Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Great Mysteries - Solved!

Today I solved a great mystery. My solution was eloquent, simple and, dare I say, brilliant.

It was also a total waste of time.

As a radiologist in the 21st century, most of what I do is on computers. You would not believe how complex this system is. We have 3 major components that must talk with each other and they aren't even written in the same language. Our major order entry site is DOS-based, for crying out loud.

Most radiologists only want to diagnose diseases. Believe me, that's the best part of my job. I'm a little different in that I spend extra time figuring out how the backbone works. In my opinion, it's the only way to know how to fix a problem if something goes wrong. Most docs are happy to let professionals handle this part. The problem is that when I discover a new and compelling mystery, I attack it with the same vigor as a mass in the abdomen. I must find out where it came from and why.

Without going into too much detail, I'll tell you that several x-rays were being cancelled even though the x-rays were actually shot. This presents a problem because the system thinks it never happened and cancels my interpretation. The finished report never gets to the ordering doctor because it has no where to go. I found out that the orders were being cancelled by the pharmacy. Without going into too much detail, I reasoned that the pharmacist wasn't deliberately cancelling the exam, it was a glitch in the system and it was an easy fix.

The problem is that when I explained this to the folks that can fix it, they got very excited. "We can study this!" they cried. "By checking when the order was cancelled, we can figure out when it's happening and move to correct the source problem."

"No. No. No." I replied. "It's just a glitch. . ." But it was too late. A mission was given and they were on task.

I'm going back to diagnosing people. In the mean time, I'm calling the ordering doctor to apologize that she isn't getting formal results on the computer, but I'll tell her what she needs to know on the phone.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

There is no passion like that of a functionary for his function. - Georges Clemenceau


Shrike said...

This hits close to home. My father, who is a gastroenterologist, is a keen computer buff who inevitably tackles all of the office computer problems instead of leaving it to the support staff. He is unable to delegate! (Yes, this drives people crazy.)


BamBam said...

Amazing quote !

First I'd ever heard of it. Look out google, here I come!

Oh and .......
Fairy !


DrChako said...

I knew when The Wife called me a Fairy on her blog it would come back to haunt me!


My final out said...

I read your blog all the time and when I read today I realized that I would like you expertese on something is you don't mind. My wife just got pregnent with our first child and we have had some problems. I have a question that maybe you could answer. It is a medical question that I can't seem to get a straight answer on. If you want to leave a comment on my almost extinct blog with your email that would be great. If you would rather email me my emial is


I am sure you are busy, so if you get a chance, I would really appreciate it. Thanks.


OhCaptain said...

If I had known before getting to Vegas how close we were professionally, I might have just struck up a conversation about stuff like this.

You see, I do programming and IT for the Radiation Oncology department of a major medical provider located in Rochester, MN. I'll let you do the math.

I'll tell you one thing, usually "glitches" are problems that really should be addressed, but since I know very little about your problem here, I'll let it go :)

My biggest problem in my job is a work with a lot of the PhD physicists in the department. They took Fortan in college. They are experts now. Sigh. Apparently, I only took one class on my way to my degree.