Amanda's Fight Blog · Dirty Details of Cancer

7 minutes per patient??!!?

Most people complain about forgetting to ask the doctor about something when they were there. And for no reason other than the simple fact that the doctor is in and out of the exam room before they could blink. You can write questions down all day long, but you will forget that list at home, or we somehow get off topic. Next thing you know, you’ve been handed a clerical sheet of paper and told to come back in 3 months.

My husband wrote his college thesis on the amount of time spent per patient. It was a personal frustration because it floored him to see me going through a life threatening illness, and wait 2 hours to see the doctor for 5 minutes. Anyone that has come to my oncology appointments, has seen this and I am not the only one. I have to get a sitter, drive downtown by 9 am in rush hour, sit there until 1pm after we watched the entire staff go to lunch! Then get in the exam room and only see the actual doctor for around 3 -5 minutes ( yes he timed it ). So, while writing his paper, he interviewed my doctors and asked them about this.

“How do patients actually get the help they need when you spend less time than the nurses do with the patient?”

We found out from my oncologist, that doctors are scheduled so close together because they are only given 7 minutes per patient. Yes 7 minutes. We asked the question twice in disbelief. My oncologist is not happy with that number in any way. She says she would stay in the clinic until midnight to give people the amount of time they need. Your doctor needs to understand you as a person, and with stage 4 cancer, it’s necessary to be more hands on. My oncologist in Houston calls my cell phone and checks on me if I’ve had to be seen at home for anything in between our appointments. You should be happy with your doctor, and have the courage to be your own advocate. Otherwise, it’s impossible to fight this.

All this time we’ve been complaining that the doctors are too busy… it’s above them entirely. It’s all about how many patients they can pack in to their brand new cancer center so they can pay the bills, and that’s the bottom line.

So next time you go to the doctor, ( and you actually remember to bring that list of questions ) make them stay in that room until everything is answered. If they are uncomfortable with that, then that makes you uncomfortable with them, and your care will not be what you deserve. You need to like your doctor, they are unfortunately people we have to hang out with from time to time. So you may as well make sure you get along with them. They have your life in their hands, so you need to able to ask questions without feeling nervous. And you need to be able to trust that they are caring for you as best they can.

Anyway, I thought the world would be interested in this time frame given to the doctors. It’s not entirely their fault. Although, they could go ahead and spend as much time needed with each patient. My oncologist does spend as much time with me as she can. Sometimes she just hangs out to ask how the boys are. She knows we’ve traveled a long way and she is genuinely concerned about me.

Thanks for reading!

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