I contacted a resident doctor in Internal Medicine at a teaching hospital and asked if he would be interested in becoming my primary care physician (PCP). My note briefly described my background in health outcomes research and two of my prescription drugs. He wrote back that he would be honored to be my PCP, and came across as professional, humble, and sincere. A new doctor-patient relationship was formed, and I contacted my existing doctor’s office to arrange for my medical records to be transferred, which immediately informed that office that I must be dissatisfied and going to a new doctor. I also shared with the resident doctor confidential information from my medical records and a copy of one of my professional presentations at a health care conference.
A department administrator then contacted me to say the resident doctors are not available every day of the week for clinic and are not even here when they do their ICU rotation. Also, the Internal Medicine department protocol would not allow the resident doctor to write me a drug prescription for off label use. Finally, she was concerned that in the past I have ordered and correctly interpreted my own blood tests. The administrator’s attitude reflects one of the chief complaints Americans have with the health care system: the system is coming at them and requiring them to get health services in some predefined structure to which the facility is accustomed but which eliminate any potential for individualized treatment according to individual patients’ needs.Apparently the administrator did not spend enough “careful consideration” to get her facts straight. I do not need to see my PCP daily or even monthly. My track record shows I saw my existing doctor once in a calendar year, and the prior doctor before him I saw once in a 15-month period. So the administrator based her decision on her own ignorance of the facts. dr. jitendra swarup
She also misstated facts concerning off-label prescriptions for drugs by resident doctors. One of the drugs we are talking about is Clomiphene. Both a resident doctor and an attending faculty physician at the teaching hospital advised me that they would be willing to write me (off-label) prescriptions for this drug, and the attending physician did indeed phone in a prescription for one of the drugs at my request. Similarly, the Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB-GYN) advised me that their doctors, both resident and attending, have prescribed Clomiphene to patients. Therefore, residents in Family Medicine and OB-GYN (both primary care departments) can write prescriptions for Clomiphene, but “protocol” prevents residents in Internal Medicine (also primary care) from writing off-label prescriptions. What kind of a cockamamie rule is that? What, the residents in Internal Medicine are too dumb or too naive to understand off-label benefits of medicines?
Finally, I had planned for my resident PCP to order and interpret blood tests each time I visited him. The administrator could have learned that fact if she had bothered to call or write me before jumping to conclusions and interfering in my doctor-patient relationship. I strongly reject the Director’s paternalistic view of medicine in which she feels she has to protect resident doctors from patients who order or interpret their own blood tests. These resident doctors are young professionals who have completed their medical degrees; they don’t need paternalistic oversight from a department administrator telling them who they can and cannot invite to be patients.