DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a primary care physician. As such, I see medical problems both complex and simple. It is not uncommon to see a patient who is expecting a certain diagnosis (i.e., an ear infection), but after an appropriate examination and history-taking, they are diagnosed with something that they consider more minor.
Occasionally, they will complain to me, “Well, that was a waste of a co-pay!” I must admit that I’m not sure how to respond.
Miss Manners, I am not a physician who rushes through appointments with my patients. I’ve taken the time to examine them, speak to them and educate them on how they can feel better, as well as what symptoms would necessitate a follow-up. I would better understand their sentiment if I was in and out quickly, or if I had done something to make them feel as if they are wasting my time, but I don’t believe that either of these is the case.
While I know their statement is likely an expression of their disappointment in their own self-diagnostic abilities, it also serves to discount the worth of my own education, experience and time. Do you have an appropriate response for such comments?
GENTLE READER: “Were you hoping for something more serious? I can assure you that any more interesting prognoses will be far less convenient -- and much more expensive than the co-pay.”