Yes, of course we chose a medical job to help people. We are physicians to do what is best for the patient. We are physicians because we are altruistic, selfless people who want to help fight to preserve the health and well being of others. Well. Unfortunately, doctors are humans too. Do we have no rights? Our health and well being can be crushed by the demands of patients who don’t respect what we do. What ABOUT THE PHYSICIANS? I had a terrible emergency one day in my clinic. A patient had to have an emergent procedure delaying me by a half an hour. One of my patients, a successful TV executive, had to wait a half an hour before being seen due to this delay. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “Henry, my time is more valuable than yours. I don’t have my producers wait this long. This is absolutely ridiculous to have me wait like this.” I apologized profusely about his wait time and explained that I had a patient with a life threatening emergency that I had to take care of. The patient continued complaining.
I quickly had flashbacks about how I missed seeing my baby today so I could see a patient in the emergency room. I remembered how last night, I was on the phone with a patient for over an hour comforting him as his mother passed away. Today, I would have to skip lunch as I had two inpatients that needed to be seen. I was REALLY tempted to blurt out to this patient, “Well, is your time really more valuable? Are you trying to save someone’s life who is about to die in the middle of your day? Did you spend decades of your life trying to help people survive horrible diseases, studying for hours on end, competing to stay at the very top of the highest academic institutions? Did you sacrifice thousands of difficult, underpaid, sleepless nights in hospitals so you could help the sick? No Sir. So get the hell out of this office.” (Note again. I didn’t say this.)
But no. I gently nodded and smiled and proceeded to calmly examine the patient. I knew that as a doctor I have to be a chump to honor my reputation, keep my referral sources, and of course protect the Patients’ Bill of Rights. Otherwise, I will have to spend the rest of my life fighting negative internet reviews, reports to the medical board, and malpractice claims by these entitled patients. Yes! I am getting exhausted holding in my frustration when I am yelled at by patients. I remember waiting for my own doctor for well over an hour before he could see me on several occasions. I never complained. I knew that my doctor wasn’t on the beach sipping a margarita, but was working his tail off trying to do the best job for his patients. When I signed up for a medical job, I am certain I didn’t waive my rights to be treated with respect. But, do we even have that right? Isn’t it time for a Doctors’ Bill of Rights???
Henry Mann MD