Fresh Paint
Thursday, August 19, 2004
Pencil My Tumor In for 2005, Sometime
Same-Day Doctor Visit Gains Steam in U.S.

I thought that one of the big arguments against a national health care system was that people didn't want to have to wait for service. Well, son of a gun, they are anyway!
The majority of patients, however, still wait for their care. A recent survey in 15 cities found that the average wait for a cardiology exam was 19 days. The average wait was 24 days for a dermatology appointment, and 23 days for an obstetrics-gynecology exam, according to the survey by Merritt, Hawkins & Associates, a national firm that recruits medical workers.

Boston, despite a worldwide reputation for medical care, had the longest waits in three of the categories surveyed.

Kurt Mosley of the Dallas-based MH&A said the biggest hurdle for open access is persuading doctors to rethink their scheduling habits.
Scheduling habits, huh? That's all? I had a lump once that terrified me, but I hadn't been to a doctor since I'd left grad school. Since I theoretically had health insurance at the time, I opened my PPO handbook and picked a doctor's name off the list and called the office. And then another name. And then another. I got 2 types of responses:

1) "We're not taking any new patients" or
2) "I can get you in at the end of November..." (I was calling sometime in June).

After getting these responses repeatedly, I finally yelled at a snippy receptionist, "I might be dying! Why don't you get it?" She said, "Well, if you think it's all that important, you better get yourself to the emergency room!"

Well, I would have, but my plan didn't allow non-emergency visits to an emergency room.

Eventually I found someone who would see me the following week for a few minutes simply because I was crying hysterically.

So I beg your pardon, but I don't believe a word of this article. I don't believe things have got better and that doctors everywhere in this wonderfully convenient world of on-demand medicine are waving people in right now.

I am planning to discover a suspicious, lumpy tumor sometime in 2005, so pencil me in. Until then, I am filled with awe reading passages such as this:
The movement [ed. same-day appointments] is growing slowly but steadily, said Mosley, whose own doctor in Texas has adopted the practice. It came in handy last month when he noticed a bruise on his leg before leaving town on a business trip. He called his doctor, got a same-day appointment, and learned the bruise was from a spider bite.

"He got me on antibiotics right away," Mosley said. "I would have been on the road and my leg would have ballooned like a sausage."
Where is this physician-rich planet? Texas, you say?

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