About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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‘Doc, could you look at the rash on my leg?’

Hallway consultations are bad medicine, according to Mary Washington Hospital.

Mary Washington Healthcare reminded its employees this month that it is not appropriate to ask a doctor for medical advice in the hallway.  The company told its workers that if they wanted help with a medical problem, they should establish a “bona-fide practitioner-patient relationship.”

“This means that it would not be appropriate to stop ‘Dr. Jones’ in the hallway, ask that he examine a rash on your leg, and request a topical cream to treat the rash,” according to the memo the company sent to its workers.

The notice reminded me of a doctor I interviewed once who had a plaque on his office wall. The people he worked with had given him the plaque in thanks for the “file room” medicine he practiced. I asked him what that meant, and he said that if someone in the office didn’t feel well, he would take them into the file room and give them a quick look. The employees appreciated it, and the doctor seemed glad to help.

The alternative, according to the hospital, is for an employee who needs medical care to make an appointment so the doctor can take a medical history, perform an exam, prescribe a medicine and document the care in a medical record.