Just One More Question...

Who is affected more by incessant record keeping, patients or physicians?

The following was originally posted to Shrink Rap.

Thanks to Peter for bringing this article to my attention.

Have I ever mentioned that I hate forms? Oh, it's not just Medicare forms, it's all medical forms.

In private practice, there's not much paperwork. I see patients and I jot down a note for their charts. Sometimes I type a formal evaluation for their primary care doctor. Sometimes I need to fill out treatment plans or preauthorization forms for medications or forms for disability insurances. And these things are a pain in the neck, but most days there are no forms. I see patients, I turn off the phone, and I'm with them fully.

In the clinics where I've worked, the notes go on forms. There are simple questions to be filled out, nothing that exciting, but it pulls my attention. There's a line for the date. Oh, I do that anyway. Diagnosis. Usually I know that. Time I started. Oh, who cares? Usually I'm talking with the patient and realize I forgot that. I turn to look at the clock and record the time. First zap away from the patient. Age: ? I look at their birthdate. I subtract from the current date to get the year. Why do I have to calculate the age of every patient I see everytime I see them? There are computer labels on every page with the date of birth. If someone wants to know, why can't they do the math? Medical Diagnoses and Medications: I look that up. Date of last physical: ? I look that up or ask the patient. If it's been a while, I tell them to have a check up: Maybe that's useful, but every patient, every visit? I check the box that says they aren't suicidal and that I've discussed the risks and benefits of the medications and how often they come for therapy and what the goals are and if they are getting labs done.

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