What’s your name??
I was quietly beginning my morning ritual of swimming laps at the local pool, and a man I recognized but didn’t remember where or how began that conversation. I don’t remember the specifics. Don’t ever do that to your doctor. We know some of you very well and will never forget you, and then some of you are, honestly, quite forgettable. You aren’t bad people or folks that we didn’t do our very best to care for you but you probably had something that was, for us, quite mundane and ordinary, yet, for you, a big deal in your life. It disrupted your usual situation, may have made you take off work or school, it hurt a lot, made you cry and in general was relatively catastrophic. For us, just another broken arm or leg or elbow or whatever. The sheer volume is what makes it hard to remember.
And we feel bad when we don’t. We like to think that we care for everyone with the utmost interest and enthusiasm, and it makes us feel like we have let you down when we don’t remember your name and everything about you. We can’t. There is just too much.
Think about it. The week starts on Monday (well it really doesn’t ever “start” or “end” because we work weekends and nights but just let’s use this as a starting point). I don’t like to do elective surgery on Monday. The labs aren’t back, or the last instructions and visit for the patient was on Friday and they have forgotten or misplaced anything they were told. The paperwork isn’t always where it should be and the OR folks can be a bit sluggish from their weekend. So Monday is a office day. We usually see the folks that were seen over the weekend as “work-ins” and so even with the new scheduled patients, it’s a busy day. The morning is manageable with around 18 -20 folks but the afternoon can run up to as many as 20-25. So lets say 40 patients on Monday.
Tuesday is an OR day in the morning and rechecks in the office in the afternoon. 3 people in surgery in am and 25 in the afternoon. So ballpark 28 folks.
Wednesday is a mirror image of Monday but with less “work ins” and so lets use 35 as a good number in the office.
Thursday is just like Tuesday so we can ball park another 28 patients.
Friday is unique. I wanted to incentivize getting all the claims in and all the work done for the week so the office folks could leave after lunch if everything had been taken care of, and the morning was usually office with surgery in the afternoon, again, taking care of “left over” injuries from the week. So, 18-20 patients including the surgery patients.
Monday 40 Tuesday 28 Wednesday 35 Thursday 28 Friday 20. Grand total= 151. Per Week.
151 per week times 48 weeks per year (holidays vacation etc) = 7,248 patients /year
Over a twenty-year period of practice, 144,960 patients. That is the population of Savannah, Georgia in 2015/16!!! And don’t forget, each one of these folks knows or is related to a number of people who will remember you took care of their loved one/neighbor/coworker. And they all may remember you. But there is NO WAY you could remember all of them.
My grandfather was a proctologist (look it up) and a colorectal surgeon in Atlanta. His standard jokes were that he was going to be a dentist but couldn’t stand the smell of people’s breath. The other one was that he never remembered anyone’s FACE.
So, we do remember a lot of you. And if you are remembered, you must be special in some way. Not necessarily a “good way” but usually. And if you are not right on the tip of our tongue, don’t feel left out! Savannah Georgia is a big town!!!!