Wednesday, June 20, 2007

How doctors think...

In appreciation of a recent hilarious (but disturbingly accurate) post by Ten out of Ten, I'll offer this post.

For all folks outside of the medical field, this is some helpful inside information.

There are a number of things that you can say to any doctor or nurse that will cause us to involuntarily roll our hidden proverbial eyes and take everything else you say less seriously.

Though this list is intended to be humorous, I'm dead serious. If your doctor or nurse is skilled, you won't see or hear the eye roll, but trust me, it's there. I'd strongly recommend avoiding these interchanges if you can help it (unless you really have multiple allergies).

1. "My normal temperature is 97, so 99.1 is a fever for me."
2. Having more than 3 allergies (or anyone allergic to benadryl).
3. Being on a cell phone or getting a call and responding in any way other than immediately getting off the phone.
4. Rating pain anywhere close to 10/10, unless you are in writhing. Trust me, we've seen people in 10/10 pain. We know what it looks like.
5. Talking about your pain threshhold. If I've been your doctor, I already know what it is.
6. Stumbling on names of controlled substances. If you really want Percocet, saying "I think it's called percy-, perco-, perky-something" doesn't make us think you're anything but scamming.

Doctors enter every patient visit with thousands of previous patient visits as guides, and we involuntarily tack baggage onto patients and complaints. Avoiding the above comments may improve your ability to communicate your complaint effectively to your doctor.

PS On a slightly related note, when your doctor asks you "How long?", "a while" is not a useful answer. Neither is "a good while", "a long time", "a bit", or "dunno". We're looking for a number followed by a unit of time. If you answer "3 weeks" your doctor will smile. You may not see it, but it's there.


Hostile in Ohio said...

What if you DO know your normal body temperature? Mine is NOT 98.6...sorry...I can't fix that...

I know my temp because I checked it for fertility charting with a basal thermometer and, out of curiosity, regularly throughout the day while I was charting (currently in LAM).

If a temp on me reads 99.8 that is high for me. I wouldn't call it a "fever" though.

Maybe that's the difference?

Hostile in Ohio said...

BTW found your blog through a comment on Dinosaur's blog...

Thank you for making that comment. Your point 5 was particularly important in my opinion. I think the doctors who use only "Sweet-Ease" and claim the "baby slept right through it" are out of their minds...or perhaps trtying to convine themselves and and avoid telling parents the pain they inflicted on their baby...

I feel rather strongly about circumcision, but if one is going to choose to remove part of their son's body, then they should AT LEAST use proper pain prevention. And no "local" is going to cut it (no pun intended).

Dr. Smak said...

Turns out the average rectal temp is really 98.2, not 98.6, and oral temps tend to be a bit lower (about a degree). And don't forget we're speaking averages here, so half the population has a normal body temperature less than 98.6.

The problem, Hostile, lies not in the fact that you may have a lower than average body temperature than the average population. The problem is that 4 out of 5 people who report that fact to their doctor are in the group of patients that we dread seeing on the schedule.

I can't explain it, just reporting the facts...

Xavier Emmanuelle said...

I wouldn't think that being allergic to benadryl was possible, but my Dad's entire face swells up so that he can hardly open his eyes if he takes an antihistamine, so there are some people who truly have that allergy.