Another medscape roundtable


Category : Medical Rants

How Do You Treat VIP Patients?

Over the years I have cared for several VIPs (Very Important Persons). Of course, we might have different definitions of who qualifies as a VIP. But I have had patients who I considered to be ‘very important.’

What makes someone a VIP? Do these people define themselves as VIPs? What standards do we use to categorize a patient as a VIP?

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Comments (3)

I watched the VIP treatment of a doctor’s adult child go terribly wrong. Admitted for a serious, but straight forward, treatment regime this young adult was subject to their parents concept of additional care. This meant the parent wanted an early blood draw, with additional test, so they had results before the staff doctors, who of course had ordered their own blood draw.

Food was an issue. There were no food restrictions, but this did not stop the parent from ordering pb&j along with green jell-o over the selection of pasta and steak of the child. The parent insisted these were the young adult’s favorite foods.

It was made clear, I was to mind my own business. When speaking with the young adult I told them to speak with the doctors and look at all the test results, because in 30 or 40 years they may need to revisit this issue. The parents were also not pleased when I told the adult to find staff they enjoyed working with and whom they formed a bond. The parents confronted me over blood draws, IV’s and injections: What was the problem? They did dozens in the office every day.

Sometime after this whole fiasco I ran into a hospital staff member and they related how frustrating the staff had found the parent. The parent had disrupted the normal work flow of the hospital. Generated unnecessary test. Interfered in the doctor patient relationship. Most importantly, they had increased the psychological and physical discomfort of their child.

This young adult did not like the VIP treatment they received. They would have preferred to be treated like everyone else.

Steve Lucas

If you want to read an incredible story of how the medical care of a VIP physician was altered because he was a VIP, go to the NY times writeup on Dr. Debakey’s battle with dissecting aneurysm.

Doctors develop rhythms. The rhythm of the blood work, the reliance on certain nurses and pharmacists. The danger is being a VIP is having this rhythm interrupted. In my opinion, VIPs sometimes get worse care because of this interruption.

The sweet spot is not being a VIP, but having your doctor like you. Only the very wise patients understand this. When your doctor likes you, they will spend more time talking to you and will actually care more about what happens with you. When you are ill, it upsets them. All that you need to do to make your doctor(s) like you is to smile and treat them like a friend. This might sound like hippy rubbish, but I’ve seen it dozens of times. The best treatment goes to the nice patients.

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