By Henry Ehrlich
Twitter is a “hungry” medium, and in between Tweets of original content, or browsing for articles that seem worthy of 140 characters on our own @aacmaven feed, I find things cascading through my Tweetdeck that I think might be useful to others. Thus, I saw an item from a Mount Sinai blog with the headline: “Prepare for your doctor’s appointment – Bring the following information with you.”
Generally, our website is very supportive of helping people make better use of the time and money they devote to their health care. We have published this by Kaiser physician and author Davis Liu, and this by our friend Anne Russell, BSN and RN. So it seemed natural to click the RT button to this item. I should have read to the bottom, because the tenth item on the list was “Snacks.”
Our friend, Australian allergist John Weiner @AllergyNet replied, “snacks? SNACKS?”
We are often incredulous at the ubiquity of food in the lives of children, especially in classrooms where we hear about the allergic child left out of birthday celebrations, or even what we might call the everyday “blood sugar break” that takes up the time recess used to occupy. If this blogger’s list is any indication, keeping a patient busy for a few extra crucial minutes is now part of the normal strategy for managing the excessive amounts of time people spend waiting for their appointment at an overbooked doctor’s office. Yet, many doctors counsel the opposite. I know that Dr. Ehrlich’s waiting room has a sign that says no food or drink.
After Dr. Weiner raised the point, I went to the website and posted this comment:
“What is the rationale for including snacks in this list? Isn’t obesity a general health concern? Can’t patients forego their grazing in a doctor’s waiting room, particularly if there is an issue of exposing those with food allergies to their allergens?” Since this was a Mount Sinai blog, I was especially annoyed because Sinai houses the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute, where many of our contributors are involved in cutting edge research, although the Sinai network is vast and complex and the pinkie on left hand doesn’t always know what the right big toe is doing.
Lest anyone think that the U.S. is alone in this trend of empty calorie sedation, Dr. Weiner later wrote to me:
“Until about 3 years ago, people and their kids would come into my consulting room eating and drinking. The kids would invariably drop crumbs on the ground. The babies in prams would smear stuff everywhere. Mum would slurp on her skinny latte. I had blokes eating hamburgers. So, I added a clause in bold font to my registration form. I explain that I see many people with severe food allergies, and I cannot risk food in my room, and they were to keep food and drink outside. It stopped immediately, and the occasional person who forgets and is gently reminded of the risks to other patients is profusely apologetic.”
I’ve got noshing issues of my own, and to help hold them in check, I replay this exchange in my head:
Homer: I think I’ll go on a diet.
Marge: Homer, you can’t go on a diet. You eat while you brush your teeth.