March 22, 2014

What Happens to Your Cell Phone When Seeing a Doctor?

This question has more to it than most people consider. I have a friend that says if the doctor has his pager off and his cell phone silent then he will put his cell on silent. I have another friend that will not put his cell phone on silent. Personally, I shut my cell phone off once I enter the reception area.

I have had several of my doctors say they are on call and that their pager is on when he/she comes into the exam room. This I can accept and appreciate the necessity. Only once did a doctor have to leave the exam room and not come back. His aid had instructions of what to do and I was rescheduled as I am sure several other patients were.

Another doctor had his aid knock on the door and entered when he answered. She asked him to step out of the room as there was an emergency. I could hear his aid say that his wife had just been brought into the emergency room and the ER doctor wanted him present. I could hear him state to give me my lab results and reschedule me as soon as possible. When rescheduling was complete, I asked the person if she had room for notes. She did and I gave her my cell phone number and said I would reschedule even farther out if he required more time for his wife. She thanked me for that.

Cell phones are becoming a distraction during office visits. Many physicians have posted signs in the waiting room and every exam room asking people to silence their cell phones or turn them off. I would like to discuss this further and suggest some courtesies for patients and physicians.

#1. When a patient is seeing a doctor, either shut off the cell phone or put it on silent. Even saying that, there are some legitimate reasons to inform the doctor that you have your cell phone on. I won't list every reason, but caregivers are at the top of the list. If an elderly family member is seriously ill or near the end of life, your doctor should understand your concern. However, some physicians will not, and a few are so puffed up with their own self importance that they have been known to kick patients out and tell them to find another doctor.

Occasionally a parent will have a sick child that they left with a baby sitter or relative. While instructions have been given, emergencies are still possible.

#2. The doctors should notify the patient that he is on call when he enters the exam room. Some doctors are considerate, but most are not considerate and figure it is none of your business. The inconsiderate doctors then wonder why patients wait until almost appointment time to cancel their appointment. I know I would wait until I was almost ready to leave for the appointment and then call and ask if the doctor happened to be on call that day. If he was, I would cancel my appointment. I have over an hour to travel to be at the doctor's office and could not afford to lose the two hours plus, if he was on call and ended up not seeing me.

#3. Both patients and doctors should realize that courtesy is a two way street and respect the other person. If you are on either end of the this situation, treasure the patient or doctor that has respect for you.

This blog by a doctor shows an unusual patience that most doctors would not put up with or allow a patient to do.

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