Letters: Readers comment on Medical Economics stories

May 25, 2011

Letters discuss geriatric medicine, rural family physicians, honesty, and bedside manner.

A refreshing read

What an excellent piece! ("Lucky to be me," [by Richard E. Waltman, MD], April 10 issue).

With all the doom and gloom we read, it is refreshing to read that a family practice colleague practices and feels the way I do about our geriatric practice. I can relate to what Dr. Waltman wrote in every single paragraph.

We occasionally have medical students rotate through here doing a rural elective. This article will be mandatory reading for them. I talk about these things to our young student doctors, and now, they can see it in print.

Very well done!

MIKE COCHRAN, MD
Crockett, Texas

Mutual sentiment

After 30 years as a rural family physician, I share Dr. Waltman's thoughts and gratitude ("Lucky to be me," April 10 issue) and feel lucky, yes, even blessed, to be me.

SCOTT S. EKDAHL, DO
Chino Valley, Arizona

Back to basics

When I read the statement from Steven Krause, MD, (in "Practice mini-makeovers," April 25 issue) about how "patients aren't used to getting calls from doctors themselves," and the fact that he now sometimes calls patients with test results, I have to ask myself, when did the practice of medicine change from when this was acceptable and routine?

With technology booming, electronic health records (EHRs) the talk of the town, e-mails, texting, and the home medical model, why don't we all just get back to the basics?

Smile when you enter the room, engage in eye-to-eye contact with your patients, write a note in the chart or via EHR about their last vacation or their profession, ask them how their last vacation was, call them the next day if they truly are ill and see how they are doing, visit or call them in the hospital (even if it is a social visit, no billing code needed for that), or attend the occasional wake (you will know when you should attend).

Send a sympathy card to the family when one of your patients passes away, personalize it, and you will find the appreciation from the family cannot be measured.

Our practice has been calling all of our patients with their lab results for the past 25 years.

I am blessed with the fact I have never been sued, but when all of the above aspects of a practice are taken care of, I firmly believe patients will respect and honor your profession.

DAVID MCCLURE, MD
Bel Air, Maryland

Honesty still best policy

The article "How to feel good when writing sick notes" (by Lee J. Johnson, JD [April 10 issue]) was a fresh look at a perennial problem.

More than 10 years ago, when this same subject was covered in Medical Economics, I suggested another solution to the problem, one that has worked well for me throughout my career.

The solution is this: Give the patient a note simply stating, for example, "Mr. Doe states that he was ill yesterday with bronchitis."

This is honest, gives the patient the best documentation available to the physician, and has never failed to appease the employer's need for confirmation.

CHUCK PILCHER, MD, FACEP
Kirkland, Washington