A recent thread of posts about the relationship between PCP’s and specialists, spawned by Dr. Rob’s sardonic “open letter” has inspired me to comment on one particular beef I have with consults.
Specifically, in-hospital consults.
I won’t comment on the anger that bubbles inside me when a consult fellow will just outright “refuse” to see someone because they don’t think it’s an “appropriate” consult. That’s a whole different blog entry.
No, I want to comment on the annoying tendency of specialists to say absolutely NOTHING!
Here’s an example. An older patient comes with some bright red blood per rectum. They may have a history in the family of colon cancer, or maybe they were anemic. Whatever. The consult note usually reads thusly. First they mention the chief complaint, then they have a brief history, then there is the ubiquitous rectal exam.
And then at the end it says “Assesment/Plan: Colonscopy Monday.”
Ummmm, excuse me? That’s an assessment?
No, that’s a test.
So rarely is any thought offered in the note. Now, I’m sure the differential diagnosis is well scripted in their minds. But unfortunately, it doesn’t get put to page, and there is no communication until after the test, when you may get a courtesy call from the gastroenterologist who says “Yeah, colon looked clean. A few hemorrhoids.”
Well that’s just super. But of course, you never get an inkling of what they thought was MOST LIKELY! And it’s not just GI consults. Heme consults have irritated me with the annoying “So what do you want me to do? It’s medical management.” In other words, if they can’t do a bone marrow biopsy, and it’s a boring anemia case, then good luck to you.
(Oops, there I go, talking about fellows. Must … re…sist)
But I digress. Whether it’s a fellow or an attending consult, the note should be helpful and the PCP should not be left in the dark. Please just remember we didn’t call you only to do a test. Thought MUST occur!