Can You Tell Me In Five Words Or Less?

November 8, 2010

I can ramble on. I can write lengthy sentences without punctuation that would make any English teacher cringe. I can carry on and on. On the other hand, when I am speaking to a patient, a pharmacist, a nurse, or a referring physician, I can’t just click on an X and make them go away. I can’t fast forward to the good part, the stuff I really care about.

Yes, I know. I can ramble on. I can write lengthy sentences without punctuation that would make any English teacher cringe. I can carry on and on. But you, dear reader, can choose to not read my blog (but seriously, please keep reading). 

On the other hand, when I am speaking to a patient, a pharmacist, a nurse or a referring physician, I can’t just click on an X and make them go away. I can’t fast forward to the good part, the stuff I really care about.

So when I ask a patient a yes-or-no question, and they proceed to say, “Well…you see, back in 1979…”, I sit and hold my breath and my tongue. Depending on my schedule and the patient, I may gently attempt to get them to refocus. Sometimes, it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

I will also get calls from referring physicians who don’t seem to be rushed or have any sense of urgency. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate it when a doc gives me a heads up on their patients. But when the conversation goes, “Hi, I wanted to talk to you about a patient. You know, three days ago, this happened, then I treated her for this. Then I asked the nurse to do this…etc, etc…and she’s still in the hospital.” Uh, ok. “Does that mean you want me to see her?” “Well, I wanted to know what you thought about the case.”

Then after telling Dr. Referrer what I thought, he says. “OK, so do you think you can see her?” And instead of saying, “Why couldn’t you just say ‘I have a consult for you. I think she has disease x’?,” I just say, “sure, I’ll be happy to see her.”

And then there’s the clerk at the hospital who leaves a message after hours. “Hello. This is Jane, from Hospital B. We’re on the 4th floor. I’m calling about a patient. His name is John Doe. J-O-H-N D-O-E. He’s being referred for diabetes mellitus. The referring physician is Dr. Smith S-M-I-T-H.” Followed by the phone number being rattled off at 100 mph.

Please, people. Time is of the essence. Yes, I want the necessary information, but can you give it me in fve words or less?