You may be wondering what a fiction book is doing in the book review section of a blog dedicated to medical practice management.  You have good reason to wonder but bear with me.  There is a method to my madness.

During my vacation (that was not long enough!) I read My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult.  As you may know, it has been made in to a movie, which I have not seen.  The book is a somewhat manipulative tear jerker, and is a “tense, high concept piece of women’s fiction…” So what does that have to do with anything?  Well, a lot.  Particularly interesting is the way physicians are portrayed in this book about a young woman dying of leukemia, and her parent’s attempts to save her.  Below is an excerpt from the mother’s viewpoint:

“The nurses, I have already learned, are the ones who give us the answers we’re desperate for.  Unlike the doctors, who fidget like they need to be somewhere else, the nurses patiently answer as if we are the first set of parents to ever have this kind of meeting with them, instead of the thounsandth.”

Ouch. The sad part of it is we physicians DO fidget because we DO have somewhere else to be.  Last week, I actually made the time to attend a meeting with the palliative care team, who was meeting with a patient and family to discuss various options as the patient neared end of life.  Guess how many times I was paged out of the meeting?

Three times in twenty minutes.

Boy didn’t I fit the stereotype?!

I was asked what I meant when I stated in an earlier blog that we should “slow health care down.”   This is what I mean.  I should have had the time to complete a meeting in which we disucssed options for end of life care.  But, instead I answered three pages of marginal significance.

No wonder Picoult describes physicians as always in a hurry.  It’s because we are, but that doesn’t make it right.

Book Club: My Sister’s Keeper

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