Thursday, May 10, 2018

Vitamin D

Vitamin D seems to be the new big thing.  I've had multiple friends tell me they were feeling tired, then they were diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency and started feeling better after taking supplements.  We check Vit D levels all the time on patients.  I myself have been a believer in the Vit D hype, and even take supplements myself.

But now this review has come out, stating that "Routine vitamin D supplementation does not prolong life, decrease the incidence of cancer or cardiovascular disease, or decrease fracture rates... Randomized controlled trials of vitamin D supplementation in the treatment of depression, fatigue, osteoarthritis, and chronic pain show no benefit, even in persons with low levels at baseline."

Interesting.  I have to admit, it gives me pause.  Is all the Vit D hype over nothing?  Is this like when I used to take zinc when I thought I was getting sick?

Monday, April 30, 2018

Supposably

Maybe it's just my imagination, but lately, I feel like I've been noticing a lot of people saying "supposably."  And I'm talking about college-educated people who should supposably know better.

Supposably--not a word.

And neither is "irregardless."

But I'd probably sound like a jerk if I said that.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Being responsible

It feels like the people I know who don't work in medicine don't seem to understand the responsibilities people in medicine have toward their jobs.

I was ill with a fever a few weeks ago, and I was having a bit of post-viral malaise (still am).  I wasn't feeling fabulous, but I wasn't actively sick or anything.  Just dragging a bit since the fever, although improving.  I was supposed to work at the hospital over the weekend, and multiple people told me I should blow it off.  Adults.  Who have had or currently hold jobs.

One person further suggested I should take several months off.

It's exhausting to explain this to people.  Including my husband.  Do people in other fields really don't get that you can't just take off work without warning just because you're a little tired?

Monday, April 16, 2018

Our neighbors

I don’t know what to do about my neighbors.

I live in an apartment building, so I’ve never actually met them. I’m not even sure if it’s my upstairs neighbors or my side neighbors. But lately, they’ve been bothering me a little.

The guy who lives there shouts curses a lot. That part doesn’t bother me. Usually I notice it because I’ll be getting dressed in the bathroom and I’ll hear him screaming curses.  It’s a little unsettling, but also somewhat amusing.

However, on two occasions, his shouting woke me up. Last night, it woke me up at 1:30 in the morning. On another occasion, I think he might have been having a fight with his wife at six in the morning. I heard him screaming, “What the fuck do you want from me???” over and over at what sounded like the top of his lungs, and then a woman giving a muffled response.

I’m not sure what to do about this.  It’s not in a place where the kids can really hear it, so I’m not bothered if he yells curses during the day, but I’d rather not be woken up by shouting. But I’m not even sure where the guy lives, and he seems like a possibly unstable person I don’t want to antagonize. We’re only going to be living here for a few more months. What do you think I should do?

Sigh.  Just when the baby moved out...

Monday, April 2, 2018

Customer service

I feel like as a doctor, part of my job is customer service.  Because when I see inpatients, a lot of the time when I ask at the end of seeing them if there's anything else I can do for them, they have a complaint about their call button taking too long to be answered, the food being bad, their roommate being too loud, etc.

I try to handle the complaints best I can.  I never ignore them.  I say something like, "I'm so sorry that happened.  Let me see what I can do to fix it."  Then I tell them my plan, which involves anything from talking to the nursing supervisor about nursing issues or to the unit coordinator to get them a room change.  I can't personally fix the problem, but at least I try to show I'm taking it seriously and addressing it.

It's made me a lot less tolerant of bad customer service.

Recently, I got an email at 6PM from our leasing office, saying that tomorrow (a holiday when kids were off from school), they were doing repairs and our water would be shut off intermittently "after 8AM."  I was horrified.  We didn't even have a day's notice of this!  I was going to be home with the kids all day and how can you do anything at home when you don't know if you're going to have water to clean it up?

I called the office, and the woman I spoke to was almost rude.  She assured me they were in no way obligated to inform us in advance of such a thing.  When I asked for a better estimate of when the repairs were being done, she huffed, "I gave you an estimate already!  It's going to be after 8AM."  I was like, "But that's the WHOLE DAY."

Finally, after talking for several minutes, I pleaded with her to at least talk to the repairmen in the morning to see about getting a better estimate on the time, and she very grudgingly agreed.

How hard would it have been to apologize to me for this unexpected inconvenience?  How hard would it have been to offer to check with the repairmen instead of forcing me to beg her to do it?

I think Customer Service 101 is not acting like the complaint is the fault of the customer.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Do you smoke?

Me: "Do you smoke cigarettes?"

Patient: "No."

Me: "Did you ever smoke in the past?"

Patient: "Yeah, I quit a week ago when I was admitted to the hospital.  Before that, I smoked a pack a day."

I don't get that.  If a doctor asks you if you're a smoker and you only quit a few days ago, you are still a smoker.  Why do people do that?

Friday, March 2, 2018

Women in medicine

Yesterday, a female resident went in to see a patient.  A bit later, she returned with her male attending.

Patient (to the attending): "You're so lucky you get to bring your wife to work with you!"

Attending: [horrified] "She's not my wife!"

Patient: [winks] "Even better..."


Monday, February 19, 2018

Survey on your experience...

I recently bought some expensive tickets for a show through a ticketmaster-type website.  After the purchase, it said my e-tickets would be delivered to me in twenty minutes.

Three hours later, I still hadn't gotten the e-tickets.  So I sent an email to customer service.

The next morning, I still hadn't gotten tickets or a response, so I called customer service.  The rep I spoke to basically acted like I was being impatient.  She was like, "Well, you bought your tickets at 7PM on a Friday night... what did you expect?"

"I expected the tickets in twenty minutes if that's what your site said would happen."

"Yes, but it was after business hours."

"Right, but the email didn't say I would get them the next business day.  It said I'd get them in twenty minutes so it's obviously automated."

"Yes, but nobody is working on a Friday night."

"Your site says the tickets are supposed to arrive in twenty minutes. If that's not going to be the case, the site shouldn't say that."

We went back and forth like that a bit, and she was basically blaming me for being impatient.  But the show was in a few days and it was clear something had gone wrong.  Finally, she basically put in an email to.... someone. 

"And when should I expect a reply?" I asked. "Like, at what point do I need to call again?"

"I don't know," she said, sounding very exasperated.  "Look, you'll get your tickets before the show!"

I finally gave up on her.  A few hours later, I got an email from customer service, saying my ticket purchase somehow hadn't been uploaded to the system, and they fixed it, and my tickets arrived five minutes later.

In any case, after my call with that woman, I got an email asking to rate my interaction with her.  I essentially never fill these things out, but i was so steamed, I did fill it out, and mentioned how unhelpful she had been and that she blamed me for being impatient when there was actually a glitch in the system.

It just got me thinking about surveys in general.  Sadly, I'm the sort of person who only fills them out when I have only an especially great or awful experience.  That's the inherent flaw in things like Press-Ganey.  Unless everyone is required to fill them out, how can you really get an accurate assessment of care?

Monday, February 5, 2018

Weirdest winter ever

Usually by this point in the season, I've been sick at least four or five times.  Having a cold is sort of my thing.  And this winter has been really bad for everyone around me getting sick.

Yet weirdly, I haven't had one cold all season.  I have had some sinus issues, but no actual colds.

It's honestly almost a little frightening. This hasn't happened since I've had kids. I'm wondering if my body is revving up for some monsto-virus that will result in my death.

Or have I now just acquired every upper respiratory virus circulating in a 30-mile radius and have become immune?

The only other thing I can think of is that I started taking multivitamins this summer.  Could that be why I'm not getting sick??