Is inconvenience to the patient really necessary ? By Paul Sparkes The

patient's convenience. Is there such sense. I needed new glasses, so in March thing? Is it possible to consider a I contacted an ophthalmologist. I was told that the earliest time I could get patient's convenience? Question a cross-section of patients an appointment was October. They and there will be a fair number of didn't even want me to make the ap¬ complaints about lack of consideration pointment until July! Well, I couldn't from doctors and, particularly, hos¬ wait that long, so I went to our family doctor a GP. He examined my eyes pitals. There is the case of the woman who in a few minutes and then referred me lived in a small, almost isolated com¬ to the same specialist! My appointment munity on Newfoundland's west coast. was set for April. You see, the GP She was directed to report to hospital gets his $5.50 from medicare for the for examination. The town where the visit and the specialist collects about hospital was located was some miles $15 for the referral. Is it crooked? I'll distant. To get there, the woman had leave that to you. The ophthalmologist to ride a bus over a rough, gravel road. will probably argue that he's so busy She reported on time but after a period he can only see problems and it takes of waiting was informed that she could a GP first of all to diagnose a prob¬ not be accommodated. She would have lem." to come back another day. Patricia G., young mother of two: Perhaps it is simply a matter of poor "At the Janeway Children's Hospital in planning or human failing. It may have St. John's I feel they've got a lackanothing to do with the medical pro¬ daisical attitude. The waiting is dreadfession or medical services. Undoubted¬ ful. Sometimes, I understand, you have ly there is waiting and inconvenience in to wait because there's no doctor other public services. But when health he's probably on call. I had to bring my is involved, it is aggravating. little girl to the hospital once. After Charlie B., a plant worker in St. waiting some time, the nurses put her in John's has one of these complaints. an examining room to wait for the doc¬ "Last year I cut my thumb badly on tor. But the child was there alone for an one of the machines. After it healed, hour! You can imagine I was pretty the nail grew at an odd angle so I upset, especially listening all the time had to have plastic surgery to put it to the nurses talking about what they right. The hospital told me to come were going to do for lunch!" down a week from my last visit, so I did just that... even took the day off from work. But when I got there, Getting to know you they had more serious things (I supTo some patients, the solution lies pose) scheduled for surgery so they put in being known, almost in making an me off indefinitely! I only wish they'd called and told me hospitals never acquaintance of the doctor. Frank N.: "If you can settle in early with a doc¬ seem to care that you're making all kinds of arrangements!" tor, you'll have no trouble getting him Another type of inconvenience goes when you need him. Twenty-three years perhaps a little deeper: John S., com¬ ago I cut my thumb on a saw when I pany comptroller: "I think this business was working in the plant. I was rushed of being referred for an eye test is non- to this particular doctor and I've been a





going to the same one ever since. Now I've got no problem seeing him. I even got him to come to the house once to see my mother when she had such a bad cold I thought she'd developed

pneumonia!" There

those who can feel no medical people when pa¬ inconvenienced. Some, how¬


sympathy for

tients ever,

are see it as a new

mostly by




complaint, brought

the great demand on a demand created by medi¬


One young St. John's businessman it this way: "Socialized medicine


is creating a dependence in us. My wife, for example; I'm sure that when she was a child, she didn't go to the doctor anything like the number of times our two children go. The service is there, and it's free... so of course we take advantage of it! I can confirm state¬ ments about dependence made by Andrew Malleson in his book, "Need Your Doctor Be So Useless?". No matter how well intentioned doc¬ tors and nurses may be in seeing that patients do not wait great periods or get sudden appointment changes, the situation may never change. There is pressure on medical facili¬ ties almost every where. It is bound to happen that patients feel like so many numbers. Consideration for the individual's comfort is going to take second place to getting him in and out of the doctor's office. But when hospitals and their per¬ sonnel do not care, word gets around. People do notice. Since that is the case, it would not be amiss for medical per¬ sonnel to take stock of the situation. Awareness would be the first step in rectifying the situation. Otherwise, as time goes on, the problem could quite easily be compounded.B

CMA JOURNAL/JANUARY 25, 1975/VOL. 112 227

Is convenience to the patient really necessary?

Is inconvenience to the patient really necessary ? By Paul Sparkes The patient's convenience. Is there such sense. I needed new glasses, so in March...
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