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« Dr. Alexander E. Handschin, Plastic Surgeon In Germany | Main | Patients with High Expectations (Dreams versus Reality) »
Tuesday
Sep042012

SIMON Says: “Run Forrest Run!”

Saying ‘No’ to Prospective Cosmetic Medical Patients

Certainly, everyone is entitled and should have access to cosmetic medical and surgical services. However, depending on your particular risk tolerance, there are certain times when you might want to just 'pass' on treating a patient.  Knowing which patients to sidestep is a gray art and is frequently based on hunches and ‘gut’ feelings.  This subtle impression, as described in Malcolm Gladwell’s book 'Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking', is correct more often than not.  However, there are more objective guidelines available to help decide whether or not to dance with a particular patient. Several of these tips have been developed and expounded upon in numerous papers by Dr. Mark Gorney and in the book 'The Patient and the Plastic Surgeon' by Dr. Robert Goldwyn.  Consider running for the hills if:

  • The patient is a SIMON – single,immature, male, overly expectant, and narcissistic.  Even worse if they answer to SIMON-SLAP (SIMON + still lives at parents). 
  • You don’t click with the patient – or just plain dislike them
  • The patient is critical of previous physicians but thinks you hung the moon.
  • The patient is rude to your staff.
  • The patient demands a guarantee.
  • You are asked to do something you can’t deliver.
  • Anyone in a hurry to have surgery – gotta do it now!
  • The surgiholic patient.
  • Patients wanting procedures because they are prodded by friends or family members.
  • The out-of-town patient who has to bolt before you are comfortable with them leaving.
  • The patient who is vague, indecisive and leaves the driving to you.

Unfortunately, patients don’t walk into your office with a label on their shirt saying ‘I’m going to be a real problem’.  Listen to the voices in your head and apply the above principles.  Cosmetic medicine is supposed to be fun – don’t let a rogue patient slip through the cracks and haunt you.  It just isn’t worth it!

Reader Comments (4)

Thank you for this article, Dr. Light. I've never heard a plastic surgeon regret not operating on a patient. The cautionary tales are always told by someone who did operate on someone they knew they shouldn't have. We've also empowered all of our office staff with "veto power" if they pick up on potential issues during their interactions with a patient. Thankfully, this veto power is not often necessary. Thanks again!

Stephen Weber MD

whatever you do,somewhere down the line despite All the experience and wisdom,you will face such a scenario,in that case it will help you if YOU,
1) dont get angry
2)do not react
3) DEVELOP patience LIKE BUDDHA
4) let time to heal both you and the patient

This is a fantastic article..and yes unfortunately there will be patients that will be a problem...no matter if the great physician {God} himself performed the surgery. It is my job as a medical esthetician to gain and in return give my physician as much information on these particular patients before any procedure is done. It is always a sticky, uncomfortable situation when we know that we have to deny a patient of a procedure/treatment whatever the reason may be...But we feel it is the best decision made.. not just for the physician.. but for our whole practice in the future.

Working in the industry for over a decade, this is the biggest issue physician's offices face. Crazy, unrealistic patients can ruin your business financially and physiologically. Please Please think twice about what you are getting yourself into. Very good advise in this article.

01.12 | Unregistered CommenterR.B.

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