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Why Don’t Doctors Make House Calls?

Posted by: Jawellnofine

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Of late, I’ve been laid low due to a rather malign viral infection. Yet, its not the discomfort, pain or immobility experience that leads me to write this commentary but the whole Doctor experience that got my nod of ire.

Why don’t Doctors do house-calls anymore? This I found to be the general attitude of all Doctors that were contacted for help. The phrase most used was “come and see me.” Don’t they realise that if I could, I would have?

Of course, what was told to me was that I make use of an ambulance service to get me to the Doctors rooms. This in itself is not all bad as qualified Ambulance personnel would’ve come out, strapped me in, carried me up two flights of stairs, and driven me to the Doctor’s rooms; whereupon, the diagnosis would have revealed that I was struck by a viral infection, that there is nothing to do except ride it out, and be promptly taken back in the rear of a wailing vehicle. Nothing wrong with the scenario except for the time wastage of vital resources and financial implications.

At this juncture, I must shrug my shoulders in apathy as I know that my Medical Aid will cover all the a foregoing and more. Yet my sense of fairness kicks vigorously against the whole Medical Aid thingy. Surely emergencies are defined as life threatening events and not everyday maladies that strike humans with wild abandon on a regular basis. Is the whole irreverent use of Ambulance resources not an abuse of the fragile health system? Must admit that given all the available data, my viewpoint is faulted.

What my reality check has revealed is that: Doctors do not make house-calls; ambulance services are there to carry out all the menial jobs that Doctors are loathed to do; Medical Aids do not care how or where the money goes to as long as the claims are above-board. Strange how Medical Aids will use that very fact as a ‘whipping boy’ when they need to increase their monthly fees.

My other Doctor experience was observed during a Hospital sojourn. Given all the medical progress made to date, human relations as it pertains to most Doctors is still sadly lacking. The one question that gave me the giggles was “Doctor, when can I go home?” Simple, straightforward and candid. Yet, the body language expressed by most Doctors was one of, ‘what, are you questioning me?’ The retort was usually ‘let’s give it some more time and we’ll see.’ What I can’t understand is Why must Doctors be evasive when asked a question by their patients? In my experience, the remnant doubt that hovers around one’s mind after such ill- attempts at politeness by Doctors is worse that the ailment itself.

After that little digression, the question of why don’t Doctors make house calls returns in all it grandeur. Is it the inconvenience? Is it the discomfort? Is it the money? The usual answer of        ‘I’m better suited to deal with emergencies at my offices’ does not hold much water besides the convenience factor. If I was a Doctor who cared about my bottom line, I would be making a packet from house-calls - presently it is an open market that is not being serviced.

And maybe the malign issue here stems from the Medical Aid syndrome. There is no question that Medical Aids have changed the way health care is administered. Besides the somewhat peace of mind that one is covered in cases of emergency, they also guarantee that all within the health care system profit from our maladies.  It is just too easy to call out ambulances or to be taken up into hospitals, so that expensive investigative medicine processes can be carried out, under the seemingly protection of one’s Medical Aid.

What about going back to basics, back to making house calls, back to one-on-one patient-doctor interactions, back to where the wellbeing of a patient was paramount? In all the health care evolution, humans have remained human. The whole health care evolution has produced nothing except bottom line watchers. Time for change.

Comments (5)Add Comment
written by Jawellnofine, December 09, 2008
I think it is, in part, due to the high crime levels and in part due to the high number of court cases brought against doctors. This is unfortunate, but if you search hard enough, you will find a doctor who will still make house calls - but even then, they prefer doing it for the elderly.
I do know there are nursing sisters who do make house calls - you may want to look at them next time?
written by mysehnsucht, December 09, 2008
(and, again, previous comment by moi, mysehnsucht)
written by Jawellnofine, December 09, 2008
This malady has been coming a long way; way before the high crime rates.

I did look into the whole issue only to find that cases of house calls are far and few inbetween - specially in cities.

Nurses can't diagnose thus the need for doctors to do house calls.
written by bubbles, December 09, 2008
We have a wonderful, wonderful GP. He has made house calls to us for my elderly parents in law (after his normal hours). One night he called at 22h00 after we phoned him. He always returns calls if he can't take your call during the day. I have the utmost respect for his dedication, patience and care. He is one in a million!!
written by Jawellnofine, December 09, 2008
Hi Bubbles. Yes, he is really one in a million - the exception and not the rule.

Treasure him.

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