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  • Torture

    Posted by Jonathan on July 2nd, 2013 (All posts by )

    infernal machine

    Stuck in a doctor’s waiting room where I’ve been sitting for an hour and will be sitting another hour at least.

    A large TV monitor is playing and replaying the same annoying loop of fluffy health programs and ads that I’ve seen many times on successive visits to this office. Sound volume is loud and inescapable. I ask the receptionist if it’s possible to lower the volume. She says she has no control. I ask if it’s possible to turn the thing off, isn’t that an on/off switch? She says: no, believe me, we’d like to, the switch doesn’t work. I try pressing the switch. Nothing happens.

    I assume that CNN (which produced the show) is paying the doctors to keep this damn machine running in their waiting room, and that one of the terms of the deal is that the machine won’t be turned down or off. And the advertisers are paying CNN. Good deal for them, and for the doctors — they aren’t likely to lose patients over such a nuisance. But this is really an abusive business model and I hope that it falls out of favor.

    UPDATE: The LCD’s power cord is routed through conduit and wired into a junction box, so there is no easy way to pull the plug.

     

    30 Responses to “Torture”

    1. Mrs. Davis Says:

      They may not lose a patient, but they should be subject to abuse from patients. Ask them how much they make off of it. Ask them how much they are making off the visit. Ask them how much it raises their patients’ blood pressure. Ask them if they review the program material and if they agree with all its prescriptions. Ask which other doctors haven’t such a nuisance in their waiting room. etc. Enough negative feedback, and it may disappear. But if you say nothing, it will stay.

    2. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Maybe if they DID lose patients, they’d reconsider.

    3. Whitehall Says:

      Same deal at many airports. You can’t find a seat near a gate where you’re not in line-of-sight of a screen and within earshot of the audio.

      CNN does play their news feed, or what I take to be the standard offering. The airports either pay or are paid, and CNN counts the airport traffic as viewers in their ratings to boost ad prices.

      Needless to say, I HATE the practice.

    4. dilys Says:

      Thumbs up to Mrs. Davis’ ideas, above, but it’s important to be clear we understand it isn’t the front desk’s fault or decision; their life is often difficult due to problems with the public, and their professional employers.

      If you follow the principles of mind/body medicine, you may find reasons to suspect that both the stress of the experience, and the relentless battering of concepts (inevitability of physical malfunction and routine need for treatment and pharmaceuticals) are preying on a vulnerable population. The phenomenon neatly dovetails with job security for the medical personnel, even if it’s been sold as patient education…

      In the meantime, I have learned to go prepared, whether it’s my own appointment or waiting for someone else. Giving the receptionist my cell phone number, then sitting in the car, or doing yoga stretches in the hall, or sitting in another, silent lobby. If there’s no retreat, taking a loaded MP3 player with good earphones, and pointedly turning away from the screen, moving a chair if necessary. It’s a scandal to have to wage semiotic warfare and strategize self-protection in such a setting, but that’s what it has come to. Creative courteous strategies may give the other sheeple some courage.

    5. Bill Brandt Says:

      That ranks up there wit this bus ride I took on Crete – a Greek buss with an 8 track tap player playing the same !@#$%^ music over and over – remember the mandolin to this day.

      That, and having torn up my knee skiing, being given repeatedly “11:00 Appointments” – and sitting in the Dr’s waiting room until 2-3 – the 3rd time of this I told him I had better things to do.

    6. Mrs. Davis Says:

      Dilys is right. I was not clear that the questions should be directed to the physician who gets the cash and who wants to spend as little time as necessary with you and see as many patients as possible.

    7. David Foster Says:

      My local Safeway has truly awful music. My musical tastes are fairly broad, but this stuff is of a genre best described as “howling.” It is so bad that I hurry through or take the extra 5 minutes to go to the Giant, where the musical selections are notably more civilized.

    8. William Newman Says:

      Whitehall, yes. I fly out of DFW several times most years. Mercifully they backed off on this, sometime perhaps a year or two ago, and it suddenly became much more practical to find a somewhat suitable place to wait with a book or laptop. I wish I knew the reason they once thought it a good idea to bring that one small touch of 1984 into the new millennium, and I also wish I knew why they seemingly changed their minds. But even if I don’t understand, I can at least appreciate the improvement.

    9. Robert Schwartz Says:

      A small tube of superglue. Inject it into the speakers.

    10. Jonathan Says:

      I’ll keep ear plugs in my computer bag from now on. They would have been very helpful in this case.

    11. James Bennett Says:

      Only the Inner Party can turn the telescreens off.

    12. Paul Says:

      Many of these devices, as well as annoying TVs in restaurants, have wireless controls. It might be worth investing in a black box that would transmit the power on/off codes for different manufacturers, and surreptitiously just turn the thing off.

      Personally, I hate being forced to listen to advertisements while I am a captive audience. Movie theaters and concert halls are dreadful, all the more because I paid to get in. I would complain to the front office and briefly to the doctor should I find myself in such an office.

    13. snopercod Says:

      I wonder if this TV-B-Gone thingie works.

    14. Michael Kennedy Says:

      “being given repeatedly “11:00 Appointments” – and sitting in the Dr’s waiting room until 2-3 – the 3rd time of this I told him I had better things to do.”

      When I was in practice, and was still running the trauma center, the patients got savvy quickly and would call the office and ask, “Is he there ?” If they came to the office Sandy my receptionist would send them to the mall across the street if I got called away. She would tell them her estimate and suggest they call before they came back.

      One time, I was called away and some patients were starting to grouse. A guy in the waiting room happened to have been operated on a week or two before and he piped up and told the others I had taken his ruptured spleen out and he would rather wait now than when he was bleeding to death.

      I never had a solution that worked. I tried to get my partner to limit our surgery times to two days a week but we would get called all the time for patients already in the hospital. Medicare doesn’t agree to wait a day or two for surgery to be scheduled. We would end up doing elective cases at 3 AM sometimes.

      Internists and other non-surgical specialties have little excuse for delays, The operating room will not wait. An outpatient surgery center at another hospital once delayed a surgery of mine until the end of the day because I was 10 minutes late. I stopped using that surgery center but it was owned by some competing surgeons and they didn’t care about my patient.

    15. Bill Brandt Says:

      Michael – I could get the fact that occasionally the Dr would have to be in surgery – unexpectedly – but this happened 3 times. It seemed as though the receptionist making the appointment didn’t really care about my time.

      As it was he had operated on a ski injury – a torn ligament on the knee – and I was just there for him to see the healing progress.

      The knee was stiff of course, but I knew I had to exercise it to get it better which I did – on my own.

      I suspect it got about as good as it could get – this is all 35 years ago.

      Oh funny thing, he had a colleague – named Dr Slaughter ;-)

    16. Tim Says:

      Wait till Obamacare kicks in. Then you can have some real fun. Nice to know it’s been put back until after the next election.

    17. Anonymous Says:

      After the things you have done in the name of FREEDOM you really don’t get to use “torture” in a banal way.

      Your country conducts actual torture sessions, well used to anyway, and using that word to describe your discomfort is somewhat disgusting.

    18. Jonathan Says:

      Oh mighty pengun, I quake in my flip flops at your righteous judgments. Are you going to criticize me for participating in the critical mass ride too?

    19. PenGun Says:

      Nope the ride was cool. Just reminding you about your recent past.

    20. IGotBupkis, "Faeces Evenio", Mr. Holder? Says:

      }}} Stuck in a doctor’s waiting room where I’ve been sitting for an hour and will be sitting another hour at least.

      Ummmm… why? Don’t you have an appointment? If they are doing that bad with appointments, you can turn around and bill them for YOUR time. I recall there was a court case over this, a movie studio producer was kept waiting at the doctor for an hour, he billed the doctor for an hour of his time. The case went to court, he won.

      Tell the doc you’ll drop the suit if he pulls the plug on the stupid advert crap.

    21. IGotBupkis, "Faeces Evenio", Mr. Holder? Says:

      }}} their life is often difficult due to problems with the public, and their unprofessional employers.

      Ya dropped a prefix, there. Fixed it. Glad to help. :-D

    22. IGotBupkis, "Faeces Evenio", Mr. Holder? Says:

      }}}}}}}} A small tube of superglue. Inject it into the speakers.

      And bring a piece of unclear plastic (make one with sandpaper if needed from stuff at lowes/home-depot/whereever) and superglue that to the screen.

      Avoid fingerprints, of course.

      Urban warfare is called for in cases like these.

    23. IGotBupkis, "Faeces Evenio", Mr. Holder? Says:

      }}} I wonder if this TV-B-Gone thingie works.

      There are, or were, watches that had remotes built into them, too. I never did it (the idea was amusing enough) but go to a sports bar and change the channel just before a key play completes…. LMAO…

      But you merely have to figure out the codes for the TV, if it is one, and change the remote. You can probably do that with a wal-mart brand cheapo universal remote.

      And if nothing else, it gives you something to do while you’re waiting, figuring out/trying different codes. :-D

    24. IGotBupkis, "Faeces Evenio", Mr. Holder? Says:

      }}} After the things you have done in the name of FREEDOM you really don’t get to use “torture” in a banal way. Your country conducts actual torture sessions, well used to anyway, and using that word to describe your discomfort is somewhat disgusting.

      That’s ok, Mr. Troll. We don’t mind offending you. We’re happy to do so, in fact.

      Can I get a resounding “Eph YOU Mr. Troll”?

    25. Jonathan Says:

      Bupkis,

      I’m not the patient. If I were and I visited this doc frequently and had a good relationship with him I might say something. Otherwise, no, and I’m not going to screw around with the TV.

      This is a small waiting area that serves four or five doctors. I’ve noticed that some doctors with large waiting rooms put the telescreen (ha) at one end of the room so that anyone who wants quiet can go to the other end.

    26. PenGun Says:

      “That’s ok, Mr. Troll. We don’t mind offending you. We’re happy to do so, in fact.”

      Now really I don’t matter. It’s what you have done to your country, that used to be a bastion of freedom, that really makes a difference.

      “Land of the brave and home of the free” is now a joke in most of the world.

    27. Mike K Says:

      “Michael – I could get the fact that occasionally the Dr would have to be in surgery – unexpectedly – but this happened 3 times. It seemed as though the receptionist making the appointment didn’t really care about my time. ”

      Some of that may be the office staff’s fault. My office staff were the best paid in the medical community. I was able to do about half the volume of my previous group with two employees, plus a half time employee. They had 14 for five surgeons when we had two.

      A lot of doctors would pay poorly or even fire people when their salaries got too high. Those were mostly pediatricians. When Obamacare comes in, expect that to be the norm. My employees were very important to me because any call could be a high revenue case. I always called my “front line” number to see how they answered the call.

      HMO medicine is very different. The patients is a cost center, not a revenue center.

    28. TM Lutas Says:

      The mystery is revealed. The programming is streaming from a PC in a back room. The volume control is on the PC. Practices neither pay for, nor profit from the system. You get a free TV and programming appropriate to your practice from CNN.

      Sometimes all you need is a little google fu.

    29. Jonathan Says:

      If the doctors are getting the forced TV without being paid and are tolerating a setup that doesn’t allow their staff to control the machine they are foolish.

    30. PenGun Says:

      Let me give you an analogy. I understand the difference between pain and discomfort. I understand it because I spent about 4 months in fairly serious pain. Did not sleep for more than 20 minutes during the entire time. TMJ, as some will understand, is brutal. I figured out why and over time fixed it.

      I don’t take pain killers, a little Ibuprofen for inflamation can be useful, but there are no reasonable pain killers that do anything much for me. When you are screaming and bashing your head on the floor you can be fairly certain you are approaching real pain. If you stay there you will even develop a sense of humor about the whole thing.

      I watch people gobble all kinds of things for discomfort and claim they are suffering great pain. This is very similar to the difference between torture and your mild inconvenience you describe here.