Table of Contents

How to navigate this blog

As chapters are published weekly be sure to search for any unread chapters in the list before reading the current post. Feel free to add questions or comments regarding what you have read.

I appreciate your support with this project.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Taking a little time out... to be human.

One of the things that I keep getting reminded about, in my daily rounds as a physician, is just how I should be doing things "better." After all, patient satisfaction scores on surveys sent to patients after discharge, are abysmally low. But more on that later.

More to the point - I do try to provide rational, caring, and expert care to my patients. And insofar as I am able, to help them heal; or if not, to provide comfort and knowledge of their condition, so as to alleviate anxiety. But, I tell you, it is getting harder by the day. Ever since our hospital has gone to Electronic Health Records (EHR), it now takes me an extra twenty to forty minutes per patient, to make it through the day. It is said that EHR will improve reliability, and documentation - and to that I say: NONSENSE! And patient care is not factored into the equation at all - just the measurable outcomes. And to make matters even worse, the computers DO NOT WORK! Even if one of the computers has a particular software glitch in it, the next computer has some different glitch, and all this takes time (and by that I do not mean time spent with patients).

Well, you get the picture. The medicine of today is best practiced by young, computer-savvy new graduates, who know how to beat the system, and which shortcuts work, and which ones do not. And better yet, which ones will improve patient outcome surveys! But, as a rule, these new graduates do not know that a stethoscope is an instrument that you have to place in your ears, and then, of all things, actually LISTEN while the other end is in contact with the patient. And the issue of actually making rational decisions based upon what you hear, is rendered absurd by all of the tests available to the savvy young internist of today.

Anyway, while all this goes on, my sense of humanity reminds me that my own sister is up in Iowa, under hospice care. And that means that she is actually dying. And I'm trying to find the time to go up and visit her one more time (at least), while she is still coherent. And then, as my own humanity comes crashing down around my head, I am trying to write the next book in my series of six. More on that in a later post.

Well let me tell you that I took a step back from all the chaos in my life right now, and I did what I advocate for my younger colleagues to do - I listened. And not just random listening, but listening to one particular piece of music, one of the twentieth century's true masterpieces. It is an absolutely beautiful, understated, moving piece of utterly transcendent music - The Requiem, by Gabriel Faure. And in particular, a performance by Robert Shaw, which distills to the absolute core the masterpiece which it is. I cannot even begin to tell you what that half hour of music is capable of doing - you do really need to listen to it yourselves, quietly, with no distractions - just listen and let the music do what it alone is capable of doing.

After hearing once more the Faure Requiem, I am somehow able to process better all the disgusting folderol of my work. And isn't it ironic that the UCLA Medical center had to abruptly stop their pursuit of high patient satisfaction scores, because (get this) the patients who were enrolled in their survey were found to have much higher morbidity and mortality rate than the control group. I have my own thoughts on why.

No comments:

Post a Comment