Health & Wellness

Top Docs 2014: How to Annoy Your Doc!

What do patients do that really gets under the skin of their physicians? We asked around and, turns out, we pushed a hot button.

The No Show

“As a plastic surgeon, my initial consultations with patients take time,” says Top Docs winner Dr. Nassif Soueid. “At my practice, we offer free one-hour consultations, and it’s very frustrating when these patients don’t show up for their appointment. The hour blocked for the missed consult could have benefited other patients if the appointment had been canceled or rescheduled in a timely manner.”

Falling for TV Ads

“Patients often fall for these,” says Dr. Michael P. Zimring, who specializes in internal medicine and travel medicine at Mercy Medical Center. “But that drug may not be for them for other medical reasons they don’t understand.” Patients are often “going down the wrong diagnostic or therapeutic path due to marketing efforts directed toward the sale of a specific product or service,” agrees Mercy Medical Center orthopedic surgeon Dr. Charles Edwards (our cover doc).

 

Obesity

“One of the main issues we struggle with . . . is obesity and diet,” says Dr. Eskander “Alex” Yazaji, vice chairman of medicine at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital and MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital. “Many patients with obesity-related complications such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and sleep apnea do not understand that those conditions are completely reversible and even curable in many cases when obesity is addressed.”

Under (and over) Medicating

Two things that bug Dr. Jay Gopal, chief of pediatrics at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, involve the use and abuse of pharmaceuticals. On the one hand, he says, patients are refusing vaccines for their children, putting them at risk for a variety of serious illness. “On the other hand,” he says, “there’s tremendous abuse of antibiotics, especially by urgent-care clinics and ERs.”

Smoking

“It really bothers me when I repeatedly tell patients to quit smoking, especially in advance of surgery, because it affects healing, and they don’t listen,” says Dr. George Apostolides, GBMC’s director of colorectal surgery. “Because it constricts the blood flow, it has a 30 percent negative effect on healing—it’s really bad.”

Not Managing Their Meds

“We sit down with our patients and carefully go over their medications, and they’ll tell us they have enough to last until the next appointment, but then a few days later, their pharmacy calls saying they need more,” says Mercy’s Dr. Zimring. “It’s just a hassle.” Worse yet, though, are the patients who don’t follow instructions. “Even after we carefully explain what the meds are for and the dosage, some don’t take the meds, and they don’t tell us, so when we see them again, their blood pressure, for instance, is really high.”

Googling the Cure

So you plug your symptoms into Google, and it tells you you’ve got bubonic plague. The chances your self-diagnosis is right without 10 years of medical training under your belt? Not very good, says GBMC’s Apostolides. “I see so many people who either just make the wrong diagnosis using the Internet, or worse yet, it’ll be so wrong they’ll just make themselves paranoid with every imagined affliction that their search comes up with. I would say the Internet is probably more useful for them to educate themselves on a condition after they’ve been correctly diagnosed by a doctor.”

It’s A Family Affair

Dr. Hina Ghafoor, a physician specializing in internal medicine at Medstar Union Memorial Adult Medicine Specialists in Lake Falls Village Center, asks the question, “Can we have a little privacy, please?” “Women will come in for a Pap smear or GYN exam, and their boyfriends will insist on sitting right there in the exam room,” she says. “Or they’ll plug in their phone chargers in the exam room and be chatting away on the phone while I’m trying to talk to them.” Then there’s the baby-makes-three annoyance: “Women with appointments for themselves will bring their babies into the room and feed them or change their diapers while I’m trying to do the exam.”