I ran across this article in the March issue of Medical Economics that was written by Stephen Green, MD, an IM physician who works with VISTA. I have really enjoyed working on several licenses with Dr. Green. His article “Doc, you're fired! We want someone else,” hit home with me in two ways.
In March my father was admitted to the hospital with a severe infection from a spider bite. My dad walked into the hospital on Saturday but by Monday he could no longer walk, talk, or even feed himself. The hospitalist who was assigned to my father did not communicate well with my mother; she was obviously scared, confused, and wanted to know why her husband was so sick. She asked repeatedly to speak with the doctor but he was never available and never called her.
Mom was finally able to talk to the hospitalist on Tuesday evening. He was very abrupt and clinical. He recommended that Dad be released from the hospital on Wednesday but said he would leave it up to the new doctor, as they rotate every seven days and a new doctor was scheduled to start the next day. Mom was even more scared at that point as Dad was barely conscious. She felt there was no way she could take care of him at home.
On Wednesday Dad got his new hospitalist—a locum tenens physician placed by one of our competitors! The doctor met with Mom and explained exactly what was going on with Dad and told her they would decide together what would be the best course of treatment. In Dr. Green’s article he states, “Most patients are now cared for by hospitalists rather than their familiar primary care physicians. In this new therapeutic relationship, a bond of trust needs to be forged rather quickly.” Unlike the first doctor, the locum tenens hospitalist was willing and able to establish that bond right off. He was able to put Mom at ease and kept her apprised of Dad’s condition and medications; together they worked on a treatment plan. Dad is now home and is almost back to normal.
I wish that I had found Dr. Green’s article sooner and “fired” the abrupt, uncommunicative doctor. That said—here’s to the personable, caring physicians who make great locum tenens doctors and to the organizations that place them. Thank you.