The Joys and Benefits of Advocating For Your Patients

Primary Care Blog

There are times when it is necessary to step up to the plate and go the extra mile on behalf of your patients. There is no job description for doing this and there is no manual that gives you instructions on what action you need to take on behalf of your patients. However, when you have the opportunity to do the right thing, at the right time and for the right reason, you become a better doctor and you have a sense of gratification and satisfaction that makes the practice of medicine so much more enjoyable.  

The Device Is On Back Order
I had a patient who was to have surgery in a few days but the device that was to be implanted was on back order and there were no devices in the hospital’s inventory. My nurse called to tell the patient and suggested cancelling the case until we could get the device. The patient requested that I give him a call as he would like to speak with me. He told me that he was a janitor and that he had requested time off of work and that the employer brought in another janitor to take his place. He said that cancelling the case would be a terrible inconvenience and that he would probably have to defer the surgery for nearly a year. 
I told him I would make every effort to find a device so we could proceed with the surgery. I called the local vendor who was on vacation and explained the patient’s situation. I asked him to call around the country and find a device and have it FedExed to New Orleans so we could proceed with the scheduled surgery. Several hours later he called that another hospital had a single device in their inventory and they would agree to allow us to use it. Our hospital’s OR materials manager called and gave the request and agreed to send a currier to the hospital which was 75 miles away and pick up the device which was in our hospital ready for the surgery. I called to tell the patient and he was just elated that we could proceed as scheduled. He was so complimentary to me for getting involved and to the medical manufacturing company for reaching out to find a device, and to our hospital who made the effort to transfer the device.
Certainly it would be easy to cancel the case but this would have occurred at a great inconvenience to the patient, his family, and his employer. 

Neil Baum, MD

Neil Baum, MD, is Clinical Associate Professor of Urology, Tulane Medical School, New Orleans, LA, and author of Marketing Your Clinical Practice: Ethically, Effectively, and Economically, Jones Bartlett Publishers. He is also author of Social Media For The Healthcare Profession, Greenbranch Publishing, 2011. He blogs at