A brief open letter to the parents of my patients


I’m really, really busy these days.  Cold and flu season, you know?  Not a lot of time to dilly-dally.

Please put away your goddamn cell phone while I am speaking to you about your child’s illness!  Whoever it is you are texting can wait!  Beyond being impossibly rude, it also adds to the length of time I spend with you, which is time I could be spending with the umpteen other people waiting to be seen today!

Thank you.

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. Seems that every hospital I go bans the use of cell phones. Usually with a sign about how it might interfere with medical equipment, though I’ve heard here and there (not from my wife’s employer) that it’s actually because of what you’re talking about.

  2. > Please put away your goddamn cell phone while
    > I am speaking to you about your child’s illness!

    Have you ever just stopped talking and waited for them to look up?

    I do it with a smile.

  3. This year I had a student come to my office to meet with me about a research project, and while I was talking the student pulled out a phone and started texting. Fortunately I’m in a position where immediately ending the meeting and kicking the rude person out of my office is a response I can get away with.

    • “I think you should table this research project for a few hours and go take care of that.

      Whatever it is.”

  4. Why not just leave the exam room and go see another patient in another one? If every time they break out the phone you leave them for ten or fifteen minutes, they should get the hint soon enough.

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