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Monday, May 27, 2013

CULTURE SHOCK

Susie and I are not spring chickens.  She is eighty, and I am a lad of seventy-nine.  We have been coming to our apartment in Paris for nine years, and by an extraordinary stroke of good fortune, we have in all that time not needed a doctor.  But clearly it is feckless and irresponsible of us not to have made some sort of connection with a doctor to whom we could turn in time of need.  So I went on line and found a list, posted by the American Embassy, of English-speaking doctors in Paris, one of whom is located rather near us off rue Monge.  I wrote to her, got a reply, had our Chapel Hill doctor fax her our medical records, and came to Paris planning to make an appointment for an initial visit some time during our stay.

Last week I wrote to her again, and today I received a reply.  I was so stunned by it that I read it twice, and then read it aloud to Susie.  Here it is, verbatim:

"Dear M. Wolff, I hope for you a much better weather for June! I could come and visit you Thursday afternoon around 3pm. Would it be convenient for you. Yes, I received your records, I will read them now you are in Paris.  Please send me everything I need to reach your apartment.
See you soon, sincerely"


I am deeply ashamed to admit that when I read this, my first thought was, "Maybe she is not such a good doctor."  I mean, who ever heard of a doctor who makes house calls?  I figure she is either about twelve, or else about ninety-five and hasn't heard about recent developments in medicine.

Obamacare indeed!

6 comments:

formerly a wage slave said...

Exactly right. How is it that the fragile elderly---and I mean older than you---in the USA must travel to doctors much younger than themselves? I understand that when equipment available at a doctor's office is needed this may make sense. But, I would think that basic humanity dictates that it is easier for a young doctor to travel than an elderly person, and that it is easier for a healthy doctor to travel than a sick person. There's something else involved here, as well. I used to transport my elderly parents to the doctor, and so,I was tied up with travelling and waiting (almost always waiting, sometimes for hours without explanation.) But when I did so I also saw other adult children doing the same thing--their time used up as well. (And being placed in a room with a "large screen" TV displaying political propaganda AND advertising medical products is really abuse!) What's really efficient? For children and/or care-givers to transport the elderly to doctors? Or, would it be better for doctors to come to their patients? --As far as I know, this question is not even asked in public in the USA.....

Robert Paul Wolff said...

The reason, unfortunately, is transparently obvious. Doctors are required to generate a certain amount of revenue, to which end they schedule patients every fifteen minutes [or even twelve or ten minutes], and a large support staff process the patients through, check them in, take their blood pressure, etc., and put them in holding rooms so that the high priced doctor can move efficiently from room to room, spending the minimum time necessary with each patient. It would be "inefficient" for the doctor to travel to the patients, who are assumed to have nothing else to do with their time save wait patiently to be called. The entire American medical system is built on this model.

ajrosa said...

This is unbelievable!! I hope all is well over there. Regards to Susie.

formerly a wage slave said...

Yes, yes, the "reason" is obvious, and it is unfortunate. And, forgive me if I am being pedantic. But, in the case of the frail elderly, it is not merely their time which is considered to have no value, but also the family member or helper whose time is spent transporting and/or waiting with them. (I've just seen your up-date on your doctor's re-evaluation of your condition.) And, of course, it is a fiction that the doctor spends fifteen minutes per patient.....In my experience over three years of helping my parents, two hours was not an uncommon waiting time, though I cannot say it was an average.

formerly a wage slave said...

As a matter of fact, there's a lot to be said about the idiocy of doctors. You may, using your knowledge of French, wish to replace that harsh word with the Fr. equivalent of "professional deformation of character". But the examples are legion. From the time I was in a hospital in C. Europe and complained that they wouldn't let me sleep for eight hours uninterrupted---and my doctor responded by saying she could prescribe a sleeping pill!--- To the time my father didn't have an appetite and the doctors all recommended a surgary drink full of preservatives. (Cf. a recent story on AlterNet--not that I endorse all of the reasoning contained therein.....http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/sick-patients-are-pumped-full-feed-tube-formula-corn-syrup-thats-produced-nestle

formerly a wage slave said...

As a matter of fact, there's a lot to be said about the idiocy of doctors. You may, using your knowledge of French, wish to replace that harsh word with the Fr. equivalent of "professional deformation of character". But the examples are legion. From the time I was in a hospital in C. Europe and complained that they wouldn't let me sleep for eight hours uninterrupted---and my doctor responded by saying she could prescribe a sleeping pill!--- To the time my father didn't have an appetite and the doctors all recommended a surgary drink full of preservatives. (Cf. a recent story on AlterNet--not that I endorse all of the reasoning contained therein.....http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/sick-patients-are-pumped-full-feed-tube-formula-corn-syrup-thats-produced-nestle