One thing you may not know is that any time one doctor refers you to another doctor, the two doctors then write letters back and forth to each other about you, especially if the second doctor continues to treat you over an extended period of time. Doctor X, the one giving the referral, writes a letter to Doctor Y that is designed to arrive before Doctor Y ever sets his eyes on you. This letter contains a summary of your problem, treatment, and reason for referral, and concludes with "I appreciate your willingness to see this very pleasant woman." Doctor Y then sees you, sends you packing, and writes back to Doctor X: "Dear Doctor X, Thank you for the referral. Blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah, blah blah. Thank you for allowing me to assist in the care of this very pleasant woman."

"Pleasant" is the most common word they use in this sentence, for some reason. I never use the word "pleasant," except in January when I can't fit into my favorite jeans and have to refer to myself as "pleasantly plump." I certainly do not know any PERSON that I would describe as "pleasant." It's just a weird word. But doctors seem to have this unspoken scale of pleasantness, ranging from "pleasant" to "very pleasant." Some patients don't get any word at all, just "Thank you for allowing me to assist in the care of this patient." Some patients, who are obviously extremely pleasant, get even better words. I was inspired to write this post because I just came across a record in which one of our clients was described as "delightful." Delightful! Yet I have never seen a letter from Doctor X saying "Thanks for helping out, but I gotta warn you, she's a real pill."

My interest is piqued by this. I'm not sure what the code of conduct is here, or why the rule even exists -- the patients themselves never see the letters between doctors, or at least I've never seen any correspondence between my doctors, so offending the patients can't be the reason. I guess the fact that lawyers and insurance adjusters and all kinds of icky people (ultimately including a jury in some cases) get their hands on these records from time to time might be a consideration. HOWEVER, the files at our office are filled with memos referencing "assholes" and "crotchety old men who I'd NEVER pick for a jury" and (in one particularly lovely case) "a real peach." Quite frankly, most of our clients are one step away from the room with the padded walls, and I know the doctors think so too. How could they not? From time to time I do pick up hints of those feelings from the medical records, but always in very professionally-worded sentences that never contain the word asshole.

Are doctors just that much more professional than lawyers? Is it just my office? My boss does occasionally wear sweatpants to work, even to client meetings. Of course, our notes and intra-office memos are protected by this thing called the "work product privelege," which means that the defense will never see our potty words, nor will the jury. Maybe doctors have a work-product privelege as well, and therefore a separate file of memos that don't get copied and sent out..... doctors? Do I have any doctor readers that can answer this? Do I have any readers left at this point in the post, or is this the sort of thing that's only interesting when you've been sitting at your desk for a very very long time? I don't know, but I'm glad it's Friday.

Have a very pleasant day.


Blogger Gilby said...

I wonder what my doctors say about me!

The formal language of HR documents cracks me up, too. A cover letter I received recently (obviously from a French-speaking applicant) stated that "The resume will speak up for itself." But I haven't heard a peep out of it!

However, I am remindered of why carefully worded, formal language is necessary: it is a means of not embarassing one's self. I received a letter today from someone who had been informed that they had not been selected for an interview. It stated, "I have no idea how [company name] would not want a [position title] with my experience, qualifications and clean record...I can't believe a company would not want the most qualified employee they could get when they have the opportunity." Well, well--aren't we important?!

12/09/2005 4:45 PM  
Blogger annie said...

Don't worry, you're probably pleasant too. Maybe even very pleasant. Unless you ask, as you walk out the door, where the nearest White Castle is. In that case, the doctor will probably be laughing so hard that his secretary can't understand his transcription tape.

Yes, we had a pair of clients yesterday who did ask about White Castle. Nobody knew what to tell them. East St. Paul? Wisconsin? This is Woodbury, folks, the cheapest shit you can find to eat around here is Chipotle, and even that has some kind of fancypants brushed-steel "art" on its walls. But if y'all change yer mind about th' vittles, there's a DENTIST next door you might want to consider seeing.

Okay, that was mean. But I'm not taking it back.

I wonder what causes someone to assume they were the most qualified of all the applicants. Let's see, you didn't even get called for an interview... perhaps you were not, in fact, the most qualified. Perhaps not even close. Perhaps you should apply at White Castle.........

12/09/2005 4:58 PM  
Blogger Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

I work in the exact polar opposite of the grammatical spectrum; in the bike industry, words is four loosers! I swear, I cringe countless times every day.

12/09/2005 5:19 PM  
Blogger Olaf Vanderhoot said...

yes, thank allah for the work product privilege. I'm sure you've been upright and rigorous in your Disco-very productions.

reminds me of a time calling on an opposing counsel for a discovery deadline ~ his recept patched me through after i had introduced myself and I guess he had his co-counsel on the brain 'cause he interpreted the forward as me being the in-state meat.

Nothing finer than when one of them buggers has that silent moment, or two (cause I allow it) of realization that I'm opposing, no co- ~ and he just wanked on for 2 minutes about what was going to be withheld from production.

sweet moments.

anyway, clickity-clicked through to your site and will have to return. gawdamn wordy law-times.

12/09/2005 7:47 PM  
Blogger annie said...

Olaf, I've never had THAT happen, but insurance adjusters try it ALL THE TIME. They give their name and the company, and try to get information from me without telling me if they're the PIP carrier or the liability carrier (good guys [kinda] and bad guys, for those who don't know. PIP is usually giving our client money, while the liab is trying very hard to hang onto all the money they can, sometimes resorting to stuffing it down their pants mid-trial and running for the door). Telling me they're calling from State Farm doesn't help, because I talk to about 80 people from State Farm every goddamn day and they know it. Sneaky little fuckers.

12/13/2005 1:44 PM  

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