Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Time pressure

My times are in your hands Ps 31:15.

Walter was doing his best to keep up with his patient load. Besides an overbooked schedule, two emergency problems had placed him farther behind. When it was Malcolm’s turn, Walter was wound tightly with the pressure of being over one hour behind in his schedule with ten impatient patients still to see. Malcolm had pancreatic cancer and just needed a pain medicine refill---a quick case to catch up some time. After writing the prescriptions and telling Malcolm goodbye, Walter’s thoughts of the next patient were interrupted by the words, “Oh yes, Doc, I forgot to tell you that my calf is hurting.” After a quick exam with few findings, Walter thought “DVT”, but thought it unlikely. Considering the extra time it would take to work it up, he reassured Malcolm, “Tell me if the pain gets worse or if your leg starts swelling.”

The next Monday Malcolm was admitted to the hospital with a pulmonary embolus.
Three months later, Walter received a notification of inadequate patient management from the hospital’s quality review committee.

What do we do when the pressures of time overwhelm our best judgment? There are days in our lives as doctors when we simply cannot perform all of our tasks with excellence because they pile up too fast for us to complete each of them well. The result is hurt patients, hurt families or inappropriate callousness or anger in our behavior. What steps can we take to minimize the damage and maximize the good that our time pressured existence brings to us?

We can:
1. Prioritize: We should take stock of all that we have crowded into our lives and make certain that the most important things are done well.
2. Simplify: Each of us needs to let go of at least one time consuming activity in our lives in order to accomplish our top priorities well. This may be at home or may be at work. At work this might even mean reducing our patient numbers with an expected loss of income so that we can do an excellent job for those we do see.
3. Surrender: Each morning as we surrender our other blessings to the Lord for his service, we should do the same with our time. We are foolish to think that his purpose depends on our scheduled plans.
4. Discipline: Once we have reordered the schedules of our lives in the best way we can determine, we will still face times when there is too much to accomplish in the time allotted. This is when we take a deep breath, hand the circumstance to God for his glory, and do the right thing with kindness.

Dear Father,
Thank you for the boundaries of time that teach me diligence and trust. Help me reorder my life so that it fits best into your schedule. Then help me to be content within the time frame you have planned for me.

1 comment:

  1. One aspect of the health care reform debate that hasn't been discussed much is how increasing the ranks of the insured will place increased demand on the health care industry, which is already experiencing worker shortages. Julian Alssid with the Workforce Strategy Center has an interesting article in Huffington Post about the issue...