Olongapo City – Personal experience has taught me that giving out your personal numbers to patients is really a bit of a nuisance. Patients will try to seek consult for free by texting/emailing you and refusing to be seen at the clinic for further work-up. Other patients will text/email you symptoms that a companion has so that they too can sort of get a free consult. Most of the time, they get angered when I do not give them that priviledge especially when they text me at 3 in the morning. This is not because I want to charge a Professional Fee. Trust me, I usually give out clinic consults for free. I don’t give out consults online or via mobile because it’s dangerous.
Few months ago, an OB-GYNE was enjoying a meal with friends. She got a text from an unregistered number. The sender identified herself as her patient and that she is experiencing abdominal pain. The doctor is nowhere near her clinic and has (of course) no copy of the patient’s medical records nor any way to access it. She texted back instead, “TAKE BUSCOPAN 10mg/tab 3x a day.” She did as the doctor ordered. After 2 months, the OB-GYNE received a subpoena.
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The sender happens to be pregnant at the time and she was experiencing premature labor. Hyoscine (Buscopan) hastened the process and she delivered a premature baby, who died a few minutes later. She consulted another doctor (not me, promise!) who told a lot of things to incriminate the OB-GYNE. The court case is still ongoing.
Mobile consults are not something you will see in the future. It is happening now. For mobile consults to happen, a system must be set in place to prevent incidences like this. Higher charges should be imposed on mobile consults because the risks for malpractice are greater.
For now, I do give out my personal cellphone number but I do not give out consults via text or online methods. I simply request my patients to see me at the clinic or if the case is urgent, be seen at the emergency room. It is important to me that I see the patient personally before I prescribe a medication. The patient may be an old friend but every new symptom must be treated with a fresh eye. Complacency can kill patients.
If you are a patient (whether mine or somebody else’s), please bear in mind that we have every duty to put you first but you must understand that we need to see you, feel you, and hear you. We do not care about financial compensation. We do care about your safety. Please refrain from asking what is the best medicine for a certain ailment. We can answer you, but the answer may not be the best medication for you.
The art of medicine is the art of when to give and when not to give a certain medication.