Having a friend or relative in the medical field is certainly beneficial. As a nurse for many years, I have received many questions from loved ones, neighbors, or even random strangers at the store looking for guidance with a medication or problem. If the issue at hand isn’t too complex, I can usually help out or at least find the answer for you.
As parents, we worry a lot about the health of our children. We lose sleep, miss days at work, and stress over their little bodies. It’s nice to phone a friend in the medical field, or even put a medical problem out on social media for input. As a nurse, I want to offer you some advice and words of caution.
Your friend in the medical field doesn’t have x-ray eyeballs. By this I mean some things can be easily assessed by someone with experience, but a lot of times, the best bet is to seek out the expert. My background is in oncology nursing, and so I don’t know if a bone is broken. You’re probably going to need to get an actual x-ray. If your friend is a wise practitioner of medicine, they will tell you when a problem is an area they aren’t well versed in and will direct you to call your doctor’s office.
The nice thing about phoning the office is that it’s almost always a free service. Often times, pictures can be taken and sent via email, which can be very useful in guiding you to a solution. I have a friend who is an absolutely brilliant doctor, yet she still needs to bring her child in when he may have an ear infection. It’s best to go to the professionals, especially when it’s something you are relatively worried about. The person who receives the call in the office has experience and resources to find the right answer for you. It will also avoid you receiving bad advice from your Facebook friend, Carol.
I know what you’re thinking, “I call and it takes forever to get a call back”. We live in a day and age in which we like our answers right away. Between WebMD and Google, can’t we just find the answers online? My answer is simply: it’s not always that simple. Let’s do it right from the start.
As someone who had a lot of questions and needed to call the OBGYN office a lot during my pregnancies, I one hundred percent understand your frustration. The system could definitely use some work. However, as someone who receives those messages at the office, I can tell you there is a method to the madness. When someone, often a nurse, looks at or listens to your message, they will find a time to give it their full attention. Isn’t that what you or your loved one deserve? First, they look up your chart for more information. Then they decide if they need to ask you more questions, and how they can best respond to your problem. A delay in response time is likely due to the need to clarify or run it past your doctor/provider. If you don’t like the doctor you or your family receives care from, I highly suggest seeking out a new one. It happens much more than you think, so don’t feel bad about it.
Here are a few tips I think apply to anyone receiving medical care:
• Write down any questions you may have. If you are a mom, you get why I say this (distraction, terrible short-term memory due to sleep deprivation, or juggling the schedule of your whole family).
• Write down the information you receive at the appointment.
• Take a moment to look at your notes to see if you have any questions before you leave the appointment or hang up the phone.
• Bring an up-to-date medication list, if able.
• Ask what symptoms you should be watching for that would warrant another call or visit to the doctor.
I know I’ve now scared you away from calling anyone other than your doctor but honestly, it’s still okay to phone your friend. I often do know the right answer and I bet your medical friend does too. However, if it’s something they can’t answer, I hope they are directing you to the right person. Just remember, there is no such thing as a foolish question when calling the doctor’s office and never underestimate the power of having your mind put at ease by someone who might not have x-ray eyeballs, but is certainly a trusted expert in their field.