March 20, 2004

The Foot Doctor

Shelby already wrote about Thursday's visit to the orthopedist, so I won't recap the whole thing here.

I will say, though, that I'm impressed with the speed and decisiveness of the German doctors that we've met so far. Dr. Kaden looked at Shelby's foot briefly, told us three things that her problem might be, and then in rapid succession had her foot X-rayed, eliminated one of the possible causes (a heel spur), and then wrote a prescripton for Vioxx and her fitted for custom orthotics. The whole thing took an hour; if it hadn't been a busy day at the clinic, I think it would have taken less.

Similarly, we went through the emergency room at the same rapid clip; they did some tests, determined what it wasn't, put Shelby on an IV for fluids and medicine until she felt better, gave us a prescription (along with some drugs to bridge the gap until we got it filled), and we were out the door in a few hours. When the ER doc was explaining the prescription to Shelby, he said that sometimes people had antibiotics for her condition, but he wasn't prescribing them now, because they weren't necessary for her. (Contrast this to the clinic doctors in Morgan Hill, who'd almost always prescribe antibiotics for everything, even though we didn't ask for them -- usually writing and handing over the prescription while standing in front of a WE CARE ENOUGH ABOUT YOU THAT WE WILL ONLY PRESCRIBE ANTIBIOTICS WHEN THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY REALLY REALLY TOTALLY NECESSARY AND NOT AT ANY OTHER TIME poster.)

Maybe this whole snap-judgement, rapid-action behavior comes from not having to worry about multi-million-dollar malpractice suits or being second-guessed by HMO bureaucrats. I suspect that part of it comes from differing national attitudes towards people in authority (and deference to people with titles -- in Germany, if you can claim Doktor as part of your name, even if it's an academic title, there's no way you're not going to use it on a daily basis). Frankly, if I'm coming down with brain cancer or a Tropical Fever So Mysterious It Doesn't Have a Western Name, then I want to be involved in an ongoing dialogue with my medical professionals and have a strong voice in my medical care -- but for routine stuff, I'm fine with being dictated to by an all-knowing doctor, particularly if it gets us out the door faster. We've already spent too much time in hospitals and doctor's offices!

Posted by Kevin at March 20, 2004 08:33 AM