Emergency On-Call Physician Policy – A Doctor Dissents
- The initial text message often arrives when I am driving. Attempting this process while driving would be suicidal.
- The messages announcing the abnormalities are not given with any patient contact information or medical details. While the hospital is happy, I then have the fun and excitement of trying to find the patient’s phone number, not easy to do at 9 pm. When I can’t reach the individual, it guarantees a night of insomnia for me.
- Try listening to any radiologist’s dictation. I’ve done this many times and often cannot ascertain which language is being spoken.
I called the lab director and begged to be removed from this automated system. I argued that, while it satisfied the hospital’s documentation police, it was not serving patients or doctors well. If a test result is CRITICAL, then I want to be called by a living and breathing human being. The two of us will have what is called a conversation, providing me with sufficient knowledge so that I will be reasonably equipped when I reach out for the patient. I may want, for example, to hear results of prior tests, so that I will understand the current results in context. Get the point here?
The lab director couldn’t promise to release me from electronic bondage. Throughout the medical profession, I witness the duel between documentation and doctoring. Guess who’s winning.