The good and bad of family medicine.

Happy New Year!  My apologies to anyone who is actually reading this blog, on my tardiness.  Since the beginning of the new year, it has been very busy, between the office, my home and personal life.

I received a lovely letter today from a colleague in our FHO.  I saw her patient in the after hour’s clinic last fall and followed up with the patient for a few days to ensure she was okay and even sent a note to the family doctor regarding the matter.  In the letter, the physician thanked me for going above and beyond for her patient and told me the patient was doing well and had a speedy recovery thanks to me.  She ended the letter stating that she was glad that our group had a doctor like me.

Well, can I tell you, that just about made my day.

The day to day work of a family doctor can be a thankless job.  I had a patient complain  because it took me two days (2 days!) to fax a referral to the specialist.  I guess patients really don’t think that I have about a million other things to do before I can get to their referral.  It’s rare that I don’t do it the day they ask for it.  I’ve been a bit distracted lately, but I’m human right? I’m entitled to be off my game – so long, of course, that I don’t harm anyone while I’m off.  And really, 2 days to get a referral faxed really isn’t that big a deal.  If I felt she needed to be seen urgently, you can damn well know that that referral would have been faxed the same day.

I sometimes wish I didn’t have almost 1000 patients on my roster list.  It’s really easy to lose track of people, kids especially.  Earlier last month, a father brought in his almost 3 year old son who didn’t have an appointment (the father did).  The father has been under tremendous stress w/ a marriage break up and was concerned about his son.  A family friend thought the child might be autistic.  I checked the child’s chart – the last time he was seen was at his 18 month well- baby visit.  The moment I set eyes on this child, I had the heart-sink moment.  He didn’t engage with me, there was no eye contact and he spent most of the visit talking incoherently and hitting his stuffed animal against the exam-room table.  How could I have missed this at the 18 month visit?  I searched my notes – there was no indication of speech delay at that time, but the parents said he was speaking their ethnic language, and imitating what English he heard on the television.  I felt terrible.  Thankfully, he’s going to be seeing the pediatrician in the next few weeks.  But then I reminded myself that I’m not that child’s parent and it wasn’t my fault he hadn’t been seen in a year and a half.  Small consolation though.




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