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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A buffer and enabler for the patient: VIP care

Dr. Victoria McEvoy on VIP care:
One Emergency Room doctor told me recently about a VIP patient who came to the ER complaining of chest pain. The patient's visit triggered a cascade of events at the hospital administration level. The "VIP Office" sent a delegate to smooth the way, and the patient came with his own personal physician, who was there to serve as a buffer and enabler for the patient. Not only was the "physician bodyguard" not in the right specialty for the complaint and age of the patient, but the physician gave orders: "Call the cardiologist and get an echocardiogram."

Both the resident and the responsible physician thought the patient's problem was gastro-intestinal: he had swallowed a huge antibiotic pill without water, and the esophagus was irritated enough to cause the chest pain. Instead of quickly looking at the patient's esophagus, hours were wasted getting cardiology and cardiac tests which were not needed. His VIP status delayed him getting proper care.

Advice to Very Important Persons: If you bring in your personal physician, make sure they will listen to other doctors' opinions.

Read a celebrity drug error story.

Thanks to Dr. Victoria McEvoy for the source article in yesterday's Boston Globe.

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