Hitting a Nerve

The fax that got under my skin


I got an interesting fax recently.

It started with how tough things have been for small practices during the pandemic (like I need reminding) and suggests it has solutions for my practice to stay afloat.

Dr. Allan M. Block, a neurologist is Scottsdale, Ariz.

Dr. Allan M. Block

I’m used to all kinds of these approaches, and was going to toss the fax, but decided to read on out of curiosity. I assumed it was an advertisement for a loan company, or to sell vitamins out of my office.

This one, surprisingly, suggested I buy gadgets that would allow me to “balance uneven skin tones,” “shrink pores,” “eliminate freckles and stretch marks,” and do “laser vaginal resurfacing”

Are you kidding me?

First of all, I try very hard to stay in my lane. I’m a neurologist, hopefully a competent one, and have no desire to go beyond that. Imagine how bad this would look in a legal case: I’d be pretty hard pressed to convince a malpractice lawyer and jury that “eliminating stretch marks” and “laser vaginal resurfacing” are within the scope and training of your average neurologist.

Second, I don’t see this sort of thing as reflecting well on me. Patients come here to be treated for Parkinson’s disease, strokes, and epilepsy. If I tried to change the appointment’s topic to “those issues are minor, let’s talk about your stretch marks” I’m pretty sure they’d be looking for a new neurologist. And, when it got back to the physician who referred them, so would she.

Third, my patients are tightening their belts like everyone else in this pandemic-associated economic downturn. Suddenly trying to sell them on a pricey cash-pay procedure, let alone one that’s pretty far out of my field, isn’t going to fly. Like my own family they’re watching every penny right now and shrinking pores is at the bottom of their financial priorities. If they really want that done I’d to happy to refer them to a dermatologist.

Not surprisingly, I tossed the fax. Caring for my patients is challenging enough when I stick to what I do best. Trying to push procedures I have no business doing, solely to pry extra money out of them, isn’t just outside my field, It’s flat-out wrong.

Dr. Block has a solo neurology practice in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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