Family doctors overwhelmed by a cyber storm

by Stefano Falcinelli


Dear manager,
I have been a general practitioner in my Ravenna since 1982. The memories of the beginnings of the profession really seem like tales of the past: 9 pieces per recipe, prescription by the NHS of bitters, solutions and citrates! The availability (unavailability) of the general practitioner was from 8 to 10; I have always felt that it was completely insufficient to guarantee the necessary contact with the patient and I answered the phone even after the time indicated by the Convention.

Now on the verge of retirement I live a situation completely upset for two reasons.

First of all, I would say the tumultuous arrival of information technologies also in general medicine; there is a great debate on their use in integrating the direct relationship between doctor and patient (unfortunately with some experiences, which I personally consider completely negative, of replacing this relationship). There are many considerations that the profession is still carrying out from the point of view of assistance, ethics and professional responsibility profiles.

The second reason is having had to go through what I think most of us will remember as the darkest period of our existence: the pandemic. It was necessary to further increase the remote contact with patients to be monitored and assisted with therapeutic indications at home and also, in several cases, to be supported during hospitalization in clinical situations that are often serious if not dramatic. In all these situations, the role of the family doctor, of trust, the professional who is truly the person’s point of reference in many cases from second childhood to old age has really been affirmed; heritage of our community that I hope no one wants to question.

The problem, however, is that now this professional and his relationship of trust are in danger of being overwhelmed by this cyber storm.

Messages for whatsapp, e-mails that arrive (in my case the ASL and the personal one to two e-mail addresses) at any time of day or night, the phone in the office that never ceases to ring risk making the doctor lose lucidity and serenity. stand in an extremely negative way between the professional and the patient; with profiles of responsibility that may prove to be significant.

I understand that it is up to the organization of each professional and the secretarial staff of the associated practice (two conditions now unavoidable in general medicine) to be able to manage this mass of contacts, even if there are those who, by experience or personal ability, are able to do so and those who encounter difficulties.

I therefore believe that the Convention and the local agreements must take into consideration these problems and define the solutions for quantity and quality, obtaining the necessary clarity for the general practitioner in terms of professional responsibility, obviously leaving the autonomous organization of the doctor’s activity to the doctor. also through its collaborators the practical implementation of what has been agreed.

Stefano FalcinelliOMCeO Ravenna President
Director of ENPAM

02 September 2022
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