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Memories of the 28th Century

Medical Communications

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For the last few years, I have had more contact with the medical professionals than in earlier years, and I have learned some interesting things about those people. For one thing, they are are a varied bunch. They all went through medical school and so on, but they are humans and show the kind of variation that all humans do. Many of the medical practitioners that I have met, I like, and some of them I would call friends. Unfortunately, trying to communicate with them in regard to medical matters can be trying, and the covid scare made things even worse.

My condition and situation may be instructive. I have an aortic aneurysm that has taken to expanding more. An attempt was made a year ago to correct the problem, but it didn't work, and we have been trying to do something for a few months, but I had another medical situation arise recently, and that has to be handled first, but it hasn't been, yet, because the people involved in that don't like to communicate, and they may think that I am as intelligent as a polliwog. But to make it worse, all medical practices put long recorded messages on their phone systems. It has become so bad that I gave up trying to call my primary care physician, and eventually walked into another office of the same group and got them to send him a message, and rather amazingly, he called me.

If medical practitioners were serious about communicating with patients, then they would have a receptionist answer the phones and direct the calls to the actual line where they should go. That would give the false impression that they are interested in patients and wanted to help them.

Then there was my attempt to get good information about tests, heart scans, that were done in early February. At the time, the one who did the tests said that I had had a heart attack, but he gave no details and said that my PCP should give me the details, but he blew off a telephone consultation a few weeks earlier. It took weeks, and a message through the other location of that group, but he did call me back, and did get the results of the heart scan, and this morning I finally got that message: The scan showed something negative, but I would have to consult with a cardiologist.

I had been trying to find a cardiologist for a couple of months for just that purpose, so I called my vascular surgeon's scheduler, who had tried to find one, but she had stopped, when I rescheduled the angioplasty. So I am going to have angioplasty without knowing whether it is necessary. It's almost enough to get me to apply to medical school. I never took organic chemistry, so they probably wouldn't accept me, but if they did accept, then I would be able to get physicians to speak to me.

It really does give me the impression that they don't consider people who lack medical degrees the underclass. The medical profession is simply another narrow specialization. They usually don't understand much outside of their specialization, and they probably believe that no one is capable of mastering anything except a narrow specialization. What good does it do to have an IQ above the 98th percentile, if no one believes that there are people who are smarter than they are?

One of the hallmarks of intelligence is the ability to explain complicated matters in simple terms, while people who are not especially intelligent can usually just parrot back in the formal terms. Unfortunately, some people are buffaloed by that. I remember a man who was training me in commercial and industrial appraisal recounted someone giving a speech in such lofty terms that my reteller couldn't understand it. I was acquainted with the speaker, so I immediately understood that he was using double-talk to try to hide his ignorance. I mentioned it to the one I was conversing with, but he didn't believe it.

Unfortunately, I am sometimes guilty of that use of gibberish. For example, someone who started reading Causation complained that she couldn't understand it, but Umberto Eco had the same problem, at least with Foucault's Pendulum, but that was part of what he was doing, because he wrote that novel in tandem with his Interpretation and Overinterpretation. I will confess that I was trying to do some of the same things as Eco when I wrote Causation. It is very difficult, and more likely impossible, to write or say something that will be interpreted the same by the whole audience, so we have to use the terms, etc. with which the target audience is comfortable, but it is surprising when anyone understands everything. Remember to read The Role of the Reader by Eco, when you are looking into this post.

But physicians should not be in the business of being obscure, and they should understand what they are doing well enough to explain it to someone else. Or it might be that some collections of physicians are less communicative than others. I liked and found intelligent the physicians that I dealt with at Baystate Medical Center, but the ones at Cooley-Dickinson, which is partners Medical Group along with Mass. General, have neglected to tell me much at all. While I was an inpatient, no one even suggested that I had had a heart attack. Perhaps more intelligent people work at Baystate. I don't know, but I will avoid Cooley in the future, and they gave me another reason for that, but that was non-medical.


  1. PeterL's Avatar
    It was interesting that when I was ready for a heart operation last week, the surgeon came in after reading the information about me and told me that he wasn;t doing the procedure; it wasn't necessary, and I had the same procedure a few months ago. I had the same opinion about the need for it from day one, but I still haven't gotten to the bottom of the claim that I had the same procedure a few months ago.
    Updated 03-28-2022 at 06:45 AM by PeterL
  2. tailor STATELY's Avatar
    Too scary. Most doctors need better people skills to put the care back in health care. I'm luckier than most that I see 2-doctors in a social setting quite often, albeit the conversation is usually about my wife and her difficulties. Be well.
  3. PeterL's Avatar
    I think itt is scarier from a financial point of view. The people who are screwing up usually are clerical staff. I have found the medical people quite skilled. I was cursing one physician for making a false claim, but I don't know that he did.