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August 3, 2018  If you are like me, you hope your doctors will get to know you better than just a name on a patient list. Unfortunately, the system works against us; doctors are limited to 15 minutes with each patient.

Sometimes that’s all a visit requires, and that’s fine until you show up with a lot to talk about and the doctor acts like he’s dropping by to say hi on his way to hot date.

A few years ago I got lucky. I found a gabby medic. I showed up with a runny nose and bloodshot eyes. After taking my vitals in an examining room the nurse said, “The doctor will be right in.”

You know what that means.

I listened to the doctor laugh and cajole with a patient through paper-thin walls for a half-hour. Finally, I had a belly full and walked out. On the way I told the receptionist, “I’m leaving. I’ll send an invoice for my time.” Then I went home, made a dozen phone calls and kept getting turned down: “Sorry, we are not taking new patients.”

One time I went to a specialist who was a real character. (How many doctors have skis leaning against their office wall, in the desert?) We hit it off and he said, “Book my last appointment, we can jaw without a time limit.” His office was in a medical complex that functioned like a condo association. Each doctor purchased a suite, set up their practice and paid association dues. The specialist was president of the association. He told me that a cardiologist purchased a unit, began a practice and applied to be on staff at a local hospital. The hospital performed due diligence and his application was rejected.

I asked what happened. “Well,” he said, “the cardiologist had been in surgery preparing to implant a pacemaker in a patient when a nurse unwrapped the pacemaker and discovered that the cardiologist bought it oneBay.” I said, “You’ve gotta be kidding.” 

“There’s more,” he said. “During another implant procedure, the guy dropped the pacemaker on the floor, picked it up and wiped it off on his scrubs.” I said, “I hope they stopped him.” “You bet!” he said. “The surgical staff damn near tackled him.” 

The cardiologist packed up and left town leaving unpaid association dues in his wake. “Once his account is delinquent for 90 days,” the specialist said, “his ass will be mine.”

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