Saturday, August 11, 2007

Paper Trail


An unused bedroom is full of old papers -- among much else. Today, my wife was doing some excavation therein, and found some weathering evaluation forms, from a few years back. My clinic began a process some time ago, which (I think) it continues, whereby for every physician every year (now numbering well over 200), a random 100 patients are sent questionnaires, asking about various aspects of their ecounters with that doctor. All docs got summaries; overall, I'd say it was an extremely useful thing. The batch my wife found brought back long-forgotten memories.

Most were unsigned. One was neatly typed, the others hand-written in style varying from scrawl to neat and grandmotherly. Some brief, some overflowing the alloted spaces. The ages were indicated, and they ranged from 5 (in a mother's hand) to 85. Without exception, what they said was really nice, every last one of them. "You made me feel so comfortable." "You really seemed to care." "You explained everything clearly and thorougly." "I've never had a doctor who came to see me twice a day. I really appreciated it." "I was scared, and you took the time to make me feel comfortable." "Well, you didn't tell me how great I'd feel." "I wish you were my regular doctor."

And here's the thing: while I was reading them, I felt warm and good. Now, I feel really bad. I tossed them in the garbage. (No, not the garbage of course: the recycling bag.) I think it's a Woody Allen sort of thing.

5 comments:

SeaSpray said...

Aww, how nice Dr S. With everything you've posted those nice comments aren't surprising. It'd great to have positive feedback. Even negative can be constructive if heeded.

You no doubt are a stronger soul than I because I cannot part with anything written. And when I do it is painful. I am a sentimental saver for sure!

I wish I knew how people can do that because we only need just so much and probably don't need that.

My uncle said once,"You spend half your life trying to accumulate things and then you spend the 2nd half of your life trying to get rid of it."

I hope you don't mind but I linked one of your posts to my most recent post and used some of my comments in that post. :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Dr. S, this brings up a great question! I recently had gallbladder surgery and had some resulting complications a few days later (pulmonary embolism).

I think my surgeon did a fantastic job with the surgery and with my treatment/recovery in the aftermath of the embolism.

However, he doesn't present much of a sentimental side, simply that "just the facts" attitude. Would a thank you card be in order? Or does he think he's just doing his job? Just curious for your opinion...do you get thank you cards?

Sid Schwab said...

Speaking for myself, I loved getting thank you notes, and I'd guess any doctor does. I should look around. I have all of those somewhere, too. I'd say: do it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, that was my opinion, but thought I would check. I love your blog, it was a great resource as I was preparing for my surgery.

happyj said...

I loved this post! I like the example in the Bible, about God forgiving those who have the most to be forgiven for because they are the most grateful. I think its the same with injury and life - I have more to be grateful for because I was resuscitated and ended up not being paralyzed, so my gratitude for my trauma surgeon is unending in the form of an eventual college diploma and continued updates and thank yous (Shakespeare said that one thank you isn't always enough).