* * Anonymous Doc: ...So, you'll give him pain medication?

Friday, May 25, 2012

...So, you'll give him pain medication?

The night shift is lonely and overwhelming.  There's pretty much no one else here, and I don't know the patients.  I get paged about people I've never met, and have to make decisions about treatment based on hastily-written notes, while half-asleep and barely functioning, without anyone to check my decisions against except an intern, who's just as half-asleep as I am, and doesn't know the patients any better.

I get a page from a nurse that wakes me up at 3AM.  I call back--

"Doc, I have a patient here.  I'm not sure who he is, but he's in a lot of pain."

"Um... okay....  What kind of pain?"

"Seems like it's his shoulder.  There's a bandage on his shoulder.  So I'm thinking it's from that."

"Did he have surgery on his shoulder?  Is he even a medical patient, or is he a surgical patient."

"I don't know.  I'm covering for another nurse.  I don't even know who he is."

"Can you check the computer?"

"I'm not near a computer."

"Can you ask the patient his name?"

"He's sort of out of it.  I was just hoping you'd put in an order for some pain medication."

"No... and I can't put in an order without knowing his name anyway.  And I'm not going to put in an order without knowing if he's even on my service, or examining him."

"I just thought you could put the order in under whatever name of another patient and I'd know it was for this guy and just give it to him."


"Come on, he's really screaming in pain, his roommate is complaining, and it's hard for me to even concentrate on doing anything else if I have to listen to him.  Maybe just one pill?"


"I'll find out his name."

"Why don't you find out his name and what his medical problem is, and then we can talk about medication.  But I'm not ordering meds for someone I haven't examined."

"Come on, I just want to get some sleep."


  1. That is a rather terrifying conversation. Thank you for not just giving him meds.

  2. As a nurse I am seriously offended by the 3 am caller. At my hospital we have to have our crap together before we even think about calling a Doc!! Patient name, diagnosis, and problem....otherwise we get our arses chewed! I can never imagine having the time to sleep.

  3. Sounds like a housekeeper called you instead of a nurse. You must be a really nice doctor for not ripping that nurse a new one!

  4. Come on. I'm an RN and I see a lot of goofy shit, but I'm having trouble believing any nurse would be this stupid.

  5. Hoping my resident will never woke up by this kind of nurse...

  6. I love your stories and I won't judge you harshly for taking liberties, but can you reveal just how much, if at all, you change actual conversations/situations to make them funnier?

  7. Or is that like asking a magician to reveal his secrets?

  8. Probably a drug diverting nurse. Very common problem.