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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Realistic Expectations

I had a patient come into my office in the clinic today demanding to be seen for an emergent issue. I thought that this member was having chest pain or shortness of breath and we may need to get an ambulance. She was yelling for someone to come help her, so naturally I thought it was a serious issue. She was constipated. She had been for two days. She called in and left a message for our RN advice line three hours before and felt it was unreasonable to have waited so long, so she came in. Unfortunately, my staff were dealing with patients in need of medical advice for lacerations, radiating chest pain, and sever abdominal cramping (to name a few) and were unable to call this patient back.

A realistic expectation when obtaining healthcare is crucial to ensure that you get what you need, and you are also not over-reacting to different medical conditions. When you have a major medical issue, you want your healthcare team to be able to respond. We cannot do that if you call for two day old constipation or a stubbed toe, so please be reasonable in utilizing our medical resources.

Please note that I am not trying to give medical advice here and that there are many co-morbidities that may make constipation a more serious issue. Those should be discussed with your doctor. My point is that most people know if they have a co-morbidity that would make constipation more serious than a person who has not had enough fiber.

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