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So after trying to pick the golf ball off my sweater this morning, I still go to work.

As I am giving pre-operative instructions to my patient who is scheduled next week for cataract surgery, I get to the point in the discussion where I inform them what medications they should or should not take the morning of surgery.

In the good old days, I could just glance down at the list on my paper chart and know exactly what medications a given patient was taking.  (Or at least the ones they remembered or told us, but patient’s memories don’t improve with computerization anyway.)  But good old Uncle Sam has shot to hell the good old days of practicing medicine, and I must now click on a different tab to bring up medications.  The computer does not always respond right away, so sometimes there is a delay before any useful information can be gleaned from among all the “meaningful use” crap clogging up the health record system.

And instead of waiting for the computer to unfreeze, I ask the patient what medications they are on.

Generally speaking, they should only take “essential” medications such as those for heart, breathing and blood pressure the morning of surgery with a little sip of water.  Not every patient knows what their medications are for, so I like to review the list with them.  And some medications should still be taken even if they don’t fall into those categories, such as anti-seizure medications.  Others, like Flomax, should be stopped a week before surgery.

I am still waiting for the list to pop-up and I couldn’t understand what the patient answered as to what medications he was taking.  Three sets of ear tubes as a child and multiple infections have left me with a modicum of hearing loss.

So I ask him again what medication he is taking.

He answers again, but I still can’t quite understand what he is saying, and what I think he said, isn’t a drug I am familiar with.

Still no answer from the Obama-care computer.

And then I make a fatal mistake.  I am embarrassed to have to ask the patient a third time to tell me the name of his medication.  I am also impatient because my computer is useless to me at this moment.  So I think that trying a different tactic might help facilitate me finishing this discussion and moving on to the next embarrassment patient.

If I don’t know what the name is, I can still make a decision based on what he is using it for.

So I calmly ask him what he takes this medication for.

Fortunately, he either didn’t hear me, thought I was a complete idiot, or wisely chose not to answer.  At this moment, the computer manages to find the list of medications and display to me that my patient is taking Viagra.

ViagraFalls

And I, his eye doctor, just asked him why he was taking this.

EPIC FAIL.

So what would you say in this instance?

I stammered, as my tech tried not to laugh out loud, “I guess you can skip taking that the morning of surgery.”

Stamping out blindness is never easy or for the faint of heart.

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