I made a visit to see my doctor today to get his assessment on the results of the blood tests. It was easy enough to see the doctor, he greeted me warmly and had already reviewed the results of the blood test. So far so good. Then he went on to tell me that there is a problem with ….. and that he will prescribe tablets to deal with the issue. He gave me the prescription note and enthusiastically told me that the good thing is “you no longer need to pay for your medicines as you can get an exemption certificate from the dispensing chemists”.
So I wandered out of the doctor’s office wondering what exactly is the issue? What will this medicine do? How long will I have to take it? What are the side effects? And then I wondered why it was that my doctor, a friendly chap who takes his job seriously, did not anticipate and thus address these questions with me.
When I turned up at the chemists I handed over the prescription note and told the lady “My doctor has told me that you will issue me with an exemption certificate as I no longer need to pay for my medicines”. She looked at me puzzled and told me that on the contrary the doctor has to issue, sign and forward the paperwork to the national health service so that an exemption certificate is issued. Nonetheless, she told me that she would issue the prescriptions without charge and advised me to go and see my doctor to get the paperwork done.
So while I was waiting for my medicines to be prepared I made my way to the doctor’s surgery and relayed my conversation with the chemist. The receptionist then pulled out the relevant form and asked me to fill it in – including the medical condition that made me eligible for the exemption. I told her that whilst I could fill in my personal details the doctor would have to fill in the medical part as he is the expert. She accepted that explanation, I filled in the form, signed it and left on the promise that she would take care of it.
As I headed back to the chemist to pick up my medicine I wondered why are people and institutions so inconsiderate. Why had my doctor, a good doctor in so many ways, not:
- Anticipated and answered the normal questions that a layperson is likely to have when you tell him that an important part of himself is not working properly;
- Anticipated and dealt with the concern, the fear that a normal person has when you tell him that as a result of prescribing him this medicine he will no longer have to pay for any medicines;
- Complete the medical exemption certificate for me so that all I had to do was sign it.
So this evening I did the research via the Internet to answer my questions and concerns. It looks like the medicine is a hormone replacement medicine. And that once you start on this medicine you take it for the rest of your life. Perhaps that is why my doctor acted as if I was being prescribed a treat.
Which leaves me asking the question again: why, oh why, do experts (e.g. the Doctor) behave in such an inconsiderate manner towards the lay person? Whilst the normal person (the lady at Lloyds chemists) who has no medical expertise was so helpful and considerate: she told me what I needed to do and she did the right thing by looking at the medicine and checking with the dispensing chemist (another expert) that I was eligible to get my medicine free of charge.