How best to waste my time

By C. Douglas Phillips, MD, FACR, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York–Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY
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 Dr. Phillips is a Professor of Radiology, Director of Head and Neck Imaging, at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York–Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. He is a member of the Applied Radiology Editorial Advisory Board.

This is going to be the first of a many-part diatribe. I’m tired. (Yeah, yeah, I know. And I’m old.) But, here’s the thing – I have lost efficiency. Time is wasted, and NOT OF MY OWN CHOOSING. There are concerted and dedicated efforts to waste my time. On a daily basis. So, I’m going to go down a few of them, not necessarily in any order, just as they come to me. And, you all know that I operate in a somewhat random fashion, anyway.

Here’s the first. This may be multi-part in and of itself. Outside films. AAAAAGGHHHH!

If you want to shorten my life, show up at my door with a handful of CDs from (hopefully) different institutions. All with different reading programs, because you know I just can’t stand having any consistency in my life. Sometimes, I almost find myself wishing for the days of film, because all I had to have was a viewbox and some reasonable quiet. Now, I need 6 PCs, and infinite patience (LOADING, LOADING, LOADING). It’s not that I don’t want to help you out, Mr. Clinician Friend. I just want to be modestly productive, in order to justify my salary. I’d like to generate a few RVUs of my own. Because I know I damn sure won’t see any from this interaction. So, you put in the disk, you pray you’ve seen the viewer before (so you don’t have to read the instructions, and look stupid as you try to figure out which side is right on the sagittals), and you hope it opens.

How many times has this happened to you? You put in the disk, it won’t start, you work through the directory, and can’t find the viewer program, or you try it several times, and it says “Error — incomplete something or other,” and you look at the person who handed you the disk in humble exasperation after killing 20 minutes, and they say, “You know, that is the same thing it did for me. We thought you might have some way of getting around that.” AAAGGHHH! In that setting, what I think should be allowed is a radiology version of a dope slap.I will keep a baseball bat close by the workstation for just such an occasion.

I also like the little disclaimer that “the patient brought in their old study,” or even worse, “old studies.” I’ve been handed disks that looked like someone took them to the beach and played with them in the sand. Or encrusted with bubble gum. Or, they have a stack of CDs the thickness of the Gutenberg bible.

“Please compare to all prior exams.” Right. Because, you know, I just didn’t have another thing to do for the next week and a half.

I’m not done with this one. I feel a powerful rant boiling. We shall continue. Mahalo.

Read the second part of this Wet Read series, Part Deux: How best to waste my time, in the October 2012 issue of Applied Radiology. 

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How best to waste my time.  Appl Radiol. 

August 30, 2012

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