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It may be tempting to dream about being presented with a list of options, preferably as colour pictures. Standing in a very short queue or better still ordering by text and minutes later collecting the order (or have it delivered) complete with a discount coupon for the next visit. You’ve heard the words:
Have a nice day
This MO has been highly successful for selling things that we have now come to realise are harmful. The young lady at the fast food counter doesn’t have to care:
- If you’ve been there before.
- What you expect from the product (other than not to be poisoned any time in the next 24 hours).
- If you can afford it (as long as you pay up today).
- If you know and understand what you are about to eat.
- Even if you enjoy the product as long as it complies with the description on the menu.
She is paid a wage and all she wants is to get through her shift and go home.
Joe (not his real name, nor any of the details below), whom I had never seen before, turned up one day and before he sat down starting fumbling through his wallet.
Won’t keep you long doctor. My own doctor is off sick, so I thought I’d pop in here.
He produced a business card from an alternative health practitioner. I noticed that he struggled to take the card out of his wallet.
I just need a letter of referral to this place
Apparently ‘this place’ won’t see patients without a ‘referral’ from a doctor. It could all have been over in less than five minutes. The letter might have said:
Thank you for seeing this man who has asked to be referred to your clinic.
It’s highly unlikely that anyone would have cared what it said as long as it was on a doctor’s letterhead. I could have collected my fee and moved to the next patient. But that’s not how I think it works. I coaxed Joe to sit down. He blinked in surprise. Was I really going to waste time when he just wanted a referral? Turns out he was a widower. He lived with his daughter. He moved to Australia 40 years ago. He was a motor mechanic until he retired and now in his late seventies he spent much of the day pottering in the garden.
That’s the problem doctor. I can’t do any weeding. My shoulders are killing me.
He described severe shoulder stiffness in the morning so much so that he occasionally asked his grandson to help him dress. The stiffness improved in the course of the day but his upper arms were still tender. He had lost weight recently but his own doctor didn’t seem too concerned. No headaches and his jaws didn’t hurt when he was eating. I couldn’t find anything wrong on examining him other than tender upper arm muscles. I had a hunch I knew what was wrong with Joe. I sent him for a blood test and arranged to see him the next day. If I was right I could fix this relatively quickly. Joe was nonplussed.
Thank you doctor. I really don’t know what’s wrong with me but my own doctor says it’s a trapped nerve and should get better. I’m in agony and the painkillers aren’t helping. But these guys at this clinic said they needed a letter before I could see them. So that’s what I was after. I will definitely come and see you again.
Joe was a frail old man, impeccably dressed with a politeness that is typical of his generation. He would have accepted anything and been grateful for it. Joe deserves the best and that doesn’t mean getting him in and out the door quickly with an insincere ‘have a nice day’. Why are colleagues encouraged to behave in this way? MacMedicine is not what the taxpayer ordered. Joe didn’t know what he needed other than pain relief. That’s not the same as being hungry and wanting a burger.
Picture by Brian Wallace