAD fields. She defined ROAD as "radiology, ophthalmology, anesthesia (my emphasis), and dermatology." Well that immediately got under my crawl. As you readers may remember, being called "anesthesia" has always been one of my pet peeves. Pauline Chen is a liver transplant surgeon; I'm sure that's how she addresses her anesthesiologists in the OR. However I felt I had to immediately correct this professional slight.

I wrote a letter in the comment section reminding Dr. Chen and the NYT editors that anesthesiology is a highly respected medical and scientific field. We are not just "anesthesia." And to my surprise, they acknowledged that I was correct (see Comment #182). They corrected the article to read "anesthesiology." Hooray! A small victory for anesthesiology and anesthesiologists everywhere. Though few people will read down to Comment #182, thousands of people will now read that article and see "anesthesiology," a medical specialty at least equal to radiology, ophthalmology, and dermatology, not just anesthesia. I done good today.