[Tripping On…] Recording Upgrades Quality

When I last met with this spine doctor, I would barely give him a C, but he got close to a B today. Did he suddenly learn all matter of human politeness and patient care over the course of less than one month? No, the only difference, other than one MRI result, was one question from me: “Can I record this conversation?” He agreed – for personal use – and I found a significantly more polite doctor.

I think I’m going to need to do this with every doctor’s appointment going forward.

Regardless of if I need to record the conversation to understand what the hell they’re talking about or not, I’ve had enough run-ins with F doctors that don’t give a shit about patients that this is going to be my new standard. I use otter.ai because as long as there’s an Internet connection it can do live transcription, and I’m comfortable using the app, but there are more medical-focused apps available out there. It was weird. As I remember our conversation, he was much more friendly and personable, like he was trying to act like he wanted to be my spine doctor, and he wanted to do his best to help get me better. That’s a big difference from: “His imaging did not point towards any additional treatments that can be offered.”

The only difference was his actions were being recorded.

I really hate to phrase it this way, because it makes the American Healthcare System seem like something that is completely rotten, however, from my experiences, I’ve either had some extremely bad luck, or, I’ve encountered many doctors that were too power-hungry. The thing with powerful people is that they can choose to be polite and those are the sorts of people we respect. Powerful people that aren’t polite might be feared, but their legacies don’t last, or, they’ll be remembered but not admired. I know that COVID-19 has put a large strain on healthcare systems worldwide, but, I’ve talked with many people both inside America and outside that have had their fair share of bad encounters with doctors.

How much better would doctors perform if they were all recorded?

What if every doctor and patient conversation were recorded and reviewed by a third-party doctor for accuracy? This would, of course, open the sort of off-the-record communication that is frequently shown in television dramas, but I posit that as an option that should be required by any doctor’s office. The patient or doctor can decide if they want the recording added to their report. I know that if I had recorded my conversations with the pain management doctor that referred me to the ER, the spine doctor that didn’t have my charts, or a majority of my other doctors, then my health today would be significantly better. They couldn’t have gotten away with their abusive behaviors that neglected me as a patient.

They wouldn’t continue to be celebrities outside of pop culture.

The doctor I met with today is considered one of the “top doctors” in the area, and now whether that means the organization I went to is considered one of the best, and as a result, all of its doctors, or this specific doctor, I’m not sure. I can tell you that my last appointment with him was about as unimpressive as any appointment could ever be with a doctor, but there were two reasons why I decided to proceed: first, it’s good for the books that I went, and second, I wanted to see if this recording and asking questions thing would work.

I am going to tell everyone I meet, going forward, to record their doctor’s conversations.

Maybe not for my reason – to make sure the doctors are on their best behavior – but to at least have the information for reference. When my doctor, today, told me his interpretation of my health in as jargon-heavy language as humanly possible, as soon as I could interrupt, I told him I didn’t understand anything about what he had just said, and I asked him to translate it into language I could understand. That’s one small way that doctors can fuck with you. You might trust doctors because they can speak the medical jargon. You might not want to embarrass yourself by not knowing all the answers, so you might pleasantly nod and smile.

Uh-huh, uh-huh, of course, ok, that sounds good, doctor.

You go into the doctor’s appointment trusting in the [American] Healthcare System, but as you leave, you realize that you weren’t actually any better off for having gone, and possibly, even worse because you had to go through all that effort only to receive disappointment. Maybe you didn’t experience this specifically, but you can very easily have those experiences if you’re not careful, and if there’s anything that I’ve learned throughout my time with my spine issues and specifically after today’s recording, it’s that doctors tend to do their best to withhold information and control their patients. Maybe it’s because most patients don’t know that they actually have more power than they realize.

Maybe this doctor is ‘top rated’ because he knows when he needs to be polite.

I would say that’s actually abusive behavior, because, ideally, a doctor should act the same whether or not they are being recorded. If you were to listen to the recording, you would hear a consummate professional, minus the one jargon-heavy block of medical terminology told to a patient, and you might be lulled into a false sense of security. His attitude was drastically different than when I first met with him, where he treated me with little respect. I am, overall, glad that I kept the appointment because while I didn’t learn much on the surface, he did refer me over to get some lab work, which could help my appointment next week, or possibly with a Rheumatologist. A physical therapist had recommended it some months ago.

Nothing happened when I asked doctors months ago about that…

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: Today’s doctor’s visit would have been a C- without my ability to have recorded the conversation. With that ability, it turned into a B.
Related: Sober Living essays and Tripping On [The American Healthcare System] chapters.
Picture: Template
Written On: 2021 March 02 [11pm to 11:24pm]
Last Edited: 2021 March 02 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]


My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.