A Special Place in Heaven

February 19, 2016

Celebrating the winners in radiology.

There was a recent bit of political jawboning over usage of the phrase, “A special place in Hell.” This is far from a new trick; humanity has a longstanding fondness not only for declaring who belongs in which type of theoretical afterlife, but subdividing the afterlife into various sectors. Dante made a bit of hay in this regard.

There seems to be a disproportionate interest in declaring folks fit for the Bad Place. Whether this says more about human nature in terms of the condemners or the prospectively-condemned, I’m not sure. In any event, it’s occurred to me that there are more than enough opportunities to focus on the negative in a typical day. When one can, it’s probably a good thing to focus on the positive.

Thus, I recently interrupted my all-too-common internal refrain regarding the bad actors we tend to encounter in the practice of diagnostic radiology, and instead thought about the folks I would choose to allot a “special place in Heaven” for their better-than-most behavior.

The referring clinician who takes a few moments to provide a useful history when ordering imaging studies (as opposed to “pain” or “R/O”). Incidentally because it makes our work easier and more satisfying, but foremost because s/he’s actually engaged in getting real answers for the patients in question.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"46068","attributes":{"alt":"radiology winners","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_3945521833078","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"5320","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 180px; width: 180px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"©Dacian G/Shutterstock.com","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

The technologist who goes that extra mile to acquire good imaging-making sure patients are positioned properly and staying still, and getting additional images if needed. Placing markers to indicate specific areas of symptoms. Noticing that the referring clinician’s history was nonexistent and asking the patient a question or three to gather a clue for us. Getting prior studies for comparison.

The radiological colleague who’s always a team player. Available for consults and gracious about it. Reliably at his post and shouldering his responsibilities rather than constantly needing bailing out…or at least eager and able to return the favor of coverage.

The imaging patient who’s actively engaged in their health care. Makes a point of knowing their own history, why their current study has been ordered, brings copies of prior studies, and/or reports for comparison. Very compliant with instructions (prep for studies, positioning, etc.) to get the best possible outcome.

The section head, chair, administrator, etc. who’s truly available-not only physically, but with a listening ear, an open mind, and follow through on topics of concern.

Insurance company or CMS personnel who facilitate (rather than obstruct) appropriate medical imaging, keeping the focus on physicians and patients who believe their exams are useful, if not downright necessary, for better health care outcomes…rather than deny, deny, deny, using whatever technicalities may be available as an excuse.

Politicians taking on health care with a true effort to understand the issues and work towards genuine, fair solutions. Seeking input from actual physicians in the medical field, not just for an occasional focus group or photo-op but on an ongoing basis. Recognizing and resisting the temptation to enact policies that might poll well now, but will create bigger problems in the future.