What happens when you try to talk to your spouse's doctor?
December 23, 2013 11:10 AM Subscribe
My husband gets a clean bill of health from his doctor every time he goes for a checkup, which makes no sense to me if she knew his habits. He seems to like and respect his doctor, and is inclined to listen to her. I've been considering calling her up and informing her of what she's been missing. Have you ever done this? Have you ever been the doctor on the receiving end of this information? I welcome your thoughts and experience.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
So, my husband is diabetic (Type 1) as well as an alcoholic. Doctor is well aware of his diabetes and he is more or less compliant with those medications. However, I find it very hard to believe that she would give him a "keep up the good work" if she knew he was drinking 40+ drinks per week. I have seen the required form for a check-up at the office (I am in the same medical group, though not with his practice), and it specifically asks for how many drinks consumed in a week. It is unlikely that he fills this out truthfully and gets a clean bill of health from his doctor.
I have a lot of conflicting motivations here; many are selfish and I'm not going to lie to myself and say this is all for him. His alcoholism is tough to cope with and I am in Al-Anon. I know I can't control it, I didn't cause it, and I can't cure it. But I also know that he is going to die, and soon, if he does not get some help. Hiding his drinking from his doctor is not only harming his health, but the positive reinforcement he gets from his doctor (as a result of lying about his drinking to her) just keeps him drinking because of the "clean bill of health." I think it is possible that a wake-up call from his doctor might give him the motivation he needs to acknowledge his alcoholism and seek to arrest it.
So I've arrived at the possibility that I could call up his doctor and tell her. Obviously I know she can't actually discuss his health with me; there's patient-doctor confidentiality there for a reason. But I'm wondering if I can get her on the phone, if she might just listen to me when I tell her how much he drinks and how dependent he is on alcohol, because it affects his health care. Would a doctor even take a call from the wife of a patient? Listen to a call like this and acknowledge it but not volunteer any other information about his care? (This is what I'm hoping?) Or would she be obligated to tell him when he came in that his wife called about his drinking?
Also, thanks for your inevitable concern and suggestions that I leave him, those of you who are considering offering that advice. That's not what I'm asking for here. I am seeking specific advice on the above topic.