Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Impatience with Patients

I'm on call tonight. That means I have to keep my pager on until 8:30 tomorrow morning and answer pages from: outpatients from 10 different doctors; nurses at 2 nursing homes; and residents at the hospital who are admitting patients. I only have to do this a couple of times a month, plus about every seventh weekend, but it can be a real pain in the ass. My least favorite calls:
  • Calls from the lab about stat results. Usually the results are just mildly abnormal. The tech always asks if I want the patient's home phone number, and when I say "No" in a really bored voice, they ask how to spell my name.
  • Calls from the nursing home about new admissions. They have to read every order to me over the phone so that I can verbally ok each one. This takes a long time and I don't know the patient from Adam's off ox and have to keep myself from reading a magazine while the nurse blathers on and then I realize that I may have just ok'd a lethal dose of laxative.
  • Calls from patients trying to scam narcotics. Actually I don't mind these so much; it's kind of fun to hear what they have to say when I tell them no. Except when they're really agreeable and mournfully say they'll just call their usual office in the morning. Then I feel like a mean asshole.
  • Calls from patients who have a sore throat and/or cough and their doctor "always gives them antibiotics" and "it takes care of it right away." There's no winning with those folks. I have to either try to explain to them that their illness is viral and isn't helped by antibiotics (which is almost never successful because I'm basically telling them that their usual doctor is wrong, wrong, wrong), which takes forever, or I just take the easy way out and order the antibiotics even though I know it's the wrong thing to do. Then I feel like a wimp.
  • Calls at 4 am.
  • Calls from patients in the emergency room wanting me to speak to the People in Charge so they won't have to wait so long. Because they must have something much more serious than the other fifty people already waiting.
On another front, the tiles are going up in the bathroom today, so we're that much closer to living in the modern world again. You might think with all of this that we're getting a really fancy bathroom, with a heart-shaped Jacuzzi and a Japanese toilet that weighs you and checks your stool for blood, but actually it's as simple as can be. Except that TrophyHusband researched shower fixtures for days and toilets for weeks, and we'll have a shower control that automatically adjusts the hot & cold water for you and a toilet that only requires one flush. This last thing is very important to TH. I had no idea it was such a problem. Everything must go down and stay down with one flush. I don't know what he's putting down there -- all our junk mail? bricks of maryjane? small woodland animals? -- but whatever it is, it apparently puts up quite a struggle.


Anonymous said...

Your comments about the toilet made me giggle. Thanks. (I'm in med school, and we're in exams right now. Any laugh is much appreciated.)

Orange said...

I'd actually like a new toilet, and one that could flush a rabbit would probably come in handy. Would you happen to know the brand/model, offhand?

My father-in-law's an anesthesiologist, and he LOVES taking antibiotics. I really doubt he gets that many bacterial ailments, though. And he should really know better! He's old-school.

DoctorMama said...

I know the toilet is a Toto. I had never heard of that brand before, but then I never really paid much attention. Apparently they flush well without the use of the explosive suction mechanism that makes you think you're on an airplane and scares small children (and David Foster Wallace). I'll have to check the model -- I know it was relatively inexpensive. TH will love to know that his research might possibly benefit others.

Orange said...

I do crave a Toto toilet, actually. I hear wonderful things about them, and to buy a toilet as a status item? So I can look down on those who buy $100 toilets? Worth the $400 or whatever.