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Some Additions to the Annual H&P Paperwork


It’s time for another round of history and physical examination forms. Here are some more absurd forms that could be added to the absurdity.

It’s a new year: time for another round of annual attestation and documentation that I’m capable of doing my job without harming myself or anyone else.

These bureaucrat-pleasing sheets of paper attain new heights of absurd irrelevance when one works in teleradiology, and thus is completely removed from human (let alone patient) interaction.

I think my absolute favorite is the PPD form. Each year, I waste two to three hours of my time visiting a CVS MinuteClinic to have a nurse formally ask me about tuberculosis exposure, tell me what I already know about the PPD test, inject me with the stuff - and then document my non-reaction two days later. (I obviously have neither the training nor the public trust to read it myself, being a mere physician.) This ensures that a virulent new strain of TB won’t get transmitted from me via my high-speed internet connection to the various hospitals for which I provide exclusively remote coverage.

The more recently added paper-wastage for influenza is less of a hoot, as it allows one to choose between confirming vaccination versus documenting one’s reasons for declining it. For now. I imagine, in the future, governmental/regulatory types will realize the error of allowing us this degree of self-determination. After all, if we’re guarding against transmitting tuberculosis via modem, should we be any less vigilant against viruses?

The standard listing of credentialing questions is getting longer and longer, too. Forget about whether you’ve been sued or found guilty of a felony since your last round of paperwork, and attesting that you’re free of drug addiction is old hat too (though I’m sure legions of addicts have come to grips with their issues purely as a result of being asked about it on employment paperwork).

Within the last couple of years, I’ve started getting H&P forms to be filled out for my file. I cannot tell you how reassured I am that a hospital on the other side of the country has an annually updated record that I have no known allergies.

I worry about the lawyers and human resources drones who generate these requirements for us. The increasing absurdity of their demands indicates, to me, that they’re starting to grasp at straws for new ways to lengthen the reams of paperwork they generate. Once they’re out of new ideas on how to do this, they may fear for their continued employment.

Some contributions, then, to their stockpiles:

• Nutritional attestation. Supply your dietary plan for a typical workday. Include approximate times of consumption, portion sizes, and whether or not indigestion followed. Remember to complete your separate Hydration Worksheet as well.

• Proper usage of breaks. Provide a schedule of workplace activity for a typical week, in five-minute increments. If at least one 30-minute meal break and two separate 15-minute breaks are not being observed per shift, document why.

• Ergonomic assessment. Form to be filled out by a non-subordinate coworker, assessing employee’s posture and proper usage of office furniture.

• Morale monitoring. A series of yes/no questions indicating satisfaction with multiple aspects of one’s working environment. Employees expressing dissatisfaction will be flagged for further investigation by HR.

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