Article Date: 11/1/2007

You Responded: Patients Are Funny
lessons learned

You Responded: Patients Are Funny

Miscommunications frustrate us, but they can also brighten the day.

JACK RUNNINGER, O.D.

The cop got out of his car, and the kid he had stopped for speeding rolled down his window.

"I've been waiting for you all day," said the cop.

"Well I got here as fast as I could," replied the kid.

We optometrists also have miscommunication problems with our patients. They can be aggravating, but often they are right funny, and can brighten your day.

You may recall that I asked readers to send examples of such episodes, to help illustrate that you aren't the only one who receives weird rejoinders from patients.

It oozed out

► "I asked a patient if he had noticed any change in his eyes since his last exam," e-mailed Dr. Diana Carriger of Topeka, Kan. "He replied that his eyes hadn't changed, but for the last three months the prescription had been oozing out of his lenses."

► "A sweet demur octogenarian lady came to my office," e-mailed Dr. Donald Mazzulla, of Las Vegas, Nev. "The schedule indicated the reason for the visit was 'Rx check'. When I asked her what the problem was, she shyly mumbled something inaudible. I asked her to speak up, and she hesitantly said, 'When I put on these glasses, my rectum itches.'

"My diagnosis? Oculo-anal reflex."

"Some confusion there"

► Dr. Cory J. Bosanko of Crossville, Tenn., e-mailed, "When I asked the mother of a strabismus patient if there was any history of eye turns in the family, she answered, 'I don't know for sure. My husband doesn't really know who his dad is … there's some confusion there." In addition, he reported:

► "Talking about the effects of dilation and not being able to see up close to do her cross stitching for a couple of hours, the 68 year-old female patient reported that this would not be a problem, since she only cross-stitched in the morning while she was sitting on the 'pot.'"

ILLUSTRATION BY AMY WUMMER

The disappearing bifocal

► "When I was still wet behind the ears I had the pleasure of working with a wise and experienced optician, named Walter," says Dr. Walton Smith, Sheridan Wy. "I had prescribed a flat top bifocal for a patient. At the dispensing table¸ the patient however decided he didn't want bifocals, and ordered only single vision lenses for distance.

"A few days later he came back and his complaint was 'those cheap #%@/$ bifocals you made were no good! When I set them on top of the heater, the bifocals just slid off!!!' When I asked Walter what he did, he stated calmly, 'I made him a free pair of bifocals. I thought a story that good was worth at least a pair of flat tops.'

"That was many years ago, and Walter is not in the best of health. I think he would enjoy seeing this in print." I am delighted to pay tribute to Walter's impressive wisdom and sense of humor.

A trusting patient

► "I've always strived to gain my patients' trust, but this one went a bit far," writes Dr. Joe DiPasqua, Gaffney, S.C. "When I asked her during the refraction which was better one or two, she replied 'Oh, I don't know … which one would you pick?'

"Unfortunately, I've run out of space before running out of stories. More next time. OM

JACK RUNNINGER, OUR CONSULTING EDITOR, LIVES IN ROME, GA. HE'S ALSO A PAST EDITOR OF OM. CONTACT HIM AT RUNNINGERJ@COMCAST.NET.



Optometric Management, Issue: November 2007