A Phone Call
My next inbox message read, “The patient wants the doctor to go on the internet and find him a cure. Patient declines scheduling appointment at this time.”
That was the note from the nurse coordinator, who had dutifully called Stan after his recent hospital stay for abdominal pain and a laparoscopic biopsy of an abdominal wall mass. The news wasn’t good—he had recurrent colon cancer, and it was metastatic. Stan understood the implications: palliative options, no cure, a terminal diagnosis. His typically dry sense of humor had turned a bit dark in his phone message.
I scanned the nurse’s notes once more, then clicked complete. It was an FYI, after all. Our office routinely called patients after a hospitalization, documented any needs, encouraged a one-week follow-up. Stan had declined the visit; he wasn’t in pain, he had no medication or testing needs, and he had no questions for me, his PCP, that wouldn’t be answered by an oncology visit in a few weeks. Stan didn’t need me right now,...