Is There a Doctor in the Home?

by Academy of Clinical Excellence on October 2, 2009

My patient Mr. Zaczek, like most patients, has certain expectations of his doctors, and in my view, those expectations are justified. I think one of these expectations is that the doctor be available. In the article that we co-authored together in the Annals of Internal Medicine is an e-mail that Mr. Zaczek sent to me. His e-mail provides evidence of his expectation that he can communicate easily and comfortably with his doctors, feeling that he and they are in a partnership. I truly believe that whether they e-mail or not, and whether they express themselves in the way Mr. Zaczek did or not, this is truly what our patients expect and desire.

When I received Mr. Zaczek’s e-mail, I was honored that he should feel that we have the type of relationship in which he can freely and comfortably express his thoughts in this way, and I was also honored by the trust in me that his e-mail conveyed. Of course, I was also struck by his intelligence and humor, and I immediately thought the e-mail should be published. In particular, I thought that as doctor and patient co-authors, we could make some very powerful points about the importance of communication between a doctor and a patient. I thought we could comment about the patient-centered medical home model, which to me is a way of highlighting the importance of developing the systems required to facilitate the development and maintenance of relationships like the one I believe I have with Mr. Zaczek, and hopefully have with my other patients as well. And while I recognize that these systems are badly needed, it seems to me that everything starts with the patient and the doctor forming a partnership that I believe results in better patient care and greater satisfaction with that care, ideally both for the patient and the physician.

It is the sense of partnership, implied by Mr. Zaczek’s e-mail that is, to me, a key part of “clinical excellence” that will be discussed and highlighted on this blog.

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Anonymous December 19, 2010 at 6:41 am

I was one such person; texting, is there a doctor in the house!! Or, so to speak. This is my experience. And, Dr. Roy C. Ziegelstein did not disappoint. Not having met my husband's new Cardiologist, Dr. Roy C. Ziegelstein, here I am in the emergency room at 4AM with an emergency doctor telling me my husband is having heart trama and must get to a hospital that can treat him. After a very brief discussion with the doctor and because my husband also suffers from Amyloidosis, a rare disease, we agreed he should be medivaced to Johns Hopkins. There I am at 4:30ish AM and to my surprise I find a personal cell number for Dr. Roy C. Ziegelstein in my husband's cell phone. When, especially in this day and age, does a Cardiologist from Johns Hopkins, who is also the Vice-Chair of the Dept. as I later find out, give a patient his personal cell number?! Like it or not I was faced with a decision. I texted him in the wee hours to let him know my husband was being medivaced to the main campus at Johns Hopkins and sent him his test results. I thought to myself, "it couldn't hurt"!I was shocked to receive a phone call from Dr. Roy C. Ziegelstein apologzing for not getting back to me sooner, as his phone was charging. Now imagine, this was still extremely early in the morning on Black Friday. Not only did this exceptional doctor and wonderful man call me to let me know he got my text, was alerting the team at the main campus, as I was left 60 miles away on the ground as my husband was being airlifted, Dr. Ziegelstein called me several times while I was on my way to Baltimore to let me know what was going on in the Cathe lab, no less. They certainly don't make men or doctors like this anymore. The time when doctor's made house calls, I thought was over; however, thanks to a brilliant, dedicated and wonderful man, such as Dr. Roy C. Ziegelstein, who is teaching residents to not only get to know their patients but to have a heart, no pun intended, is teaching residents to do the same. How refreshing to know a man who also practices what he teaches. MY HATS OFF TO YOU DR. ROY C. ZIEGLESTEIN, YOU ARE THE BEST AT WHAT YOU DO, AND WE ARE SO LUCKY AND BLESSED TO HAVE YOU IN OUR LIVES. Mrs. Richard L. (Gail) Harris

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