A brief venting of spleen

Attention, random parents of America!

Please understand something — if you have an appointment for one child, that means you’re paying for the services rendered for that one child. If you bring along a sibling without an appointment, and then ask me to examine them for some concern (no matter how brief or minor it may seem to you), you are asking me to defer payment for my professional services simply because you asked for it. It is really no different from strolling through a supermarket and helping yourself to a small item or two without paying for it, and expecting the store to write off the loss because you did pay for some other groceries. It is deeply inconsiderate, and forces me to either give you something for free that you should be paying for, or disrupt an otherwise easy physician-patient relationship by calling you on this behavior and charging for the service.

This is a rare enough phenomenon that I just grin and bear it.  But just like nobody drives two cars to the garage and expects two oil changes for the price of one, or asks a lawyer to draft a will gratis because they’re already getting paid to review a contract, asking me to check a brother’s ears or listen to a cough is requesting something for nothing just because you feel entitled to it.

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. asking me to check a brother’s ears or listen to a cough is requesting something for nothing just because you feel entitled to it.

    Would you say that they’re treating you like a slave?

  2. So, when I’m visiting, and you casually mention that your computer’s acting up, but it’s probably something I’d figure out right away, being a professional and all, etc. etc. and thirty minutes later I’ve managed to fix the problem, you expect to be sent a bill?

    • There is an old joke. A doctor and lawyer are at a party with others. The doctor spends a good half hour talking to a hypochondriac at the party and, after he extracts himself from the conversation, makes a joke to the lawyer and says “do you think I should send her a bill?”

      “Absolutely!”, the lawyer says.

      Two days later, the doctor got a bill for $100 from the lawyer invoiced as “business advice”.

    • Mike, not a word of what I wrote applies to friends or family. For people with whom I share a relationship based on affection, free medical advice from time to time is a gift gladly given. For people who know me solely as a provider of a professional service, asking for additional services at no additional cost is freeloading.

      That said, if you came to my home as a friend and ended up spending half an hour doing something that you’d normally get paid for, I’d probably buy you lunch or acknowledge the in-kind gift you were making in some way.

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