* * Anonymous Doc

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Night float recap: things you would never dream of calling a doctor about if you were at home, in bed, suddenly become things that require a doctor's attention at 4:30 in the morning. I made my rounds at midnight every night, told the nurses to page me if anything important came up but otherwise I was going to try and get some sleep. And, sure, if a patient needs me, great, page me, I'll be there. But over the two weeks, I was called with the following urgent middle-of-the-night issues:

-- "hiccups"

-- "sneezing"

-- "a little bit of heartburn"

-- "thinks he's well enough that he doesn't need to take any more antibiotics"

-- "wants to know if he's allowed to use the toilet"

-- "thirsty"

-- "would like physical therapy in the morning"

-- "needs a sleeping pill, or just more quiet in his room"

-- "doesn't like his roommate"

-- "wants to know what time the doctor will be coming in the morning"

-- "thinks his son took his socks home"

-- "would like ginger ale"

-- "had a dream the nurses were doing something bad to him"

Ah, night float... I will miss you...


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  2. Man. I was just pissy about seeing a doctor all of once in a three day visit (underfunded, overworked hospital)

    Otherwise, tried to just be a well-behaved, polite patient. Dunno how many patients this poor bastard doc had on a given shift, but he was PISSY. So - I am guessing a lot. Me and some dude were joking about how crappy their equipment is.

    Still, working midnights I was up all night and it seemed pretty quiet there. You totally need a new hospital.

  3. My job involves editing, in specific pulling together comments made by early readers of a manuscript in order to research and improve the finished text. Quite often there will be one point in the text that most of these first readers comment about. They might make a snarky comment about the grammar, or the improbable character arc, or some minor technical detail – And just as often they are wrong about the grammar, character or detail.

    I pay a lot of attention when I see that happen.

    See, most people are very good at telling that a problem exists. They might be terrible at figuring out what exactly that problem is. They know /something/ is out of whack, but not what.

    I'm guessing that some of your patients calling at 4:30 AM are like that. They may /say/ they need help with hiccups or sneezing or socks or ginger ale, and they are absolutely wrong in their assertion of what their problem is. But they know /something/ is wrong. That's why they call.

  4. While some of the things you listed are indeed silly, I can see why a hospitalized person with limited medical knowledge may be worried that a few of the listed items may lead to something more serious.