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.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:
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.
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.Where is this physician-rich planet? Texas, you say?
"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."
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