Sunday, March 17, 2013

Frivolous Complaints

I cut and pasted the below from the Medical Post which sends me daily an unsolicited email with a link to its stories.  Unfortunately it is subscription only so I can't give out the link.
VANCOUVER | A patient who was offended because an eye surgeon sang during a medical procedure won’t be seeing the physician get an official sanction.
British Columbia’s Health Professions Review Board, who agreed with a previous ruling from the provincial college, dismissed the complaint in January.
The doctor had been called “arrogant” for singing, but the board disagreed with the patient.
“The complainant says that the registrant’s conduct of singing and talking about taking left-over hospital towels to wash his car while putting a ‘lense’ into his right eye is unacceptable, arrogant, disrespectful and shameful,” wrote review board chair David A. Hobbs in the decision.
Initially, the patient complained to the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons following the procedure, which occurred at a hospital on May 20, 2011.
The male complainant said the doctor was chatting about using hospital towels to wash his car and that he sang as he worked on the patient.
College spokesperson Susan Prins said officials took a look at the complaint, but found the patient’s care had not been compromised.
“The college does not have specific rules about singing in the OR, but physicians should be certainly be mindful of their actions and words during any procedure,” Prins told the CBC.
But when the college dismissed the claim against the doctor, the patient pressed on and took his complaint to the Review Board.
But the board said the complaint was “trivial.”
Neither the doctor nor the patient have been identified, due to privacy concerns.

For about the last 10 years or so, regulatory bodies like the Colleges (Medical Boards) and hospital patient concerns offices have had to deal with each complaint no matter how trivial.  This means now that since as department head every time we get one of these complaints, I have to meet with the individual and then write a response to their complaint. For this the hospital pays me handsomely.  The most recent complaint that I dealt with, was a patient with Mulitple Chemical Sensitivities who complained, even though the anaesthesiologist gave her the anaesthetic exactly the way she wanted (total intravenous anaesthesia avoiding all the drugs she claimed to be sensitive to), apparently because the anaesthesiologist tried to explain to her than Sevoflurane actually doesn't have any preservatives.  I wrote a letter to the Chief of Staff stating that only the most saintly and patient physician would have gotten any other outcome.

Not only did this individual get to complain to the provincial College (Medical Board) but when they rejected his concern, presumably after considering it carefully, the province had nicely set up at considerable expense, another board to hear his complaint.  I wonder how many nurses could be hired for the cost of maintaining this little board.

In the course of my work I frequently come across patients who have really been treated shabbily by our system and unfortunately quite frequently by some of my colleagues and occasionally I suggest that they should really complain about the way they were treated.  Most of them even ones who have actually suffered injuries at the hands of the healthcare system are reluctant to do this.  This leaves the trivial complaints.

Fortunately most surgeons don't sing in the OR anymore.  I remember more sang when I was younger.  I am sure some surgeons have beautiful voices and good  tastes in music; these individuals largely didn't sing much, it was the ones that thought they were good singers who sang. (A gynaecologist who played the organ in his church whistled during his cases; you could tell what he was going to be playing that Sunday.)  Largely instead of singing now surgeons spend most of the case talking about their perfect family, their perfect vacation, their car or their right wing politics.

Having listen to this as a patient while awake could be disturbing, sort of like going to the dentist except the surgeon isn't asking you a bunch of questions while there is a bunch of stuff in your mouth and you can't really reply although you feel obliged to do so.

And really who gives a shit if the surgeon is taking the disposable towels home to wash his car; at least they are making one more stop before going to the landfill.