Thursday, June 12, 2008

Doctor stumped without his chart

A series of surreal visits to the polyclinic have left us stewing. See what you think:

1st visit (three weeks ago)
Sonny's parents (SP): Doctor, the whites of our son's eyes have been a little yellow. His complexion too...
Polytechnic doctor (PD): You say he's a month old? Jaundice needs to be investigated [sends Sonny off for some blood tests. 30 minutes later, he's reviewing the results]. Hmm. You should have brought him in earlier.
SP: Is it bad?
PD: It's hard to say. If you had brought your son in earlier, I would have been better able to decide if he needed to be hospitalised. But my chart is only for a month.
SP: Chart?
PD: Yes, look here [points to a chart tacked to the wall]. This tells me whether the bilirubin levels are considered dangerously high, given his age. But the chart only give guidance for the first month - and your child is over a month old.
SP: Er... we apologise. But what now?
PD: I don't know [begins to twirl his pen]. I'm not sure. You really should have brought him in earlier. Now it's not on the chart [eventually decides we should redo the tests in a week].

2nd visit (two weeks ago). Same polyclinic, different doctor.
PD: The bilirubin levels are down. That's good. Come back and redo the tests in a week.

3rd visit (a week ago). Same polyclinic, same doctor as in second visit.
PD: Well, the levels are down again... but actually, these tests don't tell us much. Your son is too old for them. Anyway, come back for another round of [the same] tests next week.

4th visit (yesterday). Same polyclinic, different doctor.
PD: Tell me again why you bothered coming in again? The tests don't really tell us much given your child's age. And last week's readings were low enough anyway.

[Sonny is (and has always been) alert, gaining weight and eating well. In short, he seems fine. We're not quite sure about some of these medicos...]


Mumsgather said...

Thats terrible! Especially the first PD. I wouldn't go back to him/her.

Anonymous said...

All's well that ends well. But what are you cribbing about? The doctor did give you the correct info about bilirubin and referring to charts and figures is the done thing anywhere in the world.

Don't look for conspiracies and controversies where none exist except perhaps in your mind.

Cloudsters said...

Our sentiments exactly, Mumsgather, only it's kinda hard to choose one's doctors at a polyclinic. We may have to venture farther afield... Anonymous, isn't it just a little disconcerting to encounter a doc who's apparently only as good as his (easy-peasy, first-month-only) chart? And who transfers blame to his patients accordingly? But no conspiracies were detected, never fear :)

Invisible Blogger said...

Ugh! Doctors! Almost the most useless people on planet.

Just a share: I took my 5 month old in to ER bank in 2003. She had a 106 temperature and the left side of her face looked she was hiding a tangerine in it. The doctor looked in her eyes and ears and then proceeded to say "could be salivary glands, could be clogged ducts, could be tonsillitus, could be..." and I said "could be a reindeer lodged in her throat.. but what IS it?"

"I don't know" was the response. And he sent me on my way. So for the next 7 days I fought her 106 temps with chamomile and lavender baths and on the 8th day, she woke and the swelling was gone.

Still don't know what it was!

Shirley said...

Hahaha! I'm so utterly amused by your account of the doc visits. These fellows really leave a lot of ??huh?? and ??duh?? This young doc at my polyclinic detected a little prob wif my wee one and promptly decided that we needed a pedeatric surgeon! Wow we thought! So serious ah? Lucky my uncle was a pd and we went to him for advice. He laughed and said that the doc must be really young and inexperienced!

Cloudsters said...

Three cheers for the organic route to health, eh, Invisible! So let's guess, Enchanted: You scrubbed the appointment with the surgeon, and your child's none the worse for it... though presumably there'll be times when it's better safe than sorry.

fraemone said...

oh dear. but that's really the way it is with docs sometimes. ryan had to get warded 3 times for the same thing before kk docs figured it was asthma (it was variously bronchiolitis, bronchitis and pneumonia at first) but let's just say that on the last try, they seem to have got it right, so that's a relief. why don't you guys go to a private pd? at least you get the same doc every time. or even one of the docs at kkh.

Cloudsters said...

Ahead of you there, Fraemone: We've since surveyed the private pds in the neighbourhood. Unless it's something routine, we might just go to one of them next time.