Family doctors, I don't stop asking 'Tell 33'

'In Rome, ours is an easy, accessible service, it's normal that people look for it,' says Dr. Patucchi. He follows more than 1,500 patients: 'Only if you can build a good relationship, you can manage everything'

  doctors-family-doctor-antonella-patucchi-today-11 Antonella Patucchi, 63 years old, patient's doctor for almost 30

The relationship with the family doctor is a sore point for many people. 'She has never visited me.' 'She says he can't see me because she already has too many people.' «He does not answer the phone even at the scheduled times». «She asked me for 250 euros to come home when I couldn't get out of bed». These are the most frequent protests. But there are also those who don't have a family doctor, those in the area are already full.

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In fact, there are fewer and fewer of them: in Lazio, for example, there should be 4,400 but they don't reach 4,000. According to Snami, the union, they have too many patients and too much paperwork. In this sea of ​​discontent, we landed in Dr. Antonella Patucchi's office in Ottavia, a working-class district of Rome on Via Trionfale. We wanted to understand how a doctor who, so far, we have only heard good things about, manages to stay on course: «Ours is an easy, accessible service, people are looking for it and therefore there is a lot of work. It all depends on how you do it.' Patucchi is 63 years old, has been a family doctor for almost 30 and has many more patients than he should: «You can get to 1,500, but you always end up giving yourself more too. Then there are those on the waiting list, which for now I follow privately. And those who come to you and say: “Can you visit my brother-in-law?”». She is an hour and a half away from the start of the visits, but her cell phone is studded with messages. She takes a look, and meanwhile she tells us affectionately about a patient who suffers a lot «but she reacts with joy, with a spirit that involves you and gives you heart too. Instead then there is a series of people who just need to sneeze three times and say 'oh my God I'm sick', you go to see them at home and they stay in bed all covered up. And I: “What are you doing? Dress rehearsal before the end?”.

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Do you also visit at home? «Yes, but the point is another. Many patients would always like you at home. Only if you can build a good relationship, they also understand how far they can ask. Underlying it all is a sense of conscience. I can't not answer the phone. Even on Saturday or Sunday. If a patient went unnecessarily to the emergency room just because I didn't answer him, it would be a defeat. We are the ones who have to frame the problem, to get to know the person as a whole, to be able to guess what is behind a stomach ache. Sure, there are those patients that you have to 'smooth out' a bit because they are compulsive, they call you back a thousand times. You don't have to be abrupt, say 'don't break my soul', just try to cold them
a bit'. It's fine work. For others, however, feeling that someone is interested in them is already therapeutic. Yes, maybe it's Saturday, but what's the cost of making a phone call? Can help. Or, send a WhatsApp, which I use a lot, or even just an emoticon to the poor person who ended up hospitalized'.

But can you have a personal relationship with more than 1,500 people? «But did you know that I have everyone's name and number?».

She divides herself between two studies. How many hours does he work? 'I'd say about ten a day, excluding replies to messages.'

And then there is the paperwork. Increased? 'Yes, but it's not just that. Take the vaccinations for Covid, another thing I did firsthand without thinking about how much more effort it would have required of me. If each of us could have vaccinated our patients, we would have done everything in an instant. We could also have convinced more people, having a direct relationship, not counting the proximity, the comfort. Instead they favored the hubs by throwing away a lot of money. They gave us a few doses, I had to go and collect them in person with the document, and I also had to go back to return the empty vials. And according to them we couldn't even treat positive patients, or see them. It was necessary to prescribe tachypirine by phone and wait for events. It doesn't exist at all! I treated them, I didn't send anyone to the hospital. And of this I am proud. Because there was the possibility of treating them one by one from home. I heard them two or three times a day, tried to monitor. I don't know, maybe I just got lucky. But what we were told to do was not right. Who was supposed to take care of my patients? I recommended to everyone: 'If you have even just a cough you have to call me'. I got away with it and I'm happy about this, because I felt useful».

A colleague of his, in Bergamo, hung up a sign: 'I'm not the passer-by of specialists'. “This is a disheartening situation. If you are received in hospital, a specialist is required to give you a prescription. But often he considers it wasted time and sends you to the doctor. There is also the issue of insurance. Some pass on everything to their clients, CT scans, colonoscopies... But the family doctor needs to report the diagnosis, date of onset of the disease, complete medical history every time. Is absurd. But we cannot exempt ourselves, what is the patient's fault?».

Your daughter is a doctor, do you want to follow in her footsteps? 'Actually, I advised her against Medicine.'

But how? She is so passionate. “It's a long road. Six years to graduate, five to specialize. You know, Medicine isn't that difficult. If you study there, you will eventually get there. But you have to dedicate yourself to it. It takes organization, great determination. That's always the point. Ours is a demanding life choice».