DR. HOOK- One ringy-dingy: Why the doc doesn't call you back
"Why haven't you called me back?"
That's probably the mantra for most single women and gay men. Macy Gray sang about having had such a good time, but wonders why you haven't called her back. Sex and the City finally explained why: "He just isn't into you." And let's face it. Most guys avoid confrontation. It's easier to break up with someone on a Post-It Note (also as shown on Sex and the City) than it is to meet face-to-face.
But what does it mean when your doctor doesn't call you back?
Well, there really isn't a correlation between the dating world and the doctor-patient world. So I hope you don't think, "My doctor isn't into me" if your doc doesn't return your phone call. There are probably lots of reasons you didn't hear from him or her.
During office hours, what's your doctor doing? Seeing patients!
"Do unto others as you would others to do unto you." Would you like your doc to be interrupted by a phone call in the middle of talking about your important issues? "Ah, hold that thought while I answer a patient's phone call. Don't jump off a bridge between now and then. Seriously."
Some patients think the doctor has time to call between patients, but with 15-minute visits, that's impossible. When directed to the nurse, the patient might plead, "But it will only take a minute–" A minute in patient time would burn Minute Rice and Instant Oatmeal to a crisp.
Don't believe me? The voice mails left on my phone have the time recorded. I would say that, on average, patients' voice messages are 4-5 minutes long. I used to be guilty of leaving long voice messages, until I learned that 99 percent of my friends never listen to my messages past 15 seconds. (Of course, it didn't help I usually started each message with a 20-second song.)
I respond to all my messages: emails and phone calls. But if someone keeps emailing or calling me back every 15 seconds with the same problem, I make them come in for an appointment. If it's that important, you need to see the doctor.
I do have some folks email me a question, but then will email me 5-10 more times to question my answers. "You said to take Tylenol. Is generic okay?" Yes, that's fine. "Which generic do you recommend?" Any is fine. "Which pharmacy do you recommend?" Um, it's 8pm, and I still have 500 charts to go through.
Usually the office staff will talk to the patient, run it by the doctor, and get back to the patient. That really is the only way to survive in today's world of medicine. Doctors have to see many, many patients to keep the office afloat. That means you aren't the only patient; it in no way means you aren't important. It's just that there's one doctor and thousands of patients.
I think some doctors don't call the patient back because after working 12 hours and being sleep deprived from being on call, sometimes making phone calls at 9pm is difficult. That's why I'm the email king (or queen): I type 100 words a minute, and there isn't chit-chat-chit-chat to slow me down.
I think in the near future every doctor is going to charge for out-of office-communication. Some already do. Say "Hello" to Dr. VISA.
Dr. Hook cracks a joke or two, but he's a renowned physician with a local practice. Email him with your questions.