Friday, May 7, 2010

The Call

Recently, I read a piece on the value of nurses written by a friend for whom I have tremendous respect. I completely agreed with his:

“The only critical people involved in patient care are nurses…Not too long ago, a hospital was basically a clean building in a peaceful setting (!) where patients could rest and mend. That and nurses were about all anyone needed. Hospital work was charity. No MBAs, no arrogant doctors, no government red tape, no formulary of 5,000 drugs, and no cadre of specialists making large salaries to do small tasks. Oh, and by the way, no computers either. You know what? Life expectancy wasn’t that much different (if you exclude the benefits of vaccinations and reduced infant mortality.) Costs were a lot lower. No one got rich in healthcare. Without all the research, the computerization, the fancy architecture, and the lack of John Wayne "I will not let this patient die" heroics, things weren’t really all that much worse when it came to living and dying.”

Agreed, that is, until now.

Right up until I got The Call.

Most of you will never get The Call, thank God. The Call can really suck.

The Call is one physician, usually a specialist, taking time to call another physician about special concerns they have regarding a mutual patient’s diagnostic or prognostic situation. The Call is made when it is deemed especially important to relay difficult-to-address issues as clearly as humanly possible. The Call is made when there is a significant dilemma or a suspicion of grave outcome potential. The Call trumps the consultant’s follow-up letter by several orders of magnitude.

The Call is intended to be a kindness, a professional-to-professional reaching out and respect. It is meant to help relay health information at a deeper level. It is medico to medico speaking very frank medical-ese, uncouched and direct.

The Call is OK, even helpful, when it helps you understand more clearly how to best counsel or treat a patient or parent that is facing a more difficult or a more complex or a higher-degree-of-chance-for-negative-outcome medical issue.

The Call has its sucky side, because it means someone you know, someone you help care for, has a more complicated problem.

The Call completely sucks when it is regarding your own child.

Right now, it is highly trained specialists and some high tech diagnostic and surgical tools including certain computer technology which stand between my youngest son and a lifetime of pain, suffering, and the disfigurement of his beautiful little face.

I love nurses and I fully “get” their value. But, right now, after The Call, I have a completely different take on the value of John Wayne.

Today, from the father, not the trenches...

"My grandfather always said that living is like licking honey off a thorn." - Louis Adamic


1 comment:

cora said...

Dr Gregg, my condolences, I am very sorry to hear about this situation. Hoping for the best outcome,