Why you can’t phone the doc

by Walter Olson on April 12, 2010

Pediatric Insider:

…Defensive medicine costs you more than money. When was the last time you asked for telephone advice? Doctors are very, very leery of giving meaningful advice over the phone, because we can’t take the risk of this kind of conversation in front of a jury…

Everything we say and do is supposed to be documented, too – to defend ourselves. Every wonder why the doc spends so much time scribbling in the chart, instead of talking to you? It’s not because we like writing. It’s because every single day we’re reminded that the chart is our only defense.

Do you think this hasn’t increased health care costs? Do you think it hasn’t affected the relationships doctors have with patients?

{ 7 comments }

1 Wayne 04.12.10 at 6:32 pm

I have never had a problem getting my doctor or my childrens’ doctors to talk to me over the phone. Maybe you just have a crappy doctor.

2 SmartDoc 04.12.10 at 7:48 pm

With the massive cuts in Medicare funding ($500 Billion) in ObamaCare, expect a lot less in the way of unreimbursed phone contacts, assuming you can even find a doctor taking on new Medicare patients.

3 Ben Glass 04.12.10 at 8:07 pm

the real reason is that doctors don’t give phone advice is because they haven’t figure out a way to charge for it… docs who run concierge practices, requiring a monthly fee for access, but limiting the number of patients they do have in the program, do communicate by phone and email…so its probably not the ‘defensive medicine’ gambit but rather docs who allowed the health insurance industry to dictate their incomes because they (the docs) refused to learn how to run a profitable business…not one made the docs ‘take all the patients Blue Cross will send me, at 35 cents on the dollar’ but that’s the choice they made…docs could cure their economic problems by saying “look, we don’t take insurance anymore..we’ll charge a fair fee and attract the kinds of patients who are willing to pay a fair fee… what we really need is a true free market in health care…get Obama and his takeover out.

4 Rious 04.12.10 at 8:34 pm

My doctor has set up hours early in the morning once a week where his patients can call him

I like this as I know he will be available at that time and he gives as much info as he can at that time

5 Sara B. 04.12.10 at 10:15 pm

My kids’ doctor was always great at talking to me on the phone. I knew him for nearly 7 years before we moved, though, and we have 4 kids. We were there a lot… :D

6 j 04.13.10 at 10:55 am

Not to mention the fact that proper charting is necessary to ensure that all physicians treating a patient are aware of what has been done and discussed with the patient. Rigorous charting is part of the standard of care that physicians have set for themselves — as it is necessary for proper medical care.

7 HawgGuy 04.14.10 at 1:40 pm

Living in a small town I get tons of calls at home (my number’s in the book). Sadly, for the majority of late night calls, I routinely close with “go to the ER if you’re not sure” to cover myself. Now that’s expensive advice. Were I slightly less paranoid, I might otherwise give different advice, or have them followup with me in office.

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