Friday, November 05, 2010

Can you hear me now?

A discussion on Medscape Physican Connect begins as follows:

My patient's cell phone rang in the middle of his medical visit yesterday. I was fully expecting him to react as I would in such a situation: apologize and turn his phone off. Instead, he jumped up off the exam table, flipped open his phone and proceeded to talk to his wife for several minutes while I waited to resume the exam. This is a patient I have a good rapport with and have known for a long time. I asked him to please turn his phone off during our appointments from now on. However, I can't help but think: isn't that just common sense? I know patients talk on their cell phones in the waiting room, but am I crazy to think that cell phones have no place during a medical exam? I am tempted to post a sign in my office room saying "All cells phones and guns must be checked in at the door". Has anyone had any similar experiences? If so, what has helped you to curb this rude behavior among your patients?

The best comment:

I had a family come in all texting on their own phones during the visit. The girl continued texting during the exam, even on her back during the abdominal exam. The mother finally told her this was rude. I really think they were texting each other.


Anonymous said...

Physicians may not be used to being ignored by their patients. If so (and out of view), it may be called 'noncompliance'. As a patient, I have had a physician walk in the room, give me a shot and leave without saying goodbye. By the hospital bed they may talk to nurses without acknowledging the person they are talking to. Patients wait hours in waiting rooms while doctors do lots of other non-emergency things rather than keep an appointment (that patients are expected to be on time to). Cellphone manners are pretty bad across the board in society, but what may ring here too is a decreasing respect of hierarchy. Perhaps, beside the "please turn off cellphones" sign there should be a "things you should expect from your physician".

Bruce said...

From Facebook:

Giving a friend a ride home, I was 'alone' 'cause she was yakking away on the cell. I called her on my cell and told her to knock it off.

Vicki said...

From Facebook:

Paul, please tell that poor Doc that common sense is in very short supply today. In fact, I think that it's something that doctors ought to look for a cure for.
P.S. I was in a meeting yesterday where a group of volunteers (many) were told to use their common sense. My first thought: Uh-Oh!

Common courtesy is the other missing link today - they go together. This patient could have been missing common sense if he was still in possession of common courtesy.

Jessica said...

From Facebook:

Turning tables, so to speak. Took twin grandsons for routine 1-yr-old blood tests this morning and the technician answered her cell phone while drawing blood! Unsuccessful in getting the sample, she consulted someone else who told her she was using the wrong needle and vial size for pediatrics. So...rude and incompetent.

Dr. Jon Slater said...

Texting can be good or bad. For sensitive exams in pediatrics, texting can be a distraction. Just a thought...

Anonymous said...

While my physician was conducting my physical exam, her cell phone rang, and she proceeded to take that personal call for a good five minutes while I sat on the exam table. This was something that she could have prevented, and opted not to do. At the end of the appointment, she firmly declared in full confidence that I did not have the disease that we feared. But I can't help but question her clinical judgment and wonder if she really listened to me and examined me thoroughly. She meant to give me peace of mind, but I came out feeling worse than before.

My point is that, for both patients and caregivers, this is not just an issue of courtesy, but of quality and safety. For caregivers, the reasons are obvious. For patients, their active participation and information is necessary for the caregivers to do their job correctly.

Sheila said...

My answer is this to this rude behavior.

Sign saying: "In order for a proper exam to take place. please turn off your cell phone."

"This is not the time you should be on your cell phone when examined
kindly turn your cell phone off."

Carole said...

There needs to be civility on all sides--from the patient AND the physician.

Physicians need to earn respect and not expect reverence. That said, everyone needs to be be more polite when it comes to cell phone usage. Your health is important and I don't think that you can advocate for yourself if you are texting or taking calls during your exam.

Anonymous said...

Carole has said it perfectly.

Helen Hunter said...

Carole has summed the issues up very well on both sides.
Re the courtesy displayed by physicians: I recently heard someone's personal account of being seen by a doctor in preparation for radiotherapy. He walked in on the naked female patient, spoke not a word, drew over the patient, then left the room and the remaining assessments to a colleague. That's not just a lack of courtesy; to the patient that is a lack of humanity.