Charting on the Doctor


A woman whose son is being treated for schizophrenia is keeping a journal of all her son’s treatment.  She notes the drugs, the dosages, and when they are changed.  She also records the doctor’s comments.  I hope she’s also recording her son’s reactions to each drug.

Doctors keep charts on patients.  Why shouldn’t the patient do the same?  Most patients trust their doctors—or at least they start out trusting them—and would not be inclined to keep notes, but it doesn’t have to be a matter of distrust.  Does the doctor keep notes because s/he distrusts the patient, or simply because s/he needs to know what’s been done and how the patient responded, and doesn’t trust to memory?

Likewise, the patient should keep a record of the doctor’s actions and the patient’s reactions.  If the patient can’t do it, then it would be an excellent idea for a friend or relative to do it.

The practice of psychiatry is an imprecise and messy business and it helps if you have a record of what’s been done and said.  For example, the woman who is journaling, i.e., keeping a chart on the doctor, reports that the doctor has said that Ativan is not addictive.  That’s grounds for filing a complaint against the doctor’s license.  If the doctor doesn’t know that the drug is addictive, then the doctor needs supervision, or to be sent back to school for re-education. 

My psychiatrist did not know the signs and symptoms of lithium toxicity even though she was prescribing the drug.  I now live with an indwelling catheter because she was an incompetent physician.  I should have kept notes and filed a complaint against her license so that other patients would be protected.

Chart on your doctor—what’s good for the goose is good for the gander—and it will help your self-esteem.  And if you ever need to sue the doctor, he will have medical records to defend himself.  What will you have?

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About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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One Response to Charting on the Doctor

  1. Lose Weight says:

    I found Charting on the Doctor | Behind the Locked Doors of Inpatient Psychiatry via another blog while searching for a similar topic. Thanks for your input on the subject. I will hyperlink to https://behindthelockeddoors.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/charting-on-the-doctor/ in my next article as some of these factors you discuss right here are on a similiar topic. Thank You. Lose Weight

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