New patient. I bring her ID number up on the system. Am scrolling through past notes.
October 2002 -- fractured hip, here a week, discharged.
March 2004 -- bronchitis, discharged
December 2004 -- pneumonia, here for nine days, patient expired, sent to morgue.
May 2010 -- admitted with a persistent cough.
Hold on a moment. What??
I call medical records. "The computer says my patient died in 2004." "Oh, we'll check on that." "You'll check on what?" "Whether she expired." "She's here now, alive." "Are you sure?" "Yeah, I'm pretty sure." "Okay, we'll check on it."
A few hours pass, I input my orders, check her record -- still listed as deceased. I call the records department back.
"Still says my patient is deceased." "Yeah, we're still looking into it." "Well, she's definitely not deceased." "Well, what's her condition -- we don't want to go through the trouble of changing everything if three days from now she's deceased again anyway." "Uh, hopefully she'll get better -- but I don't know if leaving her in the computer as deceased just in case is really a solution." "Oh, you don't want to jinx her?" "No. I don't want the records to say I'm administering medication to a body that's been dead for 6 years." "Yeah, we need to check what the insurance status is anyway."
A few more hours pass, I get a call back from medical records. "We had her mixed up with another patient with the same last name." "Yeah, I thought so." "Yeah, I think we fixed it. But if she ends up dying-- you should know we wasted a ton of time on this for nothing."