Joyce Kilmer once wrote,“I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain; Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.”I love trees. My yard is full of trees of all kinds. My favorites are my pear trees. They’re not faring so well in this heat and drought. It’s a pity to kill trees but we need paper and a large assortment of other tree derived materials.What really irks me is wasting paper and I waste a lot. When my patient leaves the office, I often give him/her written instructions. I should give every patient written instructions at discharge but I really hate wasting paper. Yes, written instructions are a waste the vast majority of the time. So, why would I call such a valuable tool wasteful? The vast majority of the time my patients never read their instructions! How do I know they don’t read their instructions? My staff and I get calls from either the patient or their loved ones asking for information about how to take their medications or when they need to be seen again, both items clearly printed on their instruction sheet.My patients also don’t read their mail. Prior to every scheduled physical, we mail instructions regarding the physical and insurance coverage. No one reads those papers either. Orders for x-rays and lab tests get lost. More paper wasted. Work notes get misplaced. More paper wasted! The list is endless.Not only do we waste paper, we waste ink, my staff’s time, and my patient’s time and resources. Yes, we have tried to save all the waste by making an internet portal available to our patients but few actually use the portal. A paperless society appears to be a pipedream. A treeless society appears to be more realistic. What are we going to do when we no longer have trees? By the way, a 79 year old patient actually read her instructions while she was still in the office today. What a great experience. She had a question about her medication and I was able to answer it before she left. It’s nice when the system actually works!Please, read the paperwork sent to you by my office. Please, read the discharge instructions prior to leaving the office. If I don’t give you written discharge instructions, please ask me for them. If we have to kill trees for paper, make it a worthwhile endeavor.