The Patient’s Name

Medical Building“Good morning…” (the doctor looks to the top of the screen) “…Bob. How are you this morning?”

There must be a class on using the patient’s name.

Registration had proceeded normally: name, date of birth, has your address changed?

“I was here two days ago.”

The clerk said, “We’ve got to make sure that we have the right patient”.

“You have my picture. How can it not be me?”

Why bother asking my name? The providers don’t care what my name is. They rarely look at me anyway. They’re always staring at their laptop or their tablet.

Some exam rooms have a large screen built right into the wall.

What are they looking at?

Medical BuildingMy results? My numbers, my x-rays, my chart; all the things that represent ‘me’ to them. Not me. Not my name.

It doesn’t matter if I get the same doctor or one of the partners on my next visit. They never remember anything about me, anyway.

My wife and I had left the doctor’s office with orders to get an x-ray. While she waited in radiology, I went to the cafeteria for some coffee and ran into the same doctor in the hallway. I said hello and he smiled and said hello with no recognition in his eyes. No idea who I was. We had been in his office less than twenty minutes before.

It’s a production line for them. Not people; pieces. Part after part; a conveyor of parts to repair. An assembly line.

They get paid by the part, by throughput. Not by making your parts better, but by dealing with your parts: diagnosis, treatment, orders, prescription. They don’t get paid to know your name.

Deal with the part. On to the next part.

Medical BuildingPerhaps we get more objective diagnosis and treatment that way. They can step back, not get involved, and give a more considered opinion.

Are they concerned? Do they actually think about me? Mull over my problem?

Can you imagine a doctor sitting back in his lounger, watching Thursday night football, and suddenly, he sits up straight and says, “Wow. I have a great idea on what’s wrong with Bob. Let me call him.”

The truth is, he does not even know there is a Bob.

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