Monday, October 19, 2009

A regular consultation session with my doctor

I have been with this doctor ever since I moved to France. I stay with her because she is willing to listen and try to understand me. Sometimes I couldn't find the words in French, and she patiently listen to my explanations and finally find the words for me. I think I'm her first Asian patient, everytime I call for an appointment, her secretary recognizes me immediately.

However, there is one drawback that I don't like, but this could apply for many doctors: she always makes me wait for 30 to 40 minutes pass the appointment time. I hate to wait when I already made an appointment, so these days I tried to be the first patient, got myself the 9am spot.

I arrived at 8.55am on a Saturday morning. Her secretary doesn't work on weekend.
She was on the phone with a patient. So I waited. At 9.15am she was still on the phone:

Her: Yes Mrs X, I think it is better for you to stay home now, you can come see me next Monday.
Mrs X: blah blah blah
Her: Ok have a nice day. She finally hung up.

So my consultation started, 15 minutes late.
Her: So, I have received your blood test result, let see how it goes. According to this chart...
The phone rang.
Her: Excuse me. (Picking up the phone)
Her: Yes Mrs Y, how can I help you? Oh yes with this syndrome you can use this medicine. For this brand you can just buy over the counter, but for the other one you will need a prescription...ok come see me on Tuesday... ok Thursday then...ok bye.
Hung up the phone.
Her: Sorry for that, I hope the phone won't ring again. So we were talking about your blood test. The glucose level seems fine. Let me check with my book.
While referring to her book, the phone rang.

Her: Dr B here how may I help you? Oh Mrs Z, your son is having a fever? Did he throw out? Since when? Ok bring him in today, I got a spot at 11.30am. Oh don't worry at the mean time just make him drinks plenty of water...
Hung up the phone and back to me.

Her: Ok blood test is good, but your plasma level seems a bit low. Go get another blood test next week to check it out.(Oh my God, another blood test, my arms are still having bruises!). The result also shows that you have not enough iron, so I will prescript you iron for the next 3 months. (Wow, first time she asks me to take supplementary pills, everyone was asking me why I was not taking all those vitamins, folid acid pills, but she thinks that those chemical products are not good for baby). Now let me see how you and your baby doing.

I weighted myself. Gaining normal weight. She then put some gel on my belly to try to listen to the baby heart beat. While she was putting the gel, the phone rang. She quickly washed her hands and rushed to the phone. The usual round of patient asking questions or taking appointments.

After the regular check out, she asked whether I was feeling tired or having contractions. And finally, she wanted me to stop working immediately as she thinks that the 3 hours round trip everyday is not good for the pregnancy. She had wanted me to stop every since I was 3 months pregnant. We negotiated and finally she agreed I will stop 8 weeks before the due date.

And then she went:"that would be 22 euros and I will need your medical card." I quickly wrote her a check while she was running my medical card with her machine. Then I got all the prescriptions needed. We finished at 9.50am.

I was quick short at this phenomena that in France doctors have to do the administrative tasks during their consultation times. My doctor only does that during the weekend, but that's because she is sharing a secretary with another partner. My dentist is practicing alone so he didn't have a secretary. While he was cleaning my teeth he sometimes has to stop to pick up phone calls for appointment. I feel weird each time they ask for the payment. I had been so used to doctors just doing the consultation and everything else handles by their nurses or secretaries.

I wonder, there is 10% of people unemployed. Why can't these doctors hire part timers to help them, so that they can concentrate 100% on their jobs. This could reduce the unemployed rate, best helping these people gaining working experience.


  1. I do not want to comment on your doctor's behavior, Bee Ean, because I do not share the same cultural expectations as she does. However, I do think that it would be wise for you to have a "second opinion" on the question of pre-natal vitamins. A lack of folic acid in utero can result in serious birth defects for newborns. Those are not just "chemicals" they are nutritional supplements that compensate for vitamins and minerals that you might not be getting in your nutrition. I also think that it is more important for you because this is your first pregnancy.

    Don't believe me. Just do your own reading online and then get a second opinion. The first trimester is a critical time in any pregnancy.


  2. Good Morning,
    I am a french and I leave in Canada. I know it is a drag to wait but at least you can go there on a Saturday! Last time I went to see the OB (I am 4 month pregnant), I had to wait almost 3 hours and the visit lasted for less than 15 minutes, ultrasounds included. I had to work longer hours for the remaining days to make up for the time.
    As for the vitamins et mineral: you don't need a prescription to buy them so if you want them, just go to the pharmacy. At the same time, you can also look into what you eat if you don't want to take pills: veggies are readily available everywhere in France.
    Congratulations for the baby to come!

  3. La Framéricaine,
    I see where you are coming from. Most of my friends in Malaysia and USA took these vitamins and minerals during their pregnancy. The problem is, my doctor didn't encourage it so I have no idea what kind of vitamins I should take. I have spoken to the French here, most of them didn't take any vitamins during their pregnancy, it is just not the culture here. As for folic acid, I only knew about it when I was in my second trimester, so too late to take anyway.

    Wow didn't know in Canada you need to wait so long for an appointment. I don't know why they can't have good time management. I didn't know that I don't need prescription for vitamins. One of my friends is a pharmacist, she took some vitamins for herself but she said not anyone needs it, and they will not be reimbursed by the social security coverage.

  4. Bee,
    I concur with LF, you need to look into the supplements needed for your pregnancy. Its very important that both you and your baby are getting the right amount of nutrition. Also, when you are pregnant your body will suffer bone loss if you do not have enough calcium! Are you taking any pre natal milk formula? Its full of nutrition for you both and it will help you lactate later after baby is here!

  5. Dear Bee Ean,

    I gave birth to my girl in the french speaking part Belgium and like in France, folic acid does not need presciption. Just go and and purchase some to last throughout your pregnancy term.

  6. I asked my midwife today and she said no I don't need all these vitamins as long as I eat 3 meals a day and my diet includes fruits and vegetables. Since I eat a lot of fruits and some vegetables so the question now is more whether I need to take these vitamins and minerals?